Joaquin Razo is Blue Zones projects solutions lead, Metro EDGE chair and United Way California Capital Region vice chair. (Photos by Terence Duffy)

Young Professionals: Joaquin Razo

Meet the emerging leaders who envision a bright future for the Capital Region

Back Article Jun 11, 2024 By Jennifer Fergesen

Joaquin Razo

Blue Zones projects solutions lead, Metro EDGE chair,
United Way California Capital Region vice chair

This story is part of our June 2024 issue. To subscribe, click here.

Joaquin Razo, 37, has a plan for Sacramento. He imagines walkable, bikeable neighborhoods — including in the city’s outer fringes — where residents have access to green spaces, healthy food and supportive social networks. These neighborhoods would be safe and engaging for everyone from young children to elderly people with dementia, the latter of whom could even stave off the symptoms of their condition by living there. 

His plan is already being put into action: As project solutions lead at Blue Zones, Razo is working to bring the way of life of the world’s longest-lived communities to his home city. (Blue Zones LLC was founded in 2004 by author and explorer Dan Buettner and acquired in 2020 by Adventist Health. Blue zones are geographic regions throughout the world with lower rates of chronic diseases and longer life expectancy.) 

 “Sacramento does a good job of how we’re going to create the best city and how we’re going to take care of our own, and I think I’ve brought that piece to everything that I’ve done.”

“Through collective impact, we can really push work forward to where communities are reshaped to be healthier, to be stronger,” says Razo, who was promoted earlier this year to Blue Zones’ national team from his previous role as executive director of its Upper Napa Valley branch. The company recently completed an assessment for the region, focusing on lower-income northern and southern neighborhoods, that asks “how can we take those areas of Sacramento and really create an atmosphere of where people’s health and longevity are at the forefront?” he says. Sacramento County received a $1.7 million grant from the state to help implement the plan. 

Razo has always made his hometown a priority. “Sacramento does a good job of how we’re going to create the best city and how we’re going to take care of our own, and I think I’ve brought that piece to everything that I’ve done,” he says. 

Born in San Francisco, Razo moved to the capital with his family as a child and attended St. Peter’s Lutheran School and Jesuit High School. His first jobs were also at local parochial schools — Cristo Rey High School and St. Patrick’s Academy — before he was tapped to lead individual giving and action groups at United Way California Capital Region.

Joaquin Razo stands on the patio of La Cosecha in Cesar Chavez Park.

Even after leaving that job for a position at the St. Helena Chamber of Commerce (which ultimately led him to Blue Zones), he continued to volunteer with the 101-year-old nonprofit on its board of directors. He chairs the annual gala and will soon become vice chair of the board, which will make him “possibly the youngest, and the first Latine” to hold the position, he says. 

Through his work with United Way, Razo got involved in Metro EDGE, the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce’s 40-and-under group, and “instantly connected with people.” Now chair of the leadership council, he has been a constant presence in the program for more than four years. “A lot of my free time revolves around Metro EDGE and United Way these days,” he says. 

But, in keeping with the Blue Zones philosophy, he still makes sure to take time for family and his own health. All four of his grandparents are still living in the Bay Area, and he visits them as often as he can. Back in Sacramento, he’s a devotee of spin class at TEAMride and likes to create new dishes from produce he finds at the Midtown Farmers Market. These simple lifestyle choices helped him lose over 135 pounds, he says. 

“It just takes those little steps along the way to create larger impact, even for yourself or your own health journey,” he says. “I think that’s the biggest thing: just taking that first step.”

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