A former Peace Corps volunteer in Afghanistan and Ecuador, he taught English as a Second Language at San Jose City College, De Anza College, Metro Ed, and the Center for Southeast Asian Refugee Resettlement before attending law school at Golden Gate University. He co-authored a White Paper advocating for a more humane Immigration Reform and Control Act (amnesty) in 1986 and taught citizenship classes at the San Jose Mercury News.
From 1990 to 1996 he served as immigration attorney and Director of the Catholic Charities Immigration Program , where he defended immigrants in deportation proceedings and received a grant from the Justice Department to educate employers on how to avoid discrimination in hiring immigrants.
Richard was hired in 1996 to establish the Santa Clara County Citizenship Collaborative when 51,000 legal immigrants were about to lose SSI or food stamps with federal welfare reform. For his efforts the County received its first Challenge Award from the California State Association of Counties (CSAC). The collaborative continues to this day and now has helped over 120,000 immigrants with their citizenship process.
Richard led Citizenship and Immigrant Programs in Santa Clara County from 1996 to 2005, establishing a model immigrant integration program recognized nationally for its research, cultural competence, programs, and policy development. He co-authored and edited Bridging Borders in Silicon Valley and Knowledge of Immigrant Nationalities (KIN) of Santa Clara County.
From 2005 to 2008 Richard served as Director of the Office of Human Relations of Santa Clara County, bringing key community issues before the Board of Supervisors and creating a model community dialogue program, Building Opportunities for Lasting Dialogue (BOLD Dialogues).
From 1994 to 2010 he served as an elected trustee on the San Jose-Evergreen Community College Board, serving as Board President and promoting educational policies and programs that help the underserved.
Richard served as Associate Director of SIREN, an organization he co-founded in 1998 after serving as the President of SIREN’s predecessor, the Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and Services (NIRRS) from 1986 to 1998. As Associate Director he oversaw the legal, policy, and organizing programs of SIREN, the leading immigrant advocacy non-profit agency in Northern California. He authored a 22-page Special Report for SIREN on what Silicon Valley needs to include in comprehensive immigration reform, Uplifting Our Nation’s Values. Parts of the Special Report were incorporated into Congressman Luis Gutierrez’ December 2009 immigration reform proposal.
As Executive Director of Human Agenda in his spare time, Richard is working to refine a human needs-based vision of human needs, identify best practices to meet those needs, and create the policies, programs, and individual actions that could sustain caring, productive, integrated, and happy lives.
A member of the Silicon Valley Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association (AILA), he currently serves as the Advocacy Chair.