Read this story in Spanish: Conoce a Tanya González — primera latina en ser nombrada Richmond History Maker

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Tanya Gonzalez is the first Latina to be honored as a ‘Richmond History Maker’ by The Valentine Museum.

“It wasn’t like I set out to be a champion of social justice.”

Tanya Gonzalez
Tanya Gonzalez lived in McAllen, Texas until the age of 13.

Growing up in McAllen, Texas near the U.S.-Mexico border made Gonzalez who she is today and impacted her trajectory.

Gonzalez — who now works as the Executive Director of Sacred Heart Center — is being recognized for her social justice work within the Latino community. But she admits that she doesn’t always feel like she is working enough to solve the issues that Latinos in Richmond face.

“There are injustices that I personally see on a daily basis and to be honest it will always feel like I’m never doing enough,” Gonzalez told 8News.

Gonzalez said she’s always ‘en la lucha‘ — in the fight for access and equity for RVA’s Latino community. Working at Sacred Heart Center, Gonzalez is able to get Latinos access to city services and programs. She serves as a reference point, someone who others turn to when they need help.

The Sacred Heart Center offers Latinos tools to ‘thrive and flourish.’ The center offers educational programs for adults like GED preparation classes, ESL classes, computer classes. Youth and children can take advantage of ‘Kids of the Corazon,’ Pasitos Exitosos or college and career-bound planning.

Tanya with students of Casa Lápiz

Before working at Scared Heart Center, Gonzalez worked for the City of Richmond ensuring that the Latino community was represented and that programming was designed to keep them in mind.

20 years into her work, Gonzalez finds inspiration in her community and in the smiles of her students. In her free time, she teaches dance — Baile Folklorico — at the Sacred Heart Center.

Gonzalez is able to connect with the Latino youth through the expression of movement. She is able to make a difference by being a leader in her community.

At the end of the day, Gonzalez’s work comes down to this: being able to welcome Latinos to Richmond and make them feel that they are part of the RVA community.

Gonzalez and the Sacred Heart Center are working to extend services to Henrico and Chesterfield County.

Tanya Gonzales will be honored at the 15th Annual Richmond History Makers & Community Update on Tuesday, March 10 from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Virginia Union University.

For more information and to purchase tickets for the 2020 Richmond History Makers & Community Update, visit here