Guillermina Hernández-Gallegos, The Kresge Foundation

TITLE: Senior Fellow, Human Services

FUNDING AREAS: Poverty

CONTACT: (248) 643-9630

IP TAKE: Dr. Hernandez-Gallegos is well-versed in everything from HIV to Cuban refugees, and multi-tasks like a fiend to impact as many communities in need as she can. 

PROFILE: Guillermina Hernández-Gallegos, known to many as Winnie, spent her career working in both government and the nonprofit sector before joining The Kresge Foundation in 2011, first as a Program Director, moving on to Managing Director, and now serving as senior fellow. Hernández-Gallegos encourages a comprehensive, holistic approach to grantmaking that ultimately focuses on moving people out of poverty. She is also is responsible for shaping future nonprofit grant investments for The Kresge Foundation, which are aimed at helping make direct human-services organizations more self-sustaining and effective; promoting collaboration with intermediary organizations and networks to strengthen and expand the field of human services; and supporting research efforts to advance systems change. Ultimately, Hernández-Gallegos focuses on building and managing a portfolio of human-services grantees that will inform strategic work in addressing population needs and tracking current trends.

After graduating from the University of Miami, Hernández-Gallegos went onto earn her a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Not stopping with a grad degree from Harvard, Hernandez-Gallegos added the Doctor to her name when she finished up her formal education with a doctorate in social welfare policy from Brandeis University's Heller School.

In 1973, Hernández-Gallegos began her decade-long tenure as a Program Officer II and Social Work Coordinator at the Metropolitan Dade County Government. While working for the Dade County Government, Hernández-Gallegos supervised the staff at two regional offices, developed and coordinated services for incoming Haitian and Cuban refugees, implemented a homemaker program delivering services to homebound and disabled adults, and developed the training program and materials for management and other agency staff.

During her time at the Dade County Government offices, Hernández-Gallegos also worked with the Federal Office of Refugee Resettlement for the City of Miami as a counselor. Her counseling focus was on major projects working with Cuban refugees, including:

  • Working with the mass emigration of Cubans who left Cuba's Mariel Harbor for the United States between April and October 1980, widely known as the Mariel Boatlift Refugees
  • Spending four months at Fort Chafee, Arkansas working with several hundred unaccompanied Cuban refugee youth living within the adult compound of 12,000 refugees
  • Managing the delivery of meals for 20,000 refugees housed at the Orange Bowl
  • Working with City of Miami departments to help coordinate services for Cuban refugees

Leaving the warm breezes of Miami for the cold snaps of the northern east coast, Hernández-Gallegos began her work as a Senior Policy Associate with the Massachusetts Division of Employment Security. While there, she developed performance standards for regional and statewide programs, studied economic trends, and prepared policy briefs regarding dislocated workers due to manufacturing plant shut downs, working closely with culturally diverse groups.

Before officially making the transition from the government sector to nonprofits, Hernández-Gallegos worked on several research projects including Respite Care Study for the Health, Impact of Medicare Catastrophic Amendments in State Units on Aging for the Administration on Aging and Impact of Federal Policies on State Medicaid Budgets and Program Offerings, among many others. She also worked as the project manager for publications for the National Long Term Care Institute, and for a short time she served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Massachusetts' Gerontology Institute.

In 1991, Hernández-Gallegos accepted a position as the Director of Research and Planning at the United Way of Massachusetts. Continuing her work in the health and human services fields, she developed and prepared research briefs on subjects such as HIV/AIDS, substance abuse and domestic violence. Before leaving the United Way in 1993, Hernández-Gallegos coordinated the planning and research of two initiatives on early childhood development and community needs.

Clearly not a person that simply takes on one project at a time, Hernández-Gallegos worked as a research and administrative associate as well as a workshop leader trainee for Visions from 1988 to 1993. While at Visions, she helped coordinate workshops and prepared reports for client organizations. She was also completing work to become a trainer on multiculturalism and a consultant to nonprofit organizations addressing diversity issues, that is, until the W.K. Kellogg Foundation came calling.

In 1993, Hernández-Gallegos accepted a position as the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Policy Coordinator, working on issues affecting youth, education, social and economic development and underserved families and neighborhoods. In this position, she also provided technical assistance to grantees and helped implement policy plans for Kellogg initiatives. Eventually ending up in the Program Director's chair, Dr. Hernández-Gallegos worked on all things grant-related, including reviewing grant requests, preparing internal funding documents, and monitoring and evaluating existing grantee projects. In her true queen-of-multitasking style, Hernández-Gallegos also served as the Chair for the Social and Economic Community Development programming activities at Kellogg.

In 2006, she left the Kellogg Foundation to accept a position as a Senior Program Officer at the Fetzer Institute, where she stayed until The Kresge Foundation came calling. While at Fetzer, Hernández-Gallegos led the Individual and Community Transformation Team, which focused on work centered on higher education, business education, peace building and global leadership.