Amelia Gonzalez: 2015 HIPGiver

Amelia Gonzalez Photo 200Amelia Gonzalez, President and Chief Executive Officer of Casa de Chocolates, Inc. Amelia Gonzalez is an entrepreneur, a natural teacher, artist and ardent supporter of Latino culture. And she does it all very sweetly. As she puts it, “chocolate is a celebration of culture.”
“Through chocolate, I am able to educate people about Latin America — its rich history, its traditions and the gifts Latin America has given to the world,” she said.
Gonzalez was raised in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, the gateway of East Los Angeles. But she has also lived in Lima, Peru, and Oaxaca, Mexico. She has traveled all across Latin America, and in 2012 she founded Casa de Chocolates, Inc., in Berkeley, Calif.
The idea for establishing a chocolate business focused on Latin American flavors and inspirations sprang up in 2011 when Gonzalez teamed up with Bay Area based chocolatier, Arcelia Gallardo.
Gonzalez has a background in public media and for over 20 years, she worked for KPFA, a listener- sponsored free speech community radio station in Berkeley that promotes cultural diversity and community understanding.
Gonzalez has always been passionate about art and culture. She and her husband founded the first folk art museum in Oaxaca, and it was during this time that Gonzalez was reminded of her deep-rooted love for chocolate.
“Once you’re committed to your community,” she said, “the opportunities to give back are limitless… it just happens to be chocolate this time.”
As a San FranciscoBay Area entrepreneur, Gonzalez has also emphasized her commitment to sustainability and to supporting community-based organizations and causes.
“The need is what drives me,” she said. “… As long as there is a need [in our communities] we have to do what we can.”
The trick is what Gonzalez realized when she was working in her art museum in Oaxaca.
“It’s determining what the need is, and what your gift to the world is, and how you can do that,” she added. “Give with your heart and talent,” she suggested.
“There are so many ways of giving,” she said. What’s important is that people give in ways that are best suited for them, and that they do so generously. Sometimes, the optimal way of supporting one’s community comes with hand-crafted artisanal chocolates.
The 31 HIPGivers recognized in 2015 are collectively altering the landscape for our country. They are pushing the envelope by asking for more – more consideration, more awareness, more compassion, more action, more giving.