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