Press Release

For Immediate Release: November 12, 2012

Minnesota Department of Human Rights Fills Top Communications and Legislative Liaison Positions

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) has announced the hiring of Christine Dufour as Director of Communications and Community Relations, and Mario Santos Vargas as Legislative and Public Affairs Liaison.

Dufour comes to MDHR with more than 15 years of experience in public relations, marketing and journalism. She previously served as Deputy Communications Director for the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), where she managed the department's media relations in coordination with the Communications Director.

"I am excited to work with an amazing team of public affairs and communications professionals to make Minnesota discrimination free, and empower every person to participate fully in our society," Dufour said.

Her role at MDE included developing and managing the agency's social media presence on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, including a nationally recognized social media campaign. Her work was recognized with a Minnesota Association of Government Communicators Use of Social Media Award of Merit in 2009.

Before joining MDE, Dufour developed communications and marketing strategies for the Bloomington Public School District. Her experience also includes four years with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) as public affairs coordinator. Most recently, Dufour served as President of her own St. Paul-based public relations firm, Ivy Public Relations and Associates.

Dufour has also worked as a reporter for the Brainerd Daily Dispatch. She has a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communications from St. Cloud State University.

Legislative and Public Affairs Liaison Mario Santos Vargas comes to MDHR from Socios Consulting Inc. a private consulting firm that provides leadership, public relations and strategic planning consulting services. He brings to MDHR more than 15 years of experience in advocating for traditionally underserved minority and immigrant communities, helping to reduce disparities in the areas of education, economic and community development and public health.

"I am delighted to have the opportunity to join MDHR and look forward to supporting Commissioner Lindsey and Deputy Commissioner Santiago in their efforts to ensure MDHR's legislative priorities," Vargas said.

Vargas has also served in volunteer advisory capacities on Hispanic civic affairs to the offices of current and past Minneapolis Mayors R.T. Rybak and Sharon Sayles Belton. More recently, he completed a four-year gubernatorial volunteer appointment on the Chicano Latino Affairs Council, where he served as Chairperson.

For his public service, Vargas was recently awarded the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Minnesota's "25 on The Rise" Latino Leadership Award.

Vargas was born in Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. He immigrated to the United States in 1980 and moved to Minnesota in 1992. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology from University of Minnesota - Morris.

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For more information please contact: Jeff Holman, Minnesota Department of Human Rights, 651.539.1090, jeff.holman@state.mn.us

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