Rural nonprofit leader Jorge Gutierrez joins as program officer

Jorge and his partner on a recent trip to Iceland.

Jorge comes to Group Health Foundation from Astoria, Oregon, where he served as the executive director of the Lower Columbia Hispanic Council (LCHC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the health, education, and social and economic advancement of Latinos. In joining the Foundation, Jorge says he’s eager to get to know and connect with communities and organizations across Washington State, particularly the smaller organizations that remind him of LCHC when he was first starting there.

“There are many people and communities out there that want to be more involved, both civically and politically, but they don’t have the infrastructure or resources,” says Jorge. “I’m excited about the opportunity with Group Health Foundation to provide that kind of support so communities can take their engagement and activism to the next level.”

During his six years at LCHC, Jorge led the growth of the organization from a single, part-time employee (himself) and $10,000 in the bank, to a thriving organization with eight full-time employees and a six-figure budget. He also dramatically increased the organization’s influence, expanding programming beyond direct services to include civic engagement and advocacy—and elevating the voices of the Latino community to impact local and state policy.

He’s most proud of forming La Voz de la Comunidad (The Voice of the Community), providing a platform for Latinos to engage civically and influence policy. The group meets monthly to learn about our social, political, and economic systems. It’s also an opportunity to bring together elected officials and decision makers in direct dialogue with the Latino community. La Voz has had some major victories: helping defeat a statewide anti-immigration bill, advocating for increased health funding, and supporting the passage of a city inclusivity resolution.

As soon as he started working in the nonprofit space, Jorge knew he had found the path he was meant to be on. Jorge really enjoys building connections within communities and social justice work that empowers communities to use their voice. “As a Latino immigrant, person of color, and gay man, I have experienced firsthand the disparities that result from not having a voice in policy decisions that affect my community,” he says. “It shouldn’t and doesn’t have to be this way.”

In Oregon, Jorge volunteered on several health and community boards. Once he gets settled here, he anticipates seeking similar opportunities to serve the community in Washington. He and his partner enjoy traveling (most recently a trip to Iceland), and are looking forward to exploring more of Washington. In their free time, they enjoy watching classic and horror movies. Jorge also reads a lot of history books, and is an avid cross-fitter.