Until Feb. 1, 2023, we were Group Health Foundation. This post was written under our former identity. To learn more about our new name, read our announcement here.
Brenda Gonzalez comes to Group Health Foundation as a program associate for the grantmaking team with more than ten years of direct service experience at nonprofit organizations like Communities in Schools of Benton-Franklin, the Children’s Reading Foundation, and Catholic Charities.
Whether she was facilitating reading programs at apartment complexes in East Kennewick or supporting families navigating the legal system to secure nonparental custody of relative children, Brenda has always been motivated to be an ally: “If I see something is wrong, I’d like to think I’d stand up and say so.”
Brenda also has a strong sense of community, which began at a young age. She and her family moved from Jalisco, Mexico first to California and then to Washington when she was seven years old. She still remembers feeling out of place upon arriving in Washington and having to rebuild her community through the transition. She credits joining the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán club (MEChA) in high school with part of her success.
MEChA promotes higher education, political involvement, and cultural and historical understanding. Brenda attended their Children of Aztlán Sharing Higher Education (CASHE) Conference at Washington State University (WSU) designed to help students of Chicanx and Latinx backgrounds pursue higher education. After she was admitted as a student at WSU, Brenda made it a point to get involved with the CASHE Conference. She and two friends led the conference in her junior year to set other students on the same path to higher education.
Brenda and six friends also founded Alpha Nu Multicultural Sorority, the first multicultural sorority on WSU’s campus. She recalls how she and her fellow founders, who had differing racial and cultural backgrounds, considered themselves sisters and committed to creating a multicultural sorority they could all pledge. After working with an advisor to create a constitution and bylaws and fundraising to cover the cost of insurance, the group got the news that they were official. Their motto remains the same today as it was when they started: Come as you are.
As a program associate for the grantmaking team, Brenda will provide administrative and project support and shepherd key aspects of the grantmaking process. She’s looking forward to learning about grantee organizations across the state. She admires GHF’s unapologetic approach to funding community-based organizations. “[The website] very directly says, ‘This is what we do and this is why we do it.’ That’s how I am too!”
When she’s not working, Brenda is part of a book club with her sorority sisters. What began as a way to connect during COVID-19 has become an ongoing meet-up. Recent reads include “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison and “The Book of Unknown Americans” by Cristina Henríquez. She also enjoys spending time with her husband, parents, and her daughters, eight-year-old Soraya and six-year-old Luna. She sees being a mom as her most important role: “I want them to know the world, to appreciate diversity, to be open-minded and optimistic, to be proud of who they are and where they come from.”