Antonio Gonzalez is President of the William C. Velasquez Institute. WCVI, founded in 1985, is a paramount nonpartisan national Latino public policy and research nonprofit organization.
Gonzalez assumed the presidency of WCVI in 1994, after working in various capacities for WCVI Presidents Willie Velasquez and Andrew Hernandez during 1984-94.
In 1997 Gonzalez changed the name of the then-christened Southwest Voter Research Institute (SVRI) to its current William C, Velasquez Institute (WCVI) to honor Willie Velasquez, the deceased iconic founder of WCVI and its mother organization Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP).
Gonzalez is a paramount expert on US Latino voter mobilization and Latino voting tendencies and characteristics and during his tenure WCVI has conducted critically acclaimed survey research, notably criticizing mainstream survey methodologies that mis-measured Latino voting behavior in 2004.
Time Magazine named Gonzalez in August 2005 one of the 25 Most Influential Hispanics in America. During 2004-16 Gonzalez hosted his own weekly radio show on KPFK 90.7FM in Los Angeles called "Strategy Session with Antonio Gonzalez".
Gonzalez has also broadened the Latino agenda through his pioneering work in blending traditional Latino priorities (those of an excluded "minority") with broader agendas (those of an emerging, increasingly empowered "majority").
Since 2004, Gonzalez has led Latinos to adopt a policy of climate change resiliency creating various coalitions: the Alliance of LA River Communities (2006-10) in the City of Los Angeles, the Aguacate Alliance (2015-16) in Los Angeles County, and the statewide ProAgua (2016-present) all to help address issues of California water and park policy through development of parks, desalination and storm water capture projects benefitting Latino/underserved communities.
Since 2004 Gonzalez/WCVI led efforts to increase Latino participation in the LA River revitalization movement. "Revitalization" mobilized broad-based Latino and allied leadership and won large urban parks in historic "Chicano" neighborhoods (Dog Town, Cypress, Frog Town, Clover) along the Los Angeles River investing over $300 million in public funds:
- LA State Historic Park-30 acres-2017;
- Rio de Los Angeles State Park-50acres-2007;
- G2-Taylor Yards-50 acres-2017 under construction;
- Marsh Park-5 acres-2012;
- Albion Park-5acres-2018 under construction;
In 2006 Gonzalez led the formation of the Latino Voters League (LVL) a 501©4 organization whose purpose is to mobilize Latino leadership and voters on key state and federal policy issues. Most notably LVL has programmed on ballot measures and legislation on water, park, solar energy, climate change and marijuana legalization in California and Texas during 2006-16.
In 2005-06 through a Visiting Scholar program at the David and Lucille Packard Foundation Gonzalez conceptualized the "National Latino Congreso" which meets nationally or in states, seeking to stimulate a process of renovation, and revitalization of Latino leadership at all levels.
Since its inception WCVI has trail-blazed Latino prioritization of transnational "intermestic" policies. Key Gonzalez efforts deepened WCVI "intermestic" commitment with initiatives that included:
- sending delegations to observe the Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, South African, Mexican, and Venezuelan electoral processes in from 1990 to 2014;
- leading the Latino Consensus on NAFTA movement during 1991-97 that led to the creation of the three billion dollar North American Development Bank which to date has financed over 100 environmental/water projects along the US-Mexico border;
- normalizing relations between the U.S. and Cuba through dozens of people to people exchanges from 1999 to the present, including actively supporting the successful movement to restore US-Cuba diplomatic relations on Dec 17, 2014;
- conducting international learning seminars for Latino leaders to study policy innovations in Europe and South America from 2006 to 2014;
- conducting "End the Drug War" educational program in US Latino communities and from 1999 thru the present;
Gonzalez/WCVI has actively promoted Marijuana legalization across the southwest states since 2010 most intensively in California where in 2010 and 2016 WCVI led state Latino advocacy/voting efforts to approve ballot measures to legalize adult Marijuana use -which was successful in Nov 2016!
Gonzalez has vigorously opposed US immigrant deportation policies of current and past federal administrations. Instead he has championed a strategy of enacting incremental pro-immigrant state and/or federal laws and policy changes as an alternative to enacting overly punitive "enforcement dominated" federal legislation and regulations masquerading as federal "comprehensive immigration reform." He has been a staunch critic of all proposals to build a border wall along the US-Mexico border.
Gonzalez has traveled extensively in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean and is fluent in Spanish. A graduate in U. S. History at the University of Texas, San Antonio in 1981, he conducted undergraduate coursework at UC San Diego during 1975-77 and graduate coursework in Latin American History at U.C. Berkeley in 1981-82. Gonzalez shares his life with his wife of 26 years Alma and their two daughters Sara and Ysabel.