Veteran community organizer Ana Garcia-Ashley has become the new Executive Director of the Gamaliel Foundation—the first woman of color in America to head a national community organizing network. Garcia-Ashley replaces outgoing director Gregory Galluzzo.
“Many Americans are hurting right now—spiritually, economically, and politically. For such a time as this we have been trained and called,” Garcia-Ashley said. “I believe that Gamaliel has the skills, the courage, and the commitment we need today to help give people of every race and background the chance to thrive.”
Born in the Dominican Republic in 1958, Garcia-Ashley was just four years old when she began canvassing in a rural village as part of a public safety campaign headed by her grandmother, a neighborhood activist. Following the assassination of dictator Rafael Trujillo, Garcia-Ashley and her family fled the political violence in the Dominican Republic. They settled in New York City.
Garcia-Ashley began organizing in 1981 after graduating from the University of Colorado in Denver. Deeply interested in the intersection of politics and faith, Garcia-Ashley also attended the Iliff School of Theology. She joined Gamaliel in 1992 as the lead organizer of MICAH in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she led one of the most successful campaigns in Gamaliel’s history: winning a $500 million commitment from local banks to invest in affordable housing. As a result, 7,000 low-income families in Milwaukee were able to buy homes. Garcia-Ashley also founded Gamaliel’s statewide Wisconsin affiliate, WISDOM.
“Ms. Garcia-Ashley’s performance at MICAH and WISDOM, and her roles on the Gamaliel national staff have made her a rising star in the field of community organizing,” said Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of the Center for Community Change. “She is also the only woman of color in the role of executive director among the major, long-standing congregation-based networks.”
“Ana’s arrival at this position as a naturalized citizen and a woman of color is a breathtaking shift for community organizing in America,” said Rev. David Bigsby, president of the Gamaliel National Clergy Caucus. “She is real, patient, passionate, and has a deep personal faith that will guide her in this position.”
Garcia-Ashley splits her home life between Franklin, Wisconsin, and Atlanta, Georgia. She is married, has two daughters attending college in the Atlanta area, and is a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Atlanta.
By: Stephen Boykewich, Gamaliel Media Consultant
The Gamaliel Foundation (www.gamaliel.org) is a non-partisan grassroots network of faith-based organizations in 19 U.S. states, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Gamaliel answers God’s call for justice by working to address the root causes of poverty, racism, and intolerance.