Rosio Gonzalez, the new president of the Consortium of Catholic Academies, has experienced firsthand the difference an education can make in the life of a child.

Gonzalez grew up in Santa Cruz, California with her four siblings. Their grandmother, originally from Mexico, raised all five of them. Gonzalez described her as a strong, faith-filled woman, who “helped form me in my faith and as a person.”

“She instilled in us always the importance of education, but it is not that easy,” said Gonzalez. “It is a tough road ahead when you come from a vulnerable community.”

In high school, Gonzalez was on a vocational track to work in banking. When she told her high school counselor that she wanted to go to college, he told her that college was not right for her.

But after working in banking for several years, Gonzalez decided not to listen to his advice and got her associates degree from a community college, where she had teachers who encouraged her to pursue her education further. She then went to San Jose State University, where she received her bachelor’s degree and became the first member of her family to graduate from college. She later earned her master’s degree in social work and management from Washington University in St. Louis.

“I know the impact education has on families,” she said.

At the beginning of her social work career, Gonzalez worked for a foster care and adoption agency, and later adopted a child of her own, named Mayra, who is now 30. Gonzalez’s husband, William Rainford, is the dean of the National Catholic School of Social Service at The Catholic University of America. Gonzalez and her husband go to Texas to visit their daughter and two-year old grandson, Alessandro, whenever they have the chance.

Gonzalez traces some of her interest in social work back to her grandmother’s example, recalling how she would frequently invite strangers over to help them with various needs. In doing this, her grandmother did what Gonzalez said the Catholic faith asks everyone to do: “caring for our brothers and sisters, opening our home and heart to others.”

Gonzalez’s grandmother would take the family to Mass every day and Confession every Saturday. They had a big devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, and their family frequently had priests over for dinner as well as religious sisters who came over to help her grandmother learn English.

“She definitely instilled a love of God – creating a personal relationship with God – wonderful and solid values,” Gonzalez said.

In recent years, Gonzalez worked as an associate director of Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of Washington, where she oversaw social enterprise, education and employment programs. Prior to that role, she worked for the Archdiocese of San Antonio as the director of the Department of Pastoral Offices. She has 18 years of experience managing non-profits, especially focusing on helping people get out of poverty through education.

“I believe that the pathway out of poverty has to have education as a part of the process,” she said.

Now, she will continue that mission as president of the Consortium of Catholic Academies, which makes Catholic education accessible to children who would otherwise not be able to afford it. Established in 1995, the Consortium is a network of four inner-city Catholic schools in Washington, D.C. joined together by a central office that oversees financial and administrative needs, allowing the schools’ principals to focus more on supporting staff and students.

The schools in the Consortium of Catholic Academies provide a beacon of hope to families in their neighborhoods. Consortium students have strong test scores and graduation rates. Sacred Heart School in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood offers a bilingual English/Spanish immersion program for students from pre-kindergarten through the eighth grade. Other consortium schools include St. Francis Xavier Academy in the Hillcrest community, St. Anthony School in the Brookland neighborhood, and St. Thomas More School in the Highland community.

In her role, Gonzalez will lead the strategic direction of the Consortium, oversee and manage operations for the four schools, help ensure academic success and best practices, and seek to continually improve the schools’ financial stability. 

“I think what the Catholic Church does in educating kids in the faith and in their academics is so important,” said Gonzalez, who added that through the work of the Consortium, they “have a real opportunity to change these kids’ lives.”

“Especially in these formative years, these are the most important years for kids to love learning” and to have a supportive environment to do so, she added.

As the school year begins, she said she is looking forward to visiting each of the schools and to working with the teachers and principals to learn what she can do to help enhance the work of the Consortium. She said she hopes the Consortium will continue to offer more scholarships and reach out to families who may not yet know about the opportunities that the Consortium schools offer.

“Rosio Gonzalez’s many years of experience in non-profit management and her commitment to serving vulnerable communities through academically excellent faith-based education make her a strong leader at this pivotal moment in the work of the Consortium of Catholic Academies,” said Jem Sullivan, the archdiocese’s Secretary for Education. “I look forward to supporting and working closely with Rosio in her new role as president of CCA.”

Tom Fitzgerald, chair of the Board of the Consortium of Catholic Academies, expressed a similar sentiment, saying, “We are truly excited to welcome Rosio as the new president of CCA. Rosio brings a wealth of leadership experience to her new position, along with the energy and vision to help drive the CCA forward.”

Gonzalez said she feels that the Holy Spirit led her to this job, as it sums up everything she has worked on in the rest of her career.

“I feel very privileged and excited to be here,” she said.