Today, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota (WFMN) announced that its Board of Trustees has appointed Gloria Perez as President and CEO, effective February 17, 2020.
Perez, formerly the President & CEO of the Jeremiah Program, is a nationally recognized expert in two-generational strategies for reducing poverty.
She succeeds Foundation President & CEO, Lee Roper-Batker, who retires this month after a 19-year tenure. Over the past year, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota partnered with Korn Ferry to conduct a comprehensive local and national President & CEO search.
Reflective of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota’s mission to drive gender and racial equity, the search was highly inclusive and informed by more than 250 stakeholders within Minnesota and throughout the U.S.
“The Board of Trustees is thrilled to welcome Gloria Perez to the Women’s Foundation. Her outstanding leadership and strategic vision will continue to grow the Foundation’s statewide mission to invest in innovation to drive gender and racial equity,” said Susan Segal, Women’s Foundation board chair, who led the internal search committee. “We look forward to her fresh perspective, dedication to equity, and depth of experience as a leader and as an advocate for women and girls.”
“I’m delighted to pass the torch to a vibrant leader who centers women and girls as solution-builders, and holds transformative relationships across many sectors,” said Lee Roper-Batker.
Perez brings more than 25 years of experience, 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. She has shared that 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.
“The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota’s vision of a world of equal 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 will cultivate innovation and foster community alliances to create measurable change for women and girls in the state through research, grantmaking, and policy.
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.
Speaking on behalf of the board, Segal said, “Gloria Perez joins a strong Foundation, with a Board and staff committed to working together to build pathways to prosperity and safety for all women and girls in the state.”
Leading with Community, Driving Innovation
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, Perez significantly increased philanthropic investment in their mission to mobilize Latinas and the community-at-large to end domestic violence.
Perez was named among the inaugural group of Fellows in the prestigious Ascend Program of the Aspen Institute where she worked with 20 other leaders from across the country who are driving innovative ideas and proven strategies to help families achieve education success and economic security.
In addition to dedicating her career to the community, Perez has taken on volunteer board and advisory committee roles, including service on the board of the Saint Paul Minnesota Foundation, the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the Ciresi Walburn Foundation, and the Federal Reserve of Minneapolis.
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.