On Tuesday, December 13, 2022, Councilwoman and GALEO Board Member, Mimi Woodson, ended her 28-year run on the Columbus City Council. After representing District 7 for nearly three decades, she did not run for reelection. Born in Puerto Rico, Woodson was the first Hispanic person to be elected to office in Georgia.
“The ride has not been easy, but it has been a wonderful, amazing ride,” Woodson said. “And when you believe in God and you believe in yourself. Anything’s possible. And I am living testimony of that.”
Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO, said the following at her farewell reception on Thursday:
“My name is Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO & GALEO Impact Fund, promoting civic engagement and leadership development of the Latino community in Georgia. Mimi also has been my boss for many years now as a board member. How do you put into words the meaning and impact someone has had in your life and the life of others. Mimi’s work may be done on the City Council, but I know she is not done serving her communities, both here and statewide. But before I do that, I want to reflect on Mimi’s history with GALEO for a little bit. I met Mimi Woodson soon after we started GALEO in 2003. At that time, the acronym stood for the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials. State Senator Sam Zamarripa, State Representative Pedro Marin, and I decided we needed to start something to be a catalyst for engagement of the Latinx community in our state. We had been through a brutal legislative session pushing for expanded access to drivers’ licenses for all regardless of their immigration status. It was through that session that we realized we needed to focus our efforts outside the legislature to build power for the Latino community to ensure we would have a stronger voice under the Gold Dome because we knew our community was only going to grow and be impactful for our state’s future. I drove to Columbus shortly after starting the organization because I had heard there was a Latina city council member here and we wanted her to be involved. It didn’t take long to convince her what we were building was something she wanted to be a part of and she joined our board very soon after that. She has been a vital and important part of our board since then and has been an active member of our board through the finance committee . Since she has joined us, the Latino community in Georgia has grown to over one million strong, about 10% of the state’s population. Latinos accounted for 28% of the state’s growth in the 2020 Census. The Latino electorate has grown from merely being 10,000 in 2003 to well over 395,000 in the most recent 2022 elections. Furthermore, the Georgia Latinx electorate has over performed the voter participation rates as compared to the national latino voter participation rates in several recent election cycles. AND We have graduated over 800 alumni of our GALEO Institute for Leadership. I could go on and on…but I won’t. The important thing to remember is that Mimi has been a steadfast board member, a wise mentor, and more importantly a dear friend to me and for our community. Columbus, you are witnessing history today. 28 years in elected public service is a significant milestone. She is in fact, the longest serving Hispanic elected official in the state of Georgia… AND I would also venture to say in the Southeast! Mimi Woodson is clearly a pillar in your community here. But I would also say that Mimi’s impact and leadership has helped us statewide in building power for the Latino community for almost 20 years now. Given the performance of the Latino electorate in the last several recent statewide elections, the impact has also been felt nationally. Mimi, on behalf of the boards of both GALEO and the GALEO Impact Fund, I wanted to be here to thank you for your many years of service to your City and we look forward to continuing to work with us in building power for our Latino community. Mil gracias Mimi.”
Mimi has served on the GALEO Board since 2004. GALEO is proud to see strong and deep leaders like her do incredible things within our communities.