GALEO Institute for Leadership Graduated 31 New Leaders In the State of Georgia

GALEO Institute for Leadership Graduated 31 New Leaders In the State of Georgia
Graduates join 635 alumni of the GALEO Institute for Leadership

Press Release


For Immediate Release

Media Contact:  Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of GALEO,


(Atlanta, Georgia) – November 13, 2018 – GALEO graduated 31 new leaders from the GALEO Institute for Leadership (GIL), which held a graduation reception on Saturday, November 10, 2018 at the Latin American Association.


This is the 19th group of graduates resulting from GALEO’s leadership development efforts. The total number of GALEO Institute for Leadership alumni now stands at 635 people from across the state.


GALEO Institute for Leadership graduates heard inspiring words from GALEO Executive Director Jerry Gonzalez and Advocacy and Policy Director, Maria Palacios from Georgia Shift.


Jerry Gonzalez spoke on the need for leadership development and rising leaders to continue work in community betterment. He reminded them of the work ahead of them in the coming year and how their leadership development can help with today’s pressing issues. He also touched on the importance of building deep relationships with those we work in collaboration with. “Leadership with passion and heart is what is needed in our world today.  Your love of community needs to continue to show as we make progress towards the changes we need to see in our lifetime,” said Jerry Gonzalez.


Maria Palacios’ graduation speech inspired the guests to appreciate themselves as they undergo challenges in their leadership development and careers. She reminded the 2018-graduating cohort of the inner strength and perseverance that we all have and how necessary it is to carry that with us as we strive for a better Georgia. Maria Palacios was formerly the coordinator for GALEO’s leadership development program and GALEO was honored to invite her back to finish out the year with GIL class of 2018.


In addition, we also heard from 2018 GIL graduates, Ibeth Gutierrez and Erick Castro. Ibeth shared the impact that GIL had on her and the motivation it gave her to speak up and see value in what she has to contribute. Erick Castro reminded us of the importance of supporting each other and our fellow Dreamers through being engaged in decisions that elected officials make for our community.


The graduation ceremony ended with all four speakers urging the graduates to continue their leadership development and to get more involved in their communities through service leadership.


The graduation follows a serious commitment to a year-round program that develops basic leadership skills while also exposing the participants to other community leaders and potential opportunities for continued leadership development.  The participants were exposed to the following community leaders:


·         Alejandra Gacria, GALEO Leadership Council – Advocacy Committee Co-Chair

·         Alfredo Coronado, GALEO Leadership Council – Cesar Chavez Committee Co-Chair

·         Cassandra Johnson, CC ALB

·         Christian Bello Escobar, UNG Director of Migrant Services

·         Donna Arriaga, Associate Director of Programs at Beyond 12

·         Dustin Baxter, Immigration Attorney, Kuck Baxter Immigration

·         Elton Garcia, GALEO Leadership Council

·         Harvey Soto, GALEO Policy Analyst and Civic Engagement Coordinator

·         Jaime Rangel, Government Relations & Public Policy Associate at McDonald firm LLC

·         Jason Esteves, Chair of the Atlanta Public Schools, Board of Education

·         Jennifer Zenteno, GALEO Coordinator for Leadership Development & Citizenship Initiatives

·         Jerry Gonzalez, GALEO Executive Director

·         Juliana Henao, GALEO Leadership Council

·         Johnette Brown, Director, Housing – Wealth Building and Community Development Business Relationship Managed – Urban League of Greater Atlanta

·         Katherine Vega, Project Manager for Global Payments INC.

·         Kelli Persons, formerly with the League of Women Voters of Georgia

·         Leri Argueta, College Coach Beyond 12

·         Maria Palacios, Policy Analyst Director at Georgia Shift

·         Marisol Estrada, Legal Assistant to Charles Kuck, Kuck Baxter Immigration 

·         Mark Guevara, GIL Alumni

·         Pedro Viloria, GALEO Program Coordinator

·         Pegui Mariduena, President, StarMar Consulting

·         Representative Bee Nguyen, Georgia House of Representatives

·         Stephe Koontz, Doraville City Council Member

·         Stephanie Cho, Executive Director Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta

·         Wesley Tharpe, Georgia Budget and Policy Institute Analyst


The GALEO Latino Community Development Fund has implemented the GALEO Institute for Leadership to focus upon the leadership development of the Latino community across our state. As part of the GALEO Institute for Leadership, GALEO formed a strategic partnership with the University of Georgia’s Fanning Institute to expand and develop our joint efforts for the Community Leadership Program.


The graduates dedicated more than 89 hours during 2018 to complete eight modules, additional presentations and a community group project. In addition, this GALEO Institute for Leadership Class of 2018 represented a diverse class with participants from various heritage/national countries including the following:





         The Dominican Republic





         Puerto Rico

         United States



The graduates represented fourteen counties of our state:














The graduates were also encouraged to engage with the GALEO Leadership Council (GLC), which is made up of alumni from previous GIL sessions, as well as active GALEO Members.  Several of the graduates are already serving leadership roles within the GLC and plan to contribute to significant plans in place for 2019.


Profiles of the 2018 GALEO Institute for Leadership cohort can be found here.


This leadership program was made possible in part by the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, the Sapelo Foundation, University of Georgia-Fanning Institute, Kilpatrick Townsend, Georgia Power, State Farm Insurance Company, Asians Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, GALEO and individual donors.


Recruiting has already begun for the GALEO Institute for Leadership class of 2019.   For information on the 2019 sessions and the application process, please visit


For other questions regarding the upcoming GALEO Institute for Leadership, contact Jennifer Zenteno Pearce at 678.984.6591 or


Pictures of the graduation are available and are posted on GALEO’s Facebook page.

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