|McALLEN, November 5 – Longtime Workforce Solutions CEO, Yvonne “Bonnie” Gonzalez has vacated her post to lead a new non-profit organization in Weslaco.
The focus of the Knapp Community Care Foundation is to improve access to healthcare for those families who are low income, medically underserved or uninsured, according to Gonzalez, who made an exclusive announcement to the Guardian during a farewell event in McAllen last week.
“This new nonprofit is all about the mid-Valley, the Weslaco area, the Delta area and Progreso,” Gonzalez said. “I'm excited about what that means for the mid-Valley. It gives me an opportunity to bring my healthcare background and my public administration background, my innovation, my project development, and program development together.”
Knapp CCF was created when Knapp Medical Center in Weslaco transitioned to Prime Healthcare Foundation, and is funded using more than $110 million in proceeds from the purchase of the hospital.
Knapp Medical Center’s former board of directors have developed KCCF as a standalone foundation that is all about improving access to health care, improving access to healthcare continuing, to identify innovative training programs in the healthcare sector arena, and supporting indigent health care for the mid-Valley, according to Gonzalez.
“You know I’m a nurse by training. I haven’t done nursing in 20 years, but I went back two years ago, without truly knowing why, I had this amazing need to re-up my nursing license,” Gonzalez said. “Now I know why. I was being prepared to do this.”
Gonzalez said her first priority upon starting will include streamlining operations for the corporation to make sure “we’re doing things right and efficiently, and simultaneously creating relationships and partnerships that will leverage resources so we can continue to move forward as a corporation.”
Gonzalez was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Workforce Solutions in May 2003. As CEO, her job included planning, oversight and fiduciary responsibility of the organization that oversees workforce development services for Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy counties in South Texas.
At stake was directing millions of public dollars to services and investments in worker training, and services provided to the public and employers through the workforce development system.
“I think we are on the cusp of a new economic recovery opportunity to this entire Rio Grande Valley, and it is no longer just one or two cities. I see it in the mid- Valley,” Gonzalez said, after being asked to reflect on her time at WFS. “I see it in McAllen, Mission and Edinburg, Harlingen, San Benito and La Feria. It’s different from what it was ten or 15 years ago.
“I think there really appears to be a true regional economic movement. That's great. That's great to hear. For those of who believe in regional thinking, that’s great to see,” Gonzalez said.
Prior to becoming the CEO for Workforce Solutions, Gonzalez served as founding President/CEO for the RGV Empowerment Zone Corporation from 1995-2003. Her greatest accomplishment was taking a $40 million dollar federal investment and leveraging an additional $416 million in local, state, national and private sector investment into the Empowerment Zone communities.
In 1988, she established the Teenage Parent Alternative Program, a state recognized program for McAllen ISD. She was recruited by Harvard to attend the John F. Kennedy School of Government where she received her Master of Public Administration in 1993.
She received her Bachelors of Science in nursing in 1981 from The University of Texas at Austin where she began her career in the preventive health care area.
“Bonnie has the experience of starting an organization like this from scratch, and building the infrastructure and granting process,” said Rudy Salinas, president of Knapp CCF. “So we are really looking forward to her helping us doing that, and we really just started putting together our processes and we really haven’t developed policies to the extent that we need to.”