Contributor

Antonio Gonzalez

President, William C. Velasquez Institute

Antonio Gonzalez is President of the William C. Velasquez Institute.<br /> WCVI, founded in 1985, is a paramount national Latino public policy<br /> and research organization.<br /> <br /> Gonzalez assumed the presidency of WCVI in 1994, after working in<br /> various capacities for WCVI founding President Willie Velasquez as<br /> well as his successor Andrew Hernandez during 1984-94.<br /> <br /> Gonzalez is the paramount expert on Latino voter mobilization. As<br /> such, he assumed the presidency of the Southwest Voter Registration<br /> Education Project, a non-partisan voter mobilization entity, also in<br /> 1994.<br /> <br /> Through Gonzalez leadership, WCVI has become the industry leader in<br /> Latino voting tendencies and characteristics through its national<br /> phone and exit-polling program.<br /> <br /> Gonzalez put WCVI on the map as the first national Latino organization<br /> to include transnational policies on the U.S. Latino Agenda.<br /> <br /> Key Gonzalez transnational initiatives included:<br /> <br /> sending delegations to observe the Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, South<br /> African, Mexican, and Venezuelan electoral processes in 1990 and 1991,<br /> 1994, 1997, and 2006;<br /> leading the Latino Consensus on NAFTA movement that led to the<br /> creation of the three billion dollar North American Development Bank<br /> in 1993;<br /> promoting greater dialogue between the U.S. and Cuba; and<br /> conducting international learning seminars for Latino leaders to study<br /> policy innovations in Europe and South America.<br /> Gonzalez has also helped the Latino agenda evolve through his<br /> pioneering work in blending traditional working class immigrant Latino<br /> priorities (those of a “minority”) with broader agenda priorities most<br /> notably climate change and urban greening (those of an emerging<br /> “majority”). This transitional process dubbed “from tofu to chile<br /> verde” has captured the imagination of Latino leadership across the<br /> U.S. and had its first expression in November 2005 with a California<br /> Latino Summit on the Environment.<br /> <br /> Currently, Gonzalez is leading a community-based collaborative with<br /> local government to help revitalize the Los Angeles River through<br /> development of parks, open space, affordable housing and schools along<br /> its banks in the urban core of Los Angeles.<br /> <br /> In 2005-06 through a Visiting Scholar program at the David and Lucille<br /> Packard Foundation, Gonzalez began work on a book on the future of<br /> Latinos. During his stay at Packard Gonzalez conceptualized the<br /> “National Latino Congreso”.<br /> <br /> Gonzalez initiated this gathering together with partners representing<br /> a cross-section of Latino organizations and leadership in September<br /> 2006 and again in October 2007.<br /> <br /> Wildly successful, the National Latino Congreso has begun a process of<br /> renovation, revitalization, and unification of Latino leadership at<br /> all levels, whose fruits will be greater success in achieving public<br /> policy change.<br /> <br /> Gonzalez has lectured and written on U.S. Latino voting behavior, as<br /> well as Latino participation in U.S.-Latin America policy. He<br /> currently appears as a regular commentator on the Public Radio<br /> International's Tavis Smiley Show and hosts his own weekly radio show<br /> on Pacifica ’s KPFK in Los Angeles called “Strategy Session”. Most<br /> recently, Time Magazine named Gonzalez in August 2005 one of the 25<br /> Most Influential Hispanics in America.<br /> <br /> Gonzalez has traveled extensively in Latin America and Europe, and is<br /> fluent in Spanish. A graduate in U. S. History of the University of<br /> Texas, San Antonio in 1981, he also conducted undergraduate coursework<br /> at UC San Diego during 1975-77 and Masters course work in Latin<br /> American History at U.C. Berkeley in 1981-82.