Jerry Gonzalez is the founding and current Executive Director of Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) and the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. GALEO was founded in 2003 and is a 501 (c) (6) statewide nonprofit and non-partisan organization; its mission is to increase civic engagement and leadership development of the Latino/Hispanic community across Georgia. The GALEO Latino Community Development Fund is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization affiliated with GALEO.
Gonzalez is a native of Laredo, TX and received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University in 1995. He completed his Master of Public Administration with a Nonprofit Administration emphasis at the Andrew Young School of Public Policy at Georgia State University in 2005. Gonzalez was an active student at Texas A&M with diverse interests including the Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists (MAES), the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band (clarinet), and the Corps of Cadets. After graduation, Gonzalez served on the MAES National Board of Directors as a Regional Vice President.
In 1996, Gonzalez moved to Atlanta for a job as Field Support Engineer for Rockwell Automation, which was based in Milwaukee, WI. After transitioning into the nonprofit arena in 2002, Gonzalez worked with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) as a Legislative Policy Analyst, focusing upon immigrants’ rights issues at the Georgia General Assembly and in several local jurisdictions across the Southeast. Through his efforts, DeKalb County became the largest municipality to accept the Mexican Matricula Consular ID card as a form of identification for Mexican nationals in DeKalb County and he worked towards the passage of a new Georgia flag without the confederate battle emblem.
At GALEO, Gonzalez has utilized not only his extensive political experience but also his deep understanding of the struggles of the Latino community in Georgia. During the 2010 Census, Gonzalez strongly advocated for strong participation of the Latino community, which ended up having a 96% increase, representing 28% of the state’s overall growth. In voter engagement efforts, the Latino electorate has grown to well over 150,000 from a mere 10,000 in 2003. In addition, the Latino voter participation rates in most jurisdictions in Georgia during the 2008 election out-performed the national Latino voter participation rates. Most recently Gonzalez and GALEO have been actively fighting passage of Georgia’s HB 87, an Arizona-style anti-immigration legislation. After the passage of HB 87, Gonzalez worked with community leaders and lawyers on a lawsuit that sought to halt its implementation and filed an Amicus Brief in support of the litigation to stop HB87. Fortunately, a federal judge did halt the major “show meyour papers” provisions of the law.
Due to his efforts at GALEO, Mr. Gonzalez has been recognized by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of Georgia’s 100 Most Influential Georgians for several of years, along with many other honors and awards.
When not traveling throughout Georgia speaking at town hall meetings and advocating for education, civic engagement and fair immigration policies, Gonzalez lives in Atlanta with his life partner and spouse of over 17 years, Ray, an established and practicing pediatrician, and their dog, Jenny.
HONORS AND AWARDS
- January 2014: AT&T’s 2014 MLK Celebration “I Am The Dream: Legends of a New Era”
- January 2014: Georgia Trend Magazine named Jerry Gonzalez on of Georgia’s Notables for 2014, a second time for this honor.
- December 2013: Jerry Gonzalez, GALEO, was appointed as Chairman to the Georgia State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
- November 2013: Jerry Gonzalez was named as a Trustee for the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation.
- June 2012: Jerry Gonzalez, the founding and current executive director of GALEO, was honored by Georgia Equality, the state’s largest LGBT rights advocacy organization, with the 2012 Allen Thornell Political Advancement Award.
- January 2012: Georgia Trend Magazine named Jerry Gonzalez on of Georgia’s 100 Most Influential Georgians for a third time.
- December 2011: Jerry Gonzalez was invited to the White House by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for a Holiday Reception
- October 2011: Jerry Gonzalez was named to the Georgia State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
- National Society of Hispanic MBA’s, Atlanta Chapter, recognized Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of GALEO for the “Hispanic 4 Under 40” inaugural award for outstanding Nonprofit Leadership in March 2011.
- Leadership Georgia, Class of 2010
- May 4, 2009: Jerry Gonzalez was honored as a 2009 Honorary Co-Chair for the 25th Anniversary Sweet Auburn Springfest at the Legends, Heroes & Heroines Awards Luncheon.
- April 16, 2009: At MALDEF’s 8th Annual Atlanta Awards Dinner, Jerry Gonzalez was honored with the MALDEF Community Service Award.
- January 2009: Georgia Trend Magazine named Jerry Gonzalez on of Georgia’s Notables for 2009.
- August 2008: Jerry Gonzalez participated on a Project Interchange trip to Israel with the American Jewish Committee.
- July 2008 to present: Jerry Gonzalez was named as a Community Board Member, or Trustee, to the Sapelo Foundation.
- April 24, 2008: Latin American Association recognized Jerry Gonzalez, GALEO, at the 19th Annual Compañeros Awards Luncheon with the Outstanding Community Leadership, Service and Commitment Award
- January 2008: Georgia Trend Magazine again named Jerry Gonzalez on of Georgia’s 100 Most Influential Georgians.
- Regional Leadership Institute, September 2007
- March 3, 2007: At the Annual Conference of Georgia TESOL, Jerry Gonzalez was honored with the Public Service Award for the service to benefit English language learners and the international community in Georgia.
- January 2007: Georgia Trend Magazine named Jerry Gonzalez on of Georgia’s 100 Most Influential Georgians.
- January 6, 2006: AARP Georgia honors Jerry Gonzalez with the “2005 Power of One State Recognition Award”
- Leadership Atlanta, Class of 2005
- October 8, 2004: Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Up and Comers, Under 40 and Rising, 50 of Atlanta’s Most Promising Young Stars
- Atlanta Latino named Jerry Gonzalez “Person of the Year” for 2004.