PRESS RELEASE: More than 130,000 Newly Naturalized Citizens in Georgia Can Sway the Outcome of 2021 Senate Runoff Election, GALEO, AAAJ-Atlanta and NPNA Report Finds  


Thursday December 17th, 2020

Contact: Cristian Solano Cordova 


Tel: (720) 434-4632

More than 130,000 Newly Naturalized Citizens in Georgia Can Sway the Outcome of 2021 Senate Runoff Election, GALEO, AAAJ-Atlanta and NPNA Report Finds  

A report release today sheds light on the potential impact of newly naturalized citizens on national, state, and local elections

Facebook LIVE Recording Available Here

ATLANTA, GA – More than 130,000 people have naturalized in Georgia since 2014, according to a new report by the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), in collaboration with the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) and The Latino Community Fund of Georgia (LCF). These potential new voters exceed the margin of victory for the 2020 presidential election (11,779 votes).

“I wouldn’t have been able to become a voting naturalized citizen if it weren’t for community organizations like GALEO doing this work long before I was at my organization. My story is just one story out of many, but it’s a journey of recognition that democracy is an active sport that we play every day. It is up to us to create that future for our students, entrepreneurs, workers and communities.” said Gigi Pedraza, executive director of the Latino Community Fund of Georgia.

Pedraza is part of an estimated 5 million individuals across the country that have naturalized since 2014. Of this group, around three million naturalized after Donald Trump’s election, making them one of the most significant electoral groups in recent U.S. history. The national New American Voters report analyzed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data on naturalizations from fiscal years 2014 to 2018, applications approved in fiscal year 2019, and estimates for 2020, based on spikes of naturalization before the 2016 presidential election. Despite the mismanagement of USCIS and its backlog of over 700,000 citizenship applications serving as a voter suppression tool, approximately 5 million newly naturalized citizens can sway the outcome of this years’ presidential, senatorial, and gubernatorial elections.

The Georgia report includes the following top lines on Georgia’s new American population:

  • In Georgia, the largest numbers of naturalized citizens from 2014 to 2018 were originally from Mexico, India, Vietnam, Jamaica and South Korea. 
  • Georgia county breakdown: Gwinnett County is home to more than 100,000 naturalized citizens, while Fulton, Cobb, and DeKalb have approximately 50,000 each. There are also over a dozen counties throughout Georgia that have several thousands of naturalized citizens.
  • Age breakdown: Nearly two-thirds of newly naturalized citizens in Georgia from 2014-2018 were below the age of 45 when they naturalized.

This effort is part of GALEO’S Georgia civic engagement campaign and NPNA’s New American Voters 2020 campaign. The latter is a national campaign which promotes voting among newly naturalized Americans, and includes the participation of NPNA partner organizations such as AAAJ-Atlanta & GALEO to lift  up the importance of voting for naturalized citizens.

“This a multi-racial, multi-generational voting bloc represents a powerful political force that once already made their voice heard in November. At a time when anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies are high in our country, these New Americans Voters have raised their voice and sway the outcome of elections for the White House and the state legislature. The first step to exercising that power in the Senate run-off is to register and vote. NPNA is proud to join with GALEO & AAAJ-Atlanta today as they work across Georgia to encourage New Americans to exercise the most influential democratic action a citizen can take, which is voting,” said Nicole Melaku, NPNA executive director.

New Americans are making a significant difference and have been doing so for quite some time. There’s well over 250K latinos registered to vote in Georgia, many of which are naturalized citizens. Latino voter participation rate in Georgia has surpassed the national average, not just this election cycle, but several election cycles prior. We’re working with partners in the Black, Asian-American, & refugee communities to engage voters and turn out folks to the polls” added Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials. 

Access the full the national New American Voters report from NPNA here.


GALEO’s mission is to increase civic engagement and leadership of the Latino/Hispanic community across Georgia. We strive for a better Georgia where the Latino community is engaged civically and its contributions and concerns are recognized.

Latino Community Fund of Georgia is a 501(c)(3) Latinx membership organization serving as a philanthropic intermediary and providing specific direct services and programs.  We fund power-building strategies, program development, and capacity building in Georgia.

The National Partnership for New Americans is a national multiethnic, multiracial organization that represents 39 of the largest regional immigrant and refugee rights organizations in 35 states. Its members provide large-scale services for the communities, to leverage their collective power and expertise for a national strategy. More information about the New American Voters 2020 campaign is available at

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The Point of View of a Poultry Plant Worker’s Daughter During COVID-19

*This blog is written by an anonymous member of GALEO.

Hall County is known as the poultry capital of the state. Unfortunately, to this day the poultry industry in Hall County cares more about profits than its employees.

During the start of the pandemic, businesses followed CDC regulations during the state lockdown. Poultry plants, on the other hand, took it upon themselves to increase production while putting their employees at a serious risk.

On April 28, 2020, Hall County emerged as north Georgia’s COVID-19 hot spot. During that time, Hall confirmed 1,132 COVID-19 cases. Health officials stated that at least some of those patients came from the area’s chicken processing plants.

11Alive interviewed Vanesa Sarazua with the Gainesville-based Hispanic Alliance of Georgia, representing a community that drives much of the labor in chicken plants. Ms. Sarazua said in her interview “We didn’t have masks. Workers didn’t have masks. We didn’t have the luxury of staying home during this COVID crisis but had to hit the road running to go to work and continue to work throughout the crisis,” she said.

My mother is one of those workers. When the pandemic started, she was scared to go to work but knew she could not take time off because bills needed to get paid. I went and stocked up on cleaning supplies. I made sure she had masks because her job did not provide PPE and still doesn’t. To this day, the plant where she works expects every employee to buy their own PPE as well as to report to work every day.

The disbelief and anger I felt and still do feel seeing my mother risk her health because the company’s owner values profits more than the health of his employees, including that of my mother’s, is astronomical. My mother could realistically end up in the hospital due to the health measures that are not being taken. My family can end up in the hospital if she unknowingly brings back home the virus.

What will it take for these poultry plants to take this pandemic seriously? To take the health of its workers seriously?  They can easily provide masks, hand sanitizers, soaps, etc. but choose every day not too. My local convenience store has FREE masks for customers. I see no argument as to why poultry plant workers must provide their own PPE! It is a shame how these companies handled this. It’s a blessing in disguise because now we see that these companies do not care about their employees one bit.

Works Cited

Author: Doug Richards   Published: 5:58 PM EDT May 15, 2020


Hall County emerges as Georgia’s latest coronavirus hot spot

Barmel Lyons, Rebekka Schramm

Picture details:

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO at  

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BLOG: Georgia Runoff History and How GOTV Efforts Could Change It

Georgia Runoff History and How GOTV Efforts Could Change It

By: Laura Jimenez, Fall 2020 Intern

In the aftermath of a very heated general election cycle full of fraud allegations, recounts, and increased polarization, the United States is left with only the state of Georgia deciding its fate in two nail biting senate races. Incumbent Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are competing against Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock respectively for their seats in the United States Senate. Because the Senate’s current party distribution is 50 republicans and 48 democrats, these two seats are crucial in determining which party controls this legislative body. The outcome of these two elections will also predict how feasible it will be for President-Elect Joseph R. Biden to accomplish significant policy change during his time in office. The future of the nation rests on these two Senate seats, so all eyes are on Georgia until January 5th, the day of the runoff election. Because of the importance of these two races, it is important, as Georgians and people following these elections in other states, to know about Georgia Runoff History and how GOTV efforts may affect it.

In most elections in the United States, plurality voting is implemented, meaning that the candidate with the highest amount of votes, with disregard to whether this candidate has received the majority vote, is the winner of the election. In contrast, Georgia uses runoff voting to ensure that the vote of the majority is the overall winner of the race. In other words, if no candidate wins 50% plus one of the votes in an election, then a runoff is required by Georgia Law. Sure, runoff elections ensure that the majority of the constituents that voted are satisfied with their choice. The issue with this method, however, arises when it comes into practice in order to systematically deprive the minority of their choices. That begs the question, when and why did runoff elections become law in Georgia?

The Emancipation Proclamation and the subsequent movement to enfranchise Black and Brown Americans curtailed the development of a historically strong coalition against this group of people. The result of this was several attempts by many states to systematically dilute the voices of Black and Brown Americans upon being granted the right to vote. In 1917, the adoption of the ‘county unit system” in Georgia functioned much like the Electoral College system in the United States. Since this system benefited small counties disproportionately, and most Black Americans live in urban counties, their voting power was greatly diminished and was less likely to favor their policy interests (Holzer, 2020). This system was struck down by the Supreme Court of the United States because it was considered unconstitutional under the “one person, one vote” standard.

When left without a method to suppress the Black vote, Denmark Groover, a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, championed the motion to adopt runoff voting into Georgia law. In having a runoff election, Groover believed, the white vote would not have to worry about being split among many candidates and being overtaken by Black Georgians rallying around a single Black candidate. In his very own words, without enacting runoff elections into law, “the Negroes and the pressure groups and special interests are going to manipulate this State and take charge.” Runoff elections ensured that, even if the white vote was split among several candidates in the first election round, white people could rally around the same person during the runoffs and win because they are the majority. Runoff elections were made into Georgia law for all elections in 1966, and this system full of racial bias has reigned in the state since then (Holzer, 2020).

Because the Georgia law that requires runoffs has historically benefited the interests of white voters, the initial prediction for this 2021 runoff lands in favor of Senators Purdue and Loeffler, who have the support of approximately 69% of white voters (CNN, 2020). Because this election is so consequential for the future of American politics, past trends may not be indicative of Georgian voter behavior this year. Democrats typically do not turn out for runoff elections because the prospects of winning this election are low (Hulse, 2020). A major challenge for the Democratic Party of Georgia will be to energize their voter base enough to encourage them to vote in substantial numbers. Because Georgia flipped Democratic for the Presidential election this year, there is already a considerable amount of momentum going into this runoff.

In addition to this, there has been a rapid demographic shift that may indicate that this race is much closer than expected. Senatorial exit polls indicate that approximately 78% of people of color voted for Jon Ossoff, and this trend holds true for Reverend Raphael Warnock as well (CNN, 2020). Since voters of color comprise approximately 38% of Georgian constituents, there is a possibility for these senate runoffs to change history by ensuring that this demographic shows up to vote. The odds of the runoff law in Georgia benefiting the majority and silencing the minority still exist, but they are far lower than they were even ten years ago. Because of the efforts of many grassroots and non-profit organizations that are encouraging people to vote during this election, the path toward elections that take every voice into account is in sight.

As we endure this high-stakes runoff season, it is my hope that we all can be advocates for free and fair elections despite this complicated history we do not always want to discuss. Regardless of anyone’s political beliefs, it is always an honor to contribute to amplifying voices and encouraging our communities to show up for what is most important for them. Georgia is currently under the country’s political spotlight, and this is as good an opportunity as any to champion equality and integrity.

Works Cited

“Georgia 2020 U.S. Senate Exit Polls.” CNN, Cable News Network,

Holzer, Joshua. “A Brief History of Georgia’s Runoff Voting – and Its Racist Roots.” The Conversation, 24 Nov. 2020, 6.

Hulse, Carl. Democrats Work to Defy History in Georgia Runoffs That Have Favored G.O.P. 14 Nov.2020,

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO at  

Questions or concerns about voting? Call us at 1-888-54GALEO (1-888-544-2536) or visit

¿Preguntas o inquietudes sobre la votación? Llámenos al 1-888-54GALEO (1-888-544-2536) o visite

To Pledge to Vote for these upcoming elections, please visit

Para comprometerse a votar por estas próximas elecciones, por favor visite

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Election Protection Coalition Says Enough is Enough, We Have Fair Elections and Poll Workers Must be Protected


 CONTACT: Adam Sweat


Election Protection Coalition Says Enough is Enough, We Have Fair Elections and Poll Workers Must be Protected

 December 8, 2020 (ATLANTA, GA) – With 28 days remaining until the U.S. Senate runoffs, the Election Protection Coalition is fighting double duty––working hard to ensure that Georgia voters have all the information they need to fully participate in the January 5, 2021 election, and warding off partisan rhetoric that threatens the lives of poll workers.

“The fact of the matter is that Georgia’s elections process has been fair and safe thus far, and while voter fraud is virtually nonexistent in the state, voter intimidation is alive and well,” said Helen Butler, Chair of the Election Protection Coalition and Executive Director of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda.

 The Election Protection Coalition emphasized that people should have confidence that their ballots count and their voices matter, despite any amount of rhetoric to the contrary. Regardless of recent declarations that the State Senate will seek to change voter laws at the start of the January legislative session, the processes that Georgia already has in place uphold voter integrity work. Georgians can rely on both valid and safe means to cast their ballots in the runoffs just as they did during the primaries and in the general election. To be clear, there is no voter fraud at play.

“Poll workers stand on the front lines of defending our democracy,” said Susannah Scott, President, League of Women Voters Inc., “and our state benefits from the assistance and effort of well-trained, dutiful and diligent poll workers. Their credibility and work ethic––and the validity of the ballots they help tabulate––should not be put in question just to satisfy partisan agendas, and by all means, their safety should never be jeopardized because of their administration of this important work.”

About The Election Protection Coalition

 The Election Protection Coalition is a group of non-profit, non-partisan organizations working to uphold safe and fair elections in Georgia. The Coalition includes Georgia Votes, All Voting is Local-Georgia, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, Coalition for the People’s Agenda, Common Cause and Common Cause Georgia, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, League of Women Voters of Georgia, Georgia NAACP, The New Georgia Project, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.


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Press Release: GALEO Institute for Leadership, Nationally Recognized Latinx Leadership Program, in Partnership with UGA’s J.W. Fanning Institute, Accepting 2021 Applications: Apply Today!


Media:  Jerry Gonzalez, GALEO,, 678.691.1086

Questions about the program:  Jennifer Zenteno, 770.674.0551.

GIL Graduation 2020

Thursday, December 3, 2020 (Norcross, GA) -The GALEO Institute for Leadership has been recognized “as one of the best Latino leadership programs in the nation.” The National Alliance of Latino Leadership Programs has recognized GALEO for helping grow a nation of Latino Leaders in addition to listing the program on their national directory

GALEO & the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund are accepting online applications for the GALEO Institute for Leadership, Class of 2021.

The deadline to apply is on Sunday, January 10, 2021, at midnight. 

As part of the GALEO Institute for Leadership, we have continued our strategic partnership with the University of Georgia’s Fanning Institute to expand and develop our joint efforts for the Community Leadership Program.

University of Georgia Fanning Institute: Founded in 1982, the Fanning Institute is named for Vice President and Professor Emeritus J.W. Fanning, whom many consider to be the father of leadership in Georgia. His leadership and community development legacy is carried on today through the Fanning Institute’s continued vision of building community capacity.

The curriculum being utilized for the GALEO Institute for Leadership will be the University of Georgia’s Fanning Institute 6th Edition CLP (revised 2016). The curriculum provides eight modules designed to assist participants in:

Becoming more knowledgeable about themselves, leadership practices, and their communities;

Developing skills needed to assist them in becoming stronger community leaders;

Coming together to use their newly acquired knowledge and enhanced leadership skills to address community issues, needs, problems, and challenges;

Exercising leadership by engaging themselves in activities and undertaking projects to improve their communities.

In 2021 we will continue with our year-round cycle which will utilize the Fanning Institute’s Community Leadership Program modules and we will be coupling them with additional activities to further promote the leadership development of our community leaders. Latinos continue to be a growing segment of Georgia’s community and we have a responsibility to lead, however, participants from ALL backgrounds are welcome and encouraged to apply.

The seminars are open to all persons, regardless of their racial or ethnic background. Diverse participants are encouraged to apply. The leadership sessions are more beneficial to all when the group represents broad diversity, so EVERYONE is encouraged to apply.

The GALEO Institute for Leadership sessions will be conducted in English. Participants will be selected based on their potential for leadership and their eagerness in implementing community betterment projects and initiatives.

The program will begin on Friday, February 12, 2021, with a reception in the evening, and then continue on Saturday, February 13, 2021, for a day of sessions. Afterward, the schedule is set for monthly sessions to allow for statewide participation. Due to COVID-19, GALEO will continue hosting it’s monthly sessions virtually. We will continue awaiting guidelines from the CDC on when it becomes safe to gather again and at that time we update participants on our plan to safely resume in person sessions.

For more information and for a link to the online application to apply today, please visit this link:

This leadership program was made possible in part by the Sapelo Foundation, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, the University of Georgia-Fanning Institute, State Farm Insurance Company, and GALEO & the GALEO Impact Fund.


GALEO’s mission is to increase civic engagement and leadership development of the Latino/Hispanic community across Georgia.

CORE BELIEFS: Inclusive, Non-Partisan, Diversity, Responsive


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Latino Organizations Announce Historic Georgia Latino Voter Mobilization Campaign

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 17, 2020
Contact: Lillian Rodriguez Lopez | 973-699-8767 |

Latino Organizations Announce Historic Georgia Latino Voter Mobilization Campaign

Engaging and Empowering Latinos in U.S. Senate Runoff Election

The Latino Community Fund of Georgia (LCF Georgia), GALEO, Hispanic Federation and Mi Familia Vota, announced a historic mobilization campaign in Georgia to engage Latino voters in the upcoming Senate run-off races. Through the collaboration, the four partners will leverage their collective expertise, resources, and field operations to maximize Latino voter participation across the state for the run-offs and for future elections including the 2022 Gubernatorial race.

As statewide organizations, LCF Georgia and GALEO have spearheaded initiatives to build Latino civic and voter participation in the state. Their efforts helped fuel an unprecedented Latino voter turnout in Georgia during the November 3rd general elections. For decades, the Hispanic Federation and Mi Familia Vota have coordinated national, nonpartisan Latino voter mobilization campaigns to engage Latino and immigrant communities in local, state, and federal elections.

The four partners will work collaboratively on a comprehensive multi-media, grassroots campaign to bolster Latino voter turnout during the election process. The Senate run-off efforts will reach and engage over 400,000 Latino and multicultural voters through strategies such as phone and text banking, canvassing, mailers, billboards and digital ads, radio spots and election protection measures.

Gigi Pedraza, Executive Director of LCF Georgia stated, “Our team is excited and determined to continue educating, registering, mobilizing, and protecting the civic participation of the Latinx community in Georgia. We welcome the collaboration of the Hispanic Federation and Mi Familia Vota during the run-off efforts. Our community is growing, is increasingly influential and is here to stay. It is time for elected and appointed officials to champion policies that create opportunities for our families, workers, students, and entrepreneurs. This is about our lives.”

Jerry González, CEO of GALEO noted, “Georgia Latinos are ready for this moment in history to have their voices heard and respected in the runoff elections. Our partnerships will ensure we collaborate and strategically work together to ensure the highest Latinx voter participation rate our state has seen. Issues like immigration reform, a permanent fix to DACA, access to affordable healthcare and COVD19 economic relief hang in the balance and Latino voters in Georgia care deeply about these issues and are motivated to vote.”

Frankie Miranda, President of the Hispanic Federation stated, “We are excited about deepening our work and partnership with LCF Georgia, GALEO and Mi Familia Vota to advance the social, economic and political interests of our growing community in Georgia. Latino voters in Georgia continue to have a critical impact on elections, and we want to ensure that the knowledge and tools for engaging in the run-off elections are available to them. The continued growth of the Latino electorate in Georgia will empower Latinos all across the country and advance the values of democracy, transparency and equity for all people residing in the US.”

Hector Sanchez Barba, President of Mi Familia Vota affirmed, “Our policy priorities must be at the center of our national agenda after 4 years of attacks. To achieve these goals, we are excited to announce that we will be partnering with the Latino Community Fund (LCF Georgia), GALEO and the Hispanic Federation to make sure Latino voters voices are heard and to implement a strategic collaboration and coordination in Georgia. We know that when Latinos are engaged, they vote, that is why we will be texting, calling, and on the doors educating our community about what is at stake in this special  election.” The campaign will run from November 17 until January 5, 2021, the date of the Senate run-off elections.


The mission of the Hispanic Federation is to empower and advance the Hispanic community. Hispanic Federation provides grants and services to a broad network of Latino non-profit agencies serving the most vulnerable members of the Hispanic community and advocates nationally on vital issues of education, health, immigration, civil rights, economic empowerment, civic engagement, and the environment.

Mi Familia Vota is a national civic engagement organization that unites Latino, immigrant, and allied communities to promote social and economic justice through citizenship workshops, voter registration, and voter participation. Mi Familia Vota has operations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and Texas.

Latino Community Fund of Georgia supports Latino-serving nonprofit organizations in Georgia with advocacy, program development, technical assistance and grant making. Our mission is to be a catalyst for investment, collaborative work, and positive narrative with and within the Latinx/Hispanic Community in Georgia.

GALEO’s mission is to increase civic engagement and leadership of the Latino/Hispanic community across Georgia. GALEO strives for a better Georgia where the Latino community is engaged civically and its contributions and concerns are recognized.

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GALEO Institute for Leadership Graduated 22 New Leaders in the State of Georgia

GALEO Institute for Leadership Graduated 22 New Leaders in the State of Georgia

Graduates Join 725 Alumni of the GALEO Institute for Leadership

Press Release


Jerry Gonzalez, GALEO, 678.691.1086

Opening Reception- February 14th, 2020

Tuesday, November 17, 2020 (Norcross, GA) – GALEO graduated 22 new leaders from the GALEO Institute for Leadership (GIL), which held a graduation reception on Saturday, November 14, 2020 at The Nett Church in Lilburn, GA.  The graduation was held with strict safety measures in place to protect against COVID19 by keeping graduates in their cars, listening to the graduation program over zoom, wearing masks and social distancing.

This is the 23rd group of graduates resulting from GALEO’s leadership development efforts. The total number of GALEO Institute for Leadership alumni now stands at 725 people from across the state.

This year’s cohort marks a commendable commitment to service in their community by completing the program during a challenging pandemic and a contentious 2020 election. The cohort is made up of a diverse set of professionals who are teachers, organizers, service workers, entrepreneurs, legal professionals, students and much more. GALEO commends the class for their perseverance and their commitment through not only the completion of the program but an additional five service projects all focused on the 2020 Presidential Elections.

GALEO Institute for Leadership graduates heard inspiring words from GALEO Chief Executive Director, Jerry Gonzalez and GALEO Coordinator for Operations & Communications, Polo Vargas. The cohort also heard from two of their own graduating class, Nancy Vicente and Claudia Valencia.

Jerry Gonzalez took a moment to remind the cohort that Georgia would not be where it is today, breaking records in voter turnout, without the efforts of every 2020 GIL participant who took it upon themselves to advocate and get out the vote through their projects.

Nancy Vicente reminds us that through the exposure of new experiences and opportunities we will more often than not see people reflect the same sense of duty we feel to our community. She says, “Through this experience I have learned that leaders aren’t the people giving speeches, winning awards, or getting credit for their work. Leaders are the people willing to do the groundwork, the people willing to organize movements and step back from the spotlight to make sure people are focused on issues, not people.”

This year’s class also challenged GALEO’s program to continue pushing for more in language accessibility. Claudia Valencia, co-creator of Platicando Politix, delivered her speech to the graduating class in Spanish. As part of her group project, her teammates created a bilingual podcast in the middle of a competitive 2020 election, exposing community members to leaders in our backyard through educational charlas. She encouraged the 2020 cohort to continue seeing through our collective commitment to the needs in our community.

Credits to group members: Jasmin Alvarez, Karen Perez, and Orayka Alexander

Polo Vargas, closed out the graduation through only what can be best captured in a quote by saying,” ‘The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He or she is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.’ This was said by President Ronald Reagan. Let your actions inspire others; motivate your community to participate civically. We are all sparks (or “chispitas”) that have the potential to light up this world. Let’s light it up as GIL alumni.”

This year’s graduation would not be possible without a cohort of 22 GALEO Institute for Leadership facilitators trained and certified by UGA’s J.W Fanning Institute for Leadership. GALEO thanks them for their years of commitment to the leadership program.

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 connected with via zoom presentations to the following community leaders:

  • Antonio Molina Esq., Heidari Power Law Group & COO for Consultorio Medico Hispano
  • Brenda Lopez, State House Representative
  • Christian Bello Escobar, UNG Director of Migrant Services
  • Cassandra Johnson, CC ALB
  • Diana Vela, Hispanic Organization Promoting Education – Director of Leadership Chapters
  • Dax Lopez, State Court Judge of Dekalb County
  • Donna Arriaga Edmonds, Associate Director of Programs at Beyond 12
  • Elizabeth Silva, Field Coordinator for GALEO
  • Gabriela Esperanza, Empreza Tax – Middle Georgia Small Business Owner
  • Genny Castillo, Blue Institute
  • Polo Vargas, GALEO Operations and Communication Program Coordinator
  • Hector Gutierrez, Council member for City of Forest Park
  • Jaime Rangel, FWD.US – Georgia Immigration Associate
  • Juliana Henao, GALEO Leadership Council
  • Jeniffer Chow, GALEO Civic Engagement Coordinator
  • Jennifer Zenteno, GALEO Leadership Development & Citizenship Coordinator
  • Jerry Gonzalez, GALEO Executive Director
  • Johnette Brown, Director, Housing – Wealth Building and Community Development, Urban League of Greater Atlanta
  • Katherine Narvaez, Vice President of Los Vecinos de Buford Highway
  • Katherine Vega, Project Manager for Global Payments, Inc.
  • Maria Palacios, Community Advocate & GALEO Leadership Council Chair
  • Marisol Estrada, Kuck Baxter Immigration
  • Rebecca Pool, GALEO Leadership Council
  • Samuel Aguilar, – State Director
  • Zulma Lopez, State House Representative-Elect, Georgia House of Representatives

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 40 hours during 2020 to complete eight modules, additional presentations and a community group project. In addition, this GALEO Institute for Leadership Class of 2020 represented a diverse class with participants from various counties in Georgia:

  • Cherokee
  • Cobb
  • DeKalb
  • Fayetteville
  • Forsyth
  • Fulton
  • Greene
  • Gwinnett
  • Hall

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 2021.

This leadership program was made possible in part by the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, the Sapelo Foundation, Southern Partners Fund, University of Georgia-Fanning Institute, Georgia Power, State Farm Insurance Company, GALEO and individual donors.

Recruiting will begin on Friday November 20th for the GALEO Institute for Leadership class of 2021.  Check back with us this Friday for updates and open enrollment for the 2021 sessions and the application process at

For other questions regarding the upcoming GALEO Institute for Leadership, contact Jennifer Zenteno

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


GALEO’s mission is to increase civic engagement and leadership development of the Latino/Hispanic community across Georgia.

CORE BELIEFS: Inclusive, Non-Partisan, Diversity, Responsive


About Georgia Votes

Georgia Votes is a bold, trusted and diverse collaborative that champions an equitable and inclusive democracy, for and with traditionally underrepresented communities.


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Latinos in Georgia Have Something to Say

Latinos in Georgia Have Something to Say

Friday, November 13th, 2020 (Atlanta, GA)-  It has been a historic election with more than 145 million voters casting their ballots. Among them, millions of Hispanic/Latinos/Latinx(*) voters turned out to say, “Presente, Estamos Aquí.” Latinos, the largest minority group in the United States, have a growing influence on American politics. Approximately every 30 seconds, a Latino in the US turns 18 and becomes eligible to vote.

Georgia’s Latinx civic and political voice is unique, young, powerful, and increasingly influential.

Early voting numbers show that 48% of advance voters, either in person or via absentee ballot, had not participated in the 2016 election, and 50% of those Latino early, in-person voters were under 40 years old as compared to 29.9% of non-Latino voters in the state.

Georgia’s over one million Latinos, many of them immigrants, play a vital role in building and strengthening the state’s social, economic, and political fabric. From 2000 to 2019, the Hispanic population in Georgia grew from 435,000 to over one million-plus residents, a 132% increase in population. Today, we comprise nearly 10% of the total state population. As one of the fastest-growing states, Georgia draws Latinos from all over the US and world, with Mexicans and Puerto Ricans leading as the largest communities. The 2020 Census results will provide us with an updated picture; however, this growth expands eligible Latino voter representation in Georgia, particularly in the counties of Gwinnett, Cobb, Fulton, DeKalb, Clarke, Whitfield, Hall, Rockdale and Newton.

Historically, it has been local Latinx leaders, volunteers, and organizations who have concentrated their efforts to engage, inform, register, translate, advocate for language access, mobilize and ensure our communities do not go another election unnoticed or unheard. Like other communities, we promoted early voting, provided voter assistance, trained volunteers to navigate the electoral process, provided outreach in various languages, and ran voter protection efforts. Our numbers show our strategies and campaigns worked. Even with these Herculean efforts, there is still much work to be done as challenges remain.

Unlike states or cities with dense population areas, Georgia has a dispersed population outside of the Atlanta metro area with critical pockets of Latinos residing in rural areas. A scarcity of resources, conflicting voter information, and voter suppression tactics create real obstacles to participating in elections. Through statewide grassroots engagement and the strengthening of Latino networks, the Latino community is exercising their fundamental right to vote and be heard in this country.

Today, thanks to thousands of community voters and volunteers, and local Latinx leadership, Georgia will play a critical role in elections for years to come. We hope that this time, as we prepare for runoffs and a new cycle of elections and redistricting, input from local Latinx grassroots leaders is sought and integrated into strategies and tactics that reach our unique and diverse community in Georgia.

The South has something to say, and our voice as a diverse Latinx community gets stronger every year. Our vote will impact future federal, state, and local elections, bolstering the power of communities of color and multicultural groups, which without a doubt, will re-shape the political narrative in our country and Georgia.

We are ready to continue to do this work.

Gigi Pedraza, Executive Director, Latino Community Fund (LCF Georgia)

Jerry Gonzalez, Chief Executive Officer, GALEO and the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund

America Gruner, President, Coalition of Latino Leaders (CLILA)

Marco Palma, President, Los Vecinos de Buford Highway

Rebeca Gibbons, Executive Director, Unidos Latino Association, Inc

David Araya, CEO & Co-Founder, HoPe (Hispanic Organization Promoting Education), Inc

(*) Latinx is new gender neutral term often times used to include individuals of Latin American descent and cultural identity without prioritizing a binary narrative.  We use it in this document interchangeably with Latinos and Hispanic.


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GALEO & Voting Rights Organizations Insist “Every Vote Must Be Counted”

Wednesday, November 4, 2020 (Norcross, GA) – As the nation awaits the final results of the presidential election, a coalition of Georgia based civic engagement and voting rights organizations are urging election officials to continue counting ballots until every vote is counted. “In what has been an unprecedented year, from the global outbreak of COVID-19 to a series of natural disasters and economic recession, we must show that our democracy can withstand even the greatest challenges,” said Helen Butler, Executive Director for the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda. “All voices matter and every vote must be counted.”

Counties continue to count absentee ballots and early votes, as well as provisional ballots issued amid technical difficulties at several polling locations on Election Day. “It is not lost on us that this election marked the first time in more than two decades that Georgia is considered an actual battleground state,” said Jerry Gonzales, CEO of GALEO. “In roughly that same period of time, we have increased the population of registered Hispanic voters by 2,560%! Now more than ever, our people need to appreciate just how much their voices and votes do, in fact, matter. That only happens by counting every vote.”

Stephanie Cho, Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, echoed this sentiment. “Issues of diversity, inclusion, and representation were all on the ballot this election, and Georgia voters have the right to make sure that our representatives reflect our values and are committed to improving our communities. The will of the people will only be fully expressed,” she said, “if all votes are counted.

All of the leaders, whose organizations are part of the Georgia Votes collaborative, have a common message: the process is working and we must give election officials the time and space to safely and adequately count and process all votes.



GALEO’s mission is to increase civic engagement and leadership development of the Latino/Hispanic community across Georgia.

CORE BELIEFS: Inclusive, Non-Partisan, Diversity, Responsive


About Georgia Votes

Georgia Votes is a bold, trusted and diverse collaborative that champions an equitable and inclusive democracy, for and with traditionally underrepresented communities.


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We Have the Power: Know Your Rights When Voting (Tu Tienes el Poder: Conoce Sus Derechos Al Votar)– Bilingüe

Jennifer Manzano

30 October 2020 

From the television commercials, political text messages, and canvassers at your door or through your phone, word of the 2020 U.S. presidential election has been prevalent in all aspects of our daily lives. Though profuse, this is a result of individuals exercising their rights and encouraging others to do the same in aspiration to shape a system that will favor their liberty and progression.

This presidential election will mark history for the Latinx community. With a projected 32 million eligible voters, Latinxs are expected to be the nation’s largest racial or ethnic minority in the U.S. presidential election. With 40% of the population vote in New Mexico and 30% in California and Texas, Latinx voices are being represented and amplified.

However, when exercising our rights, we must also be educated and confident in the fundamental laws put in place to protect us. These are cemented not only in our presidential elections, but in effect during elections year round.

These include:

 Basic Rights

  • You have the option to vote early
  • If the polls close while you are in line – stay in line. You still have the right to vote.
  • If you make a mistake on your ballot, you have the right to request another ballot.
  • If the machines are down, you can ask for a paper ballot.

What if I have difficulty understanding English?

Under federal law, voters who have difficulty reading or writing in English may receive

in-person assistance at the voting polls from anyone they would like. This can be a relative, friend, or anyone else. The only people not allowed are employers or agents of the voter’s union, or the candidates themselves.

Jurisdictions covered by Section 203 of the Voters Rights Act are required to have resources for bilingual voters in specific languages; Gwinnett County is an example of this. This includes poll workers proficient in the languages and election materials as well election-related information.

  • To check if your location is protected under this section visit:


What if I go to the poll and am told my name is not registered?

If you are early voting and have time before the end of an election, reevaluate your status and registration (this being your information and voting location). If necessary, you have the right to a provisional ballot. These are ballots that are counted after the eligibility of the voter is confirmed.

 Please note: Your ballot will not be counted if you are at the incorrect voting location.

 Tip: If you cast a provisional ballot, ask for a number to call to ensure your vote was counted.

I have a disability or need accomodations when voting

Under federal law, all polling locations must have accessibility for older voters and people with disabilities. During a federal election, every polling place must have at least one machine that allows people with accommodations to vote privately and independently.

  • You can bring a person of your choosing to assist you with the voting process.
  • Poll workers are required to be readily available if you need assistance

 Tip: In the state of Georgia, on election day, if you are a person who needs accommodations, you are not required to wait in line between the times of 9:30 am – 4:30 pm.

I am a convicted felon. Can I vote?

These circumstances vary by state. Currently in the state of Georgia, if you have completed your sentence and have no active tickets or parole, you are able to vote.


Tu Tienes el Poder: Conoce Sus Derechos Al Votar

Desde los anuncios de televisión, mensajes de texto políticos, y los representantes electorales en su puerta o a través de su teléfono, la palabra de la elección presidencial de EE.UU. 2020 ha sido frecuente en todos los aspectos de nuestra vida. Aunque es profuso, esto es el resultado de que los individuos ejerzan sus derechos y animen a otros a hacer lo mismo con la aspiración de formar un sistema que favorezca su libertad y progresión.

Esta elección presidencial marcará historia para la comunidad latina. Con una proyección de 32 millones de votantes elegibles, se espera que los Latinos sean la minoría racial o étnica más grande de la nación en la elección presidencial de EE.UU. Con altos números como el 40% de la población vota en Nuevo México y el 30% en California y Texas, las voces de los latinos están siendo representadas y amplificadas.

Sin embargo, al ejercer nuestros derechos, también debemos ser educados y confiados en las leyes fundamentales establecidas para protegernos. Estos se consolidan no sólo en nuestras elecciones presidenciales, sino en efecto durante las elecciones de todo el año.

Estos incluyen:

 Derechos Básicos:

  • Usted tiene la opción de votar temprano
    • Nota: Todos los estados tienen diferentes fechas para comenzar y terminar la votación anticipada. Para más información sobre las fechas de su estado visite:

  • Si el lugar de votación cierra mientras usted está en línea – permanezca en línea. Usted todavía tiene el derecho a votar.
  • Si comete un error en su boleta de votación, tiene derecho a solicitar otra boleta.
  • Si las máquinas no funcionan, puedes pedir una boleta de papel

¿Qué pasa si tengo dificultad para entender inglés?

Bajo la ley federal, los votantes que tienen dificultad para leer o escribir en inglés pueden recibir asistencia en persona al de votar de cualquier persona que deseen. Esto puede ser un pariente, un amigo o cualquier otra persona. Las únicas personas no autorizadas son los empleadores o agentes del sindicato de votantes, o los propios candidatos.

Las jurisdicciones cubiertas por el artículo 203 de la Ley de Derechos de Votantes deben tener recursos para votantes bilingües en idiomas específicos; el condado de Gwinnett es un ejemplo de esto. Esto incluye a los trabajadores electorales competentes en los idiomas y materiales electorales, así como información relacionada con las elecciones.

  • Para comprobar si su ubicación está protegida bajo esta sección visite:


¿Qué pasa si voy a votar y me dicen que mi nombre no está registrado?

Si usted está votando temprano y tiene tiempo antes del final de una elección, reevalúe su estado y registración (esta es como su información y lugar de votación). Si es necesario, usted tiene el derecho a una boleta provisional. Estas son boletas que se cuentan después de que se confirma la elegibilidad del votante.

 Tenga en cuenta: Su boleta no será contada si se encuentra en el lugar de votación incorrecto.

 Consejo: Si usted emite una boleta provisional, pida un número para llamar para asegurarse de que su voto fue contado.

Tengo una discapacidad o necesito alojamiento al votar

Bajo la ley federal, todos los lugares de votación deben tener accesibilidad para los votantes mayores y las personas con discapacidades. Durante una elección federal, cada lugar de votación debe tener al menos una máquina que permita a las personas con alojamiento votar de forma privada e independiente.

  • Usted puede traer a una persona de su elección para ayudarle con el proceso de votación.
  • Los trabajadores electorales deben estar disponibles si necesita asistencia.

 Consejo: En el estado de Georgia, el día de las elecciones, si usted es una persona que necesita alojamiento, no se le requiere esperar en la fila entre las 9:30 am – 4:30 pm.

Soy un delincuente condenado. ¿Puedo votar?

Estas circunstancias varían según el estado. Actualmente en el estado de Georgia, si ha completado su sentencia y no tiene entradas activas o libertad condicional, puede votar.

 Para comprobar las circunstancias de su estado visite:


Works Cited

Voting and Election Laws. US gov. September 1, 2020.

Felon Voting Rights. National Conference of State Legislature. October 1, 2020.

The Americans with Disabilities Act and Other Federal Laws Protecting the Rights of Voters With Disabilities. U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. September 2014.

Conner, Katie. You have Voting Rights: Know What They Are Before You Hit the Polls. CNet.

October 8, 2020.


Election Protection: Know Your Rights as a Voter. Voter. September 18, 2020. 

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO at  

Questions or concerns about voting? Call us at 1-888-54GALEO (1-888-544-2536) or visit

¿Preguntas o inquietudes sobre la votación? Llámenos al 1-888-54GALEO (1-888-544-2536) o visite

To Pledge to Vote for these upcoming elections, please visit

Para comprometerse a votar por estas próximas elecciones, por favor visite

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