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 1994.
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 in 1993;
- 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 policy change.
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.