Enrique Gonzalez wears a lot of hats.
Not literally, of course, but in his 12 years with the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE), he has helped out with a wide variety of efforts—finding money, collaborating with community groups, and connecting people with services.
"I keep busy," he said.
For the last nine years, he has overseen the South County Regional Education Center and various countywide initiatives as a community outreach specialist. His responsibilities include working with various community and public groups, including school districts, police departments, SANDAG, and chambers of commerce, among others.
"I am honored and humbled to work at a place that I love where people respect what you do," he said. "It has been such an amazing experience."
As a community outreach specialist, he has been able to help out with some major collaborative initiatives, including Connect2Compete, Plaza Comunitaria, and collaboration between leaders on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Connect2Compete offers low-income families free or low-cost internet access in an effort to help close the achievement gap between different groups of students. In 2010, Gonzalez helped secure funding to provide internet access to almost 900 families in affordable housing units in San Ysidro.
"I love being able to connect people with services," he said. "We're trying to open doors for as many people as possible."
Plaza Comunitaria is a program run by the Mexican government that helps Spanish-speakers finish primary and secondary school online. Gonzalez started working on it as an employee with the Mexican Consulate in San Diego and continues the work with the SDCOE.
The most rewarding aspect of working with Plaza Comunitaria is being able to promote a culture of education that will allow parents to better assist their own children and to inspire them through their hard work, he said.
"To see how it changes lives and the impact if had on education for their children is just amazing," he said.
Gonzalez grew up in Mexico City and moved to San Diego County in 1997 to work with the Mexican Consulate. He moved to the SDCOE in 2001, initially with the migrant education unit.