Gloria Perez is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota (WFMN), where she leads the first statewide women’s foundation in the country. Since 1983, WFMN has distributed more than $32 million through community investments; conducts ongoing research on the status of women and girls in Minnesota; advocates for public policy that results in greater economic security and safety for women and their families; and invests in organizations and leaders to build the field and achieve gender and racial equity. As a national philanthropic leader recognized for innovative research, grantmaking and advocacy, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota builds pathways to prosperity for women and girls in the state with the greatest disparity in outcomes.

Perez became one of the country’s leading experts in two-generation strategies to reducing poverty as President & CEO of Jeremiah Program, a national nonprofit whose proven, holistic approach transforms families from poverty to prosperity two generations at a time. She has more than 25 years of leadership experience across sectors, ranging from small business, for-profit corporations to nonprofit human service organizations.

As the founding Executive Director of the Jeremiah Program in 1998, she led the design of the new organization’s structure, strategic plan, and program development. She grew the organization from local to national in scope, while increasing revenues from $650,000 to $6,000,000, and was promoted to the title of President & CEO in 2009. Her unwavering commitment to gender and racial equity derives from her lived experience as a Latina, a native of San Antonio, Texas, and an active community member in Minnesota. 

Leading with Community, Driving Innovation

“The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota’s vision of a world of opportunity for women and girls is an inspiring alignment with my life’s work,” Perez said. “As a young Latina in college, I was encouraged to see the power within me to achieve my goals and contribute to the larger community. Throughout my work I have seen how social inequities, fueled by policies and systems, create barriers for women, girls, and people of color that unfairly limit their outcomes and opportunities. 

“I am committed to working collaboratively across sectors to create a Minnesota that works for all people. With the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, I am eager to elevate the diverse voices of women and girls from across the state to inspire investment, inform solutions, and drive innovation for gender and racial equity.” 

In this role, Perez’s depth of experience and acumen in strategic planning, relationship-building, human capital management, and fundraising cultivates innovation and fosters community alliances to create measurable change for women and girls in the state through research, grantmaking, and policy. 

Gloria Perez began her career as a small business owner in St. Paul and took on her first non-profit role as Executive Director of Casa de Esperanza in 1996. As the leader of Casa de Esperanza (now Esperanza United), Perez significantly increased philanthropic investment in their mission to mobilize Latinas and the community-at-large to end domestic violence.  

As an inaugural Ascend Fellow at the Aspen Institute, Perez works with other national leaders to drive innovative ideas and proven strategies to help families achieve educational success and economic security. She was one of two fellows selected by Ascend to attend the Aspen Institute’s Action Leaders Forum in 2016, a gathering of 350 world leaders who have been successful in moving thought to action. She also contributed an essay to Maria Shriver’s report, “A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink.”

A graduate of Macalester College, Gloria is a recipient of the Alexandrine Medal from St. Catherine University, Catharine Lealtald Service to Society Award, Ellis Island Medal of Honor, Women of Distinction Award from the Girl Scouts Council of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys, Citizen of the Year Award from the Minneapolis University Rotary Club, Unsung Hero Award from WomenVenture, and Ruby Award from the Minneapolis Chapter of Soroptimist International. She serves on the board of directors for Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the Ciresi Walburn Foundation, and the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation. Perez has two children and lives with her husband in Minneapolis.


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