Page 19 - BusinessWest 40 Under Forty 2024
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Joesiah Gonzalez
Chief Philanthropy & Communications Officer, Home City Development: Age 26
        Joesiah Gonzalez was just 23 when he first ran — successfully — for the Springfield School Committee in 2021. He was the youngest member at the time, and he still is, presenting a challenge of sorts.
“I think that sometimes, there’s a prejudice, or hesitance, toward folks who are young in any organization or institution, and that’s something I’ve had to overcome,” said Gonzalez, who
has certainly done that, taking a leadership position (he’s now the vice chair) and pushing for meaningful change on many fronts, including a policy on critical-incident drills that focuses on the safety of the city’s students.
This work on the school board is just one example of how Gonzalez has long been committed to community — and also to the nonprofits that serve it. He’s currently the chief Philanthropy and Communications officer for Home City Development, a nonprofit real-estate developer with a special focus on mixed-income housing in Western Mass., but also a provider of resident-engagement programs ranging from after-school teen initiatives to early-childhood literacy programs.
He started working with nonprofits when
he was just 20, joining the New North Citizens Council (NNCC) and overseeing the after-school youth programs at Gerena School and effectively expanding them to serve more young people.
He would eventually secure more than $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to establish a Youth Build program within the NNCC, and under his leadership, that program became a department, one that would grow to 30 employees and a $2 million budget.
In his current role, he handles fundraising and communications strategies for Home City, with a primary focus, on the philanthropy side, of raising funds to support resident-service programs that assist the more than 400 families housed in Home City’s multiple affordable- housing sites, work he finds very rewarding.
“Being at the table and also at the helm of certain initiatives, especially around resident engagement, allows me to drive impact in a way that’s meaningful, especially being from the city and living in the city,” Gonzalez said, adding
that he gets involved at a truly grass-roots level. “There are a lot of folks doing a lot of social- impact programs, but if we don’t check the pulse on what’s happening in our community and our neighborhoods, there can sometimes be a disconnect between well-intended efforts and true impact.”
Because he has the pulse of his community, Gonzalez’s own well-intended efforts are
certainly making an impact. BW
—George O’Brien
2024 A19

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