Photo by Michael J. Elderman
Educator and community engagement professional Sabrina Gonzalez will be the inaugural executive director of the Civil Rights Institute that is opening in October 22, 2022 in downtown Riverside.
An Inland Empire native and third-generation American-Mexican, Gonzalez brings deep understanding and community knowledge to a role that will be vital to advancing civil rights across Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
Rose Mayes, Fair Housing Council of Riverside County executive director says: “Fighting for social justice takes passion, focus, energy, and compassion for others. Sabrina brings those qualities to be an impactful inaugural executive director.”
Ronald O. Loveridge, Civil Rights Institute board president says: “Current events have made it clear that the fight for civil rights is not over. I am confident that with Sabrina’s leadership, the Civil Rights Institute will inspire our next generation to pursue social justice.”
RIVERSIDE, CA – July 18, 2022 – The Civil Rights Institute of Inland Southern California Board of Directors announced the selection of Sabrina Gonzalez as the inaugural executive director of the public institute that will host exhibits and celebrate regional history while advocating for today’s social justice issues when it opens on October 22, 2022.
After a nationwide search, the board unanimously selected Gonzalez for her deep understanding of civil rights, connection to the Inland region, affinity for empowering people from diverse backgrounds, and vision for advancing the mission and goals of the Civil Rights Institute across Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
As an Inland Empire native, Gonzalez has dedicated her professional career to strengthening relationships in the community and capacity-building through her work with youth and systemically excluded populations.
“Current events have made it clear that the fight for civil rights is not over,” said board president Ron Loveridge, who served as Riverside’s mayor from 1994 to 2012. “I am confident that with Sabrina’s leadership, the Civil Rights Institute will inspire our next generation to pursue social justice.”
Gonzalez grew up in what was then called Mira Loma. She is from a working-class American-Mexican family that has called the United States home for three generations. As a first-generation college graduate, Gonzalez said she was molded by community mentors and her family’s emphasis on hard work, lifelong learning, and community care.
Moving from Jurupa Valley to Boston University exposed her to the deep social, educational, and economic divides in American society. It inspired her to make a career that promotes educational opportunities to address disparities among diverse communities.
Gonzalez served as a substitute teacher and coach for the Jurupa Unified School District. She worked as a teacher-counselor with the Cambridge Housing Authority, where she supported young people living in public housing with social services, life skills, and career training. Gonzalez holds a master’s degree in nonprofit management from Northeastern University and most recently directed an intercultural educational program for international youth.
Rose Mayes, executive director of the Fair Housing Council of Riverside County and vice president of the Civil Rights Institute board of directors, praised Gonzalez’s appointment.
“Fighting for social justice takes passion, focus, energy, and compassion for others,” she said. “Sabrina brings those qualities to be an impactful inaugural executive director of the Civil Rights Institute of Inland Southern California. I am delighted to work alongside Sabrina in the months and years ahead to create a new chapter in the civil rights story of the Inland Empire.”
Gonzalez will collaborate with the 11-member board of directors, diverse groups and individuals to advance the mission of the Civil Rights Institute across Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
Among her first priorities is to oversee the completion of the Civil Rights Institute under construction at 3933 Mission Inn Ave. It will be open to the public on the first floor of a five-story affordable housing complex called Mission Heritage Plaza. The Civil Rights Institute will be a center for community meetings, grassroots organizing, historical archives, civil rights exhibits and year-round educational programming. It will house an oral history recording studio to capture stories about the region’s civil rights history-makers and unsung heroes.
“The fight for civil rights is a fight to open doors of opportunity for all, and the Inland Empire is on the front lines,” said Gonzalez. “The Civil Rights Institute stands on the shoulders of giants – visionary and brave activists from Riverside and San Bernardino counties who believe a better world is possible. I am immensely honored to use my lived and professional experiences to continue to do social justice work in my home county and join the hundreds of people who have helped build this movement. I look forward to doing my part to inspire the change that inspired us.”
The Civil Rights Institute is set to open on October 22, 2022 with a public ceremony and outdoor live entertainment spotlighting the region’s diversity. Sponsorship opportunities are available—more information at www.InlandCivilRights.org.