Member Highlight: Jerry Gonzalez

At last month's Annual Meeting, SECF members elected three new leaders to the Board of Trustees. Over the next three weeks, we'll profile each of them here.

Jerry Gonzalez already wore a few hats before he was elected last month to the SECF Board of Trustees -- and each of them place him at the center of changes taking place within the South and Southern philanthropy.

Jerry is a trustee of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Jerry is among several non-family trustees of the family foundation, giving him a unique perspective he hopes is helpful to the SECF Board.

The Babcock Foundation is also one of the most vocal funders in the region on the subject of equity, especially racial equity. SECF's own work on equity, particularly the recently announced Equity Framework, played a key role in accepting an invite to join the Board, Jerry said. 

"Given that SECF is leaning more into equity and what that means to funders across the Southeast, I felt it was a good opportunity to lend my perspective in the movement forward of this wonderful organization," he said. "It was with great enthusiasm that I accepted to be a part of that change evolving at SECF!"

As a Babcock Foundation trustee, Jerry says he's learned a lot about power dynamics, both within a family foundation and between a foundation and its grantees.

"My experience and learning in this space has allowed me to wear many hats and recognize how power is used for good in many ways across philanthropy," he said. "In particular, the sharing of power across family/non-family trustees, foundation/community partners. It is a delicate balance that we need to acknowledge exists for us to always try to get it right for the sake of the communities we partner with."

Racial equity also plays a key role in Jerry's role as founder and executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) and the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund (GLCDF). Jerry said GALEO's mission, to increase civic engagement and leadership development of the Latino/Hispanic community across Georgia, is especially critical given the demographic changes taking place in the Southeast.

"The Latinx and immigrant community are the future for the South in a major way," he said. "Deep learning and understanding on what that means is essential now, more than ever, as the South is being reshaped due to significant demographic changes that will become more apparent after our next Census.  We can always do better to embrace and learn from the growing changes happening now across the Southeast, and I am more than happy to help with that."

While Jerry hopes to put his experience and perspective to use on the SECF Board, he said he also plans to spend his first months on the board taking in as much as possible.

"Listening and learning from the many philanthropic leaders across the Southeast is a good goal to have in mind for the first year," he said. "Making sure I would be accessible to lean into our work together in equity is another."

Jerry, who lives in Atlanta with his husband, Ray, spends his time traveling, cycling, hiking and indulging a passion for photography. He received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University and completed his master's in public administration with a nonprofit administration emphasis at the Andrew Young School of Public Policy at Georgia State University in 2005.


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