The Westside Development Corporation (WDC) has named Ramiro Gonzales as CEO and President of the nonprofit. Gonzales assumed the role in early September after serving as interim CEO of the organization since February.
“It’s an amazing honor for me to step into this role,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales has an accomplished background that mostly involves public policy and real estate, something he’s been investing in privately since 2005. In addition, Gonzales worked for the City of San Antonio for over a decade including with the Center City Development and Operations Department which was focused on the revitalization of downtown San Antonio.
“It’s kind of interesting because my role here at WDC as CEO now really feels like a culmination of everything I’ve been involved with to this point,” Gonzales said.
In 2017, Gonzales left his position with the City of San Antonio to pursue an opportunity to launch a real estate investment fund, however with plans to go back into nonprofit initiatives.
“I left to kind of get that going and get that started with the intention of going back into community service in some way,” he said.
One of those initiatives was called Rising Tide Casitas which was focused on preventing displacement for vulnerable families which is something that Gonzalez sees as a possibility for WDC.
“One of the things I’m excited about being with WDC is this could very well be something that tucks under WDC as a program,” he said.
Gonzales was working with various initiatives when the opportunity to step into the interim CEO position for WDC arose. Subsequently, the WDC board of directors then appointed him President and CEO in September.
“I’m very excited to just kind of bring everything that I experienced over my entire career, particularly in the last few years and just kind of bring it all together to address challenges on the westside,” he said.
Gonzales began his interim role with WDC only a few weeks before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. He was in the position for about a month when the festival South by Southwest was cancelled which was an indication for Gonzales that things were getting serious.
“That was kind of like the canary in the coal mine,” he said.
The team at WDC then began working remotely and moved to focus on addressing the challenges of the westside that existed both pre-COVID and post-COVID.
“The westside has always had its’ economic challenges,” Gonzales said. “I was really just stepping into WDC and trying to understand what was going to be our strategy dealing with pre-COVID challenges and then this happening forced us to really put everything on the back burner for a little bit while we asses exactly what was going on.”
Moving forward, Gonzales wants to raise the visibility of WDC and the work that the nonprofit is doing in the westside. In addition, he wants the WDC to focus on making intentional, incremental progress that addresses the entire ecosystem of the westside. Most importantly, however, Gonzales hopes to utilize the passion on the westside to help address the challenges.
“What does excite me is the passion the community has for the westside,” he said. “Our plan is to harness that passion from community to help us solve those problems.”