All month long, as part our Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, we’ll be highlighting and honoring some of our 2019 Líderes.
HIP’s Líderes Fellowship cultivates mid-career Latinos working in philanthropy and nonprofits by gaining knowledge, learning new practices, and building relationships within a network that supports their ability to advance and thrive.
This year’s HIP Lideres represent 19 grantmaking institutions and 12 nonprofits from across the United States. Lideres were chosen on the basis of demonstrating a commitment to working for racial equity to achieve social justice. The Fellows represent diverse Líderes—including indigenous, Afro, women, and LGBTQI Latinos—who have the courage to work in the complexity of the intersections in which we all live, including race, class, education, gender identity, ability, etc.
Meet Keisha Gonzalez
Tell us about yourself. What do you want people to know about you as a Latinx professional in the philanthropic and social sector?
I joined the Cleveland Foundation in June 2018 as the Program Officer for Community Revitalization and Engagement bringing 6 years of dynamic place preservation experience to Cleveland’s philanthropic sector.
Driven to serve the Latinx community that formed me, I began my non-profit career as a community organizer advocating for bi-lingual network weaving and the deconstruction of traditional block club infrastructure. I earned a BA in Anthropology from Cleveland State University and a Master of Arts in Historic Preservation from the University of Delaware’s Biden School of Public Policy and Administration. During my time at UD I worked for the Mid-Atlantic Historic Buildings and Landscape Survey at the Centre for Historic Architecture and Design documenting at-risk historic dwellings, infrastructure for local and state governments.
What calls you to do this work today?
Raised in the densest Latinx community in the state of Ohio, I learned early on the value of informal economies, systems of reciprocity, and complex nature of the social services sector. Inspired by the hustle that raised me and my own challenges as a single mother, I have dedicated my career to challenging Cleveland’s nonprofit ecosystem to exercise cultural competency and turn to the communities they serve for solutions.
What brings you joy?
I find joy in the small wins that contribute to the building of a city that will provide socially, emotionally, and culturally to my two boys. Recently this has included supporting the early stages of the neighborhood master plan for the community that raised me as well as facilitating conversations around equity in significant real-estate investments throughout Cleveland.
How will you transform Philanthropy?
To transform philanthropy is to, in the words of bell hooks, “…be comfortable with the circumstance of risk…” and to acknowledge that constructs of safe spaces are non-existent. When I reflect on my role and responsibility in the transformation of the philanthropic sector, I look to dismantle the relationship between funder and grantee and reconstruct one of partnership through practitionership. Playing an active role in convening, leveraging social capital, and serving as a critical friends for organizations and efforts working towards la causa.