Sonoma County’s Becoming Independent Transportation Director Wins Latino Business Leadership Awards
Arturo Gonzaga, Transportation Manager for Santa Rosa-based Becoming Independent, is a 2021 laureate of the North Bay Business Journal’s Latino Business Leadership Awards.
Professional experience: Non-profit
Education: College courses
Staff: Five direct reports
Tell us your story and that of your organization:
I have been part of Becoming Independent (BI), a non-profit organization providing services to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in North Bay with the goal of uplifting human capacities, for 6 years.
I started as a driver and worked in our Life Skills department before being promoted to my current position as Transport Manager.
As the Transportation Manager, I oversee the Becoming Independent vehicle fleet and manage the transportation needs of all BI programs and clients while ensuring the safety and well-being of all.
During my tenure as Transportation Manager, I helped grow the secure BI document destruction business through customer acquisition, which led to greater market share and more high profitability for the organization, and cultivate relationships with local businesses to help support BI’s mission and provide meaningful employment for adults. with disabilities.
Is there a major accomplishment over the past year that you would like to share?
As an organization, BI has adopted a 50-year-old way of doing business and has completely transformed the way we have provided services during the pandemic and today.
As a result, we now offer a new hybrid of services, have implemented new protocols and procedures to ensure the safety and well-being of staff and customers. This is a transformational redesign of how BI provides services to over 600 people with developmental and developmental disabilities and we are creating the framework to serve even more of North Bay’s 9,000 service-seeking people.
What achievement are you most proud of?
Becoming a manager at BI has been one of my proudest professional accomplishments and being able to ensure that hundreds of people receive the support they need to access their community.
Over the past 18 months, I have been proud to be able to facilitate opportunities for individuals to connect and re-engage with each other.
What is your biggest challenge today?
With COVID, new transport and community interface regulations and security measures are constantly being reassessed and implemented. Constant change and staying flexible is both a challenge and an opportunity.
What are you most proud of when it comes to the achievements of the region’s Latin American business community and what are the biggest challenges this community faces?
I am proud to see how diverse our community is becoming and to see Latino-led businesses grow throughout our county. I have friends who started small businesses that have now grown into bigger, successful restaurants.
One of the biggest challenges facing the Latin American community is affordable housing. This continues to be a struggle for our community and business owners who want to work and live in the same city and boost our local economy..
Words that best describe you: People would describe me as professional, ambitious, knowledgeable, passionate, friendly and loyal.
As a successful professional, what were the biggest obstacles you encountered and how did you overcome them?
In 2013, I made the decision to apply for a work permit through the DACA and maintained an active status. The obligation to apply every two years and the changing political landscape cause a feeling of uncertainty and anxiety. As a community, we must make our voices heard and continue to fight for immigration laws.
How do you think your profession will evolve over the next five years?
As a leading innovator in the field of human services, I see significant changes on the horizon for the types of services that we are able to offer to members of our community, particularly in terms of is about employment and workforce development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Becoming independent is poised to create a program headquarters that will transform services and create achievable opportunities for all who receive services.
Who was your most important mentor?
The most important mentor in my life was my father, Jaime. He taught me that having a passion and drive will take you further in life and he supported me in my career decisions that have led me to my current career. His lessons on treating others the way you want to be treated continue to inspire me to be a better person and a better leader in my community.
Tell us about your community involvement: One organization that fascinates me is Corazon Healdsburg. Their mission to unite people to celebrate diversity is an important issue in our community and inspires me to give back.
Additionally, I enjoy volunteering for BI fundraising events and community education forums.
What advice would you give to a young person today?
Follow your passion and don’t be afraid to think big and act bold.
It’s a tough time for everyone, but the COVID-19 virus has been particularly hard on the Latino community. Tell us about your personal experience or with the group or company you work with to deal with the economic impact of the virus.
Personally, I lost my father in December 2020 due to COVID. It has been an emotional struggle for our family, but we continue to encourage each other to make every day a better day.
My dad always encouraged us to be the best versions of ourselves and I look to him for inspiration and motivation to stay strong.
What are the lessons of this difficult year – including the COVID-19 virus, the economic downturn and the fires – for you and how has it changed your outlook for the future?
Tomorrow is never guaranteed and to be successful in these uncertain times you have to learn to be flexible and adaptable.
Most Admired Businessman Outside Your Organization: César Toxqui | Caves César Toxqui
Current reading: “Go say it on the mountain”
Most want to meet: Barack obama
Anti stress : Long hikes and walks
Favourite hobbies : Go to football matches