González Presented with State Proclamation for work with Conexión Américas

Jose Gonzalez standing outdoors at Belmont in a profile photograph
Jose Gonzalez at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. March 30, 2017.

When José González took the stage at an annual fundraiser for the nonprofit he co-founded, Conexión Américas, he reminisced about a few favorite stories: Greeting President Obama in the organization’s community kitchen as well as the many times he handed people the keys to new homes in Conexión’s home ownership program.

“The numerous businesses that have been started or supported by Conexión Américas over the years,” he said, “the leadership created by parents that permeates the city — we could go on and on.”

As he looked back, he might not have predicted what came next. Tennessee State Rep. Jason Powell presented González with a state proclamation honoring his work. “Every now and then, we’re able to do some really nice things and honor people who have done so much for our community like José González,” Powell said. “On behalf of the state of Tennessee, thank you for everything you’ve done.”

González, a professor of Management and Entrepreneurship at Belmont, will wrap up his time at Conexión Américas this year. He co-founded the organization with Renata Soto and María Clara Mejía 20 years ago after making notes on the back of a pizza box.

“I’ve often said an impetus for Conexión was creating a place of belonging, of integration,” he said. “No one has benefited more from that feeling of what Conexión has given than myself.”

González came to the United States from Mexico City. He initially worked in public accounting in Nashville while also beginning to interact with entrepreneurs, which led to a connection between entrepreneurship and financial management. He built Conexión at a time when the immigrant community began to grow exponentially in Nashville. In a recent interview with David Plaza of The Tennessean, González shared more about his journey with Conexión Américas including early constructs and programs around immigrant integration in the economic, social or civic dimensions.

Marcela Gómez was an inaugural member of the Board of Directors of Conexión Américas. She now serves as CEO and Partner, Culture Shift Team. “For 20 years José stood in the gap for thousands of Latinos who came to Nashville and Middle Tennessee in search of a better life for them and their children,” she said. “His dedication to the mission of Conexión Américas went beyond office hours and served as an inspiration to staff and volunteers alike. José is the type of person who stands with you and for you. He is as happy to see my child thrive as he is about seeing his children thrive. José’s work at Conexión Américas created a wave of inclusion in our city that today is visible to anyone.”

Indeed, González and Conexión played a major role in the defeat of the English-only referendum, which González named as a galvanizing moment in our community. He also spoke about his own path to entrepreneurship while leading and teaching others.

“At the end of the day one of the things I enjoy the most is being an educator,” he told Plazas. “Being a mentor and working with people young and old who have an idea and want to develop it and grow it.”

González at Spring/Summer 2020 Commencements at Belmont University.