Geronimo M. Rodriguez Jr.
Geronimo M. Rodriguez Jr. currently serves as Chief Advocacy Officer for Ascension Texas which comprises Ascension Seton and Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas and Ascension Providence in Waco, Texas. Ascension Texas is a part of Ascension, one of the largest non-profit healthcare systems in the United States. He joined Ascension Texas in June 2006 to expand and institutionalize efforts across the healthcare system in the areas of diversity, inclusion, cultural competence, federal contract compliance, workforce development and civic engagement. He is currently responsible for the Ascension Texas’ Advocacy & External Affairs, Community Investment, Human Trafficking, Workforce Development and Medical Response Unit Departments.
Mr. Rodriguez currently serves on the St. Edward’s University Board of Trustees, Austin Community Foundation Board of Governors, and the Austin Anti-Defamation League Board. He is also a member of the Austin Area Research Organization, Member of the Subiendo Academy for Rising Leaders Advisory Council, and is an alumni of Texas Lyceum, the Lola Wright Foundation and the FBI Citizens Academy. Finally, he served as President of the Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees, is a Past Chair of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Past Chair of the Leadership Austin Board of Directors, served two years as a Board Member of the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), a Member of the National PTA Resolutions Committee, former Board Member of Austin PBS, the local public television station, the Impact Center, and served as a member of the Seton Board of Trustees’ Justice in the Workplace Committee.
Mr. Rodriguez served in the White House Office of Congressional Affairs where he helped with legislative
preparations for the Seattle Round of the World Trade Organization. In addition, he served as Deputy
Associate Director and later Acting Associate Director in the White House Office of Presidential
Personnel where he was responsible for recommending a third of the President’s senior level appointments. He was also responsible for advising senior White House staff on appointments affecting the Hispanic community.
Mr. Rodriguez, a native of Alamo, Texas, graduated from St. Edward’s University with a bachelor’s
degree, cum laude, where he received a four-year academic scholarship and a College Assistance
Migrant Program Scholarship. He served as Student Body President of St. Edward’s University. Mr.
Rodriguez also attended the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University as a
Woodrow Wilson Fellow and received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law.
As a child, Mr. Rodriguez spent eight months a year as a migrant farmworker traveling with his parents
from South Texas to the Northwest United States following the harvest seasons. His parents continue to
harvest crops in Oregon and Mr. Rodriguez joins them annually for a week.
Gilbert Zavala is Vice President of Education & Talent Development at the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. He oversees school district and higher education partnerships to execute the Chamber’s education/talent development strategies across the Austin MSA and advocates for Chamber federal and state policy priorities to improve education attainment and talent development for Central Texas.
Gilbert represents the Chamber on multiple state and national boards. He has chaired the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) Education Attainment Division Advisory Board and represented Austin on the ACCE Board of Directors. He served as co-chair for the Texas College Access Network (TXCAN), serves on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Financial Aid Advisory Committee, and served on the Texas Education Agency (TEA) Financial Aid Advisory Committee. Gilbert represents the Chamber on the Austin and Round Rock Partners in Education boards. He previously served on state leadership teams for the Texas Reach Higher Challenge, aligning regional education attainment efforts with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher initiative, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) 60X30 Strategic Plan to improve education attainment in Texas. He currently serves on the THECB Commissioner’s Economic and Workforce Council.
Thanks in part to Gilbert’s leadership, the Austin Chamber has received national recognition for its education attainment and talent development strategies. These efforts have been recognized as models by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, White House Reach Higher Initiative, the National Consortium for School Counseling & Postsecondary Success, and the National League of Cities.
Gilbert is an ACCE Education Attainment Division Fellow, a U.S. Chamber Business Leads Fellow, an ACCE Leadership Diversity fellow, and accepted ACCE’s Regional Innovation Award for Education & Workforce Initiatives on behalf of the Chamber. Prior to joining the Chamber, Gilbert worked at the University of Texas at Austin, Charles A. Dana Center while in graduate school, and managed college programming for College Forward, a college completion non-profit serving low-income and first-generation college students. Gilbert holds a BA from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.