gmhTODAY 29 gmhTODAY Jan March 2020 - Page 22

“My experience of the shooting hit too close to home. It’s going to be my focus ‘til my dying day. I look at my grandkids and I owe it to them to be part of the solution. Let’s create a world that all children are safe in.” Kelly Ramirez Teacher and community activist K elly Ramirez, 58, was born in the East Bay and moved with her family to Gilroy as a teenager. She graduated from San Jose State University with a Liberal Arts degree and teaching credential. Her teaching career included fi ve years at St. Mary School and Elliot Elementary, and twelve years at Gavilan College where she taught English. More than 20 years ago, she participated on a Relay for Life team and was so moved by the experience that she launched the fi rst annual Relay for Life in Gilroy, chairing and then co-chairing it the next three years. She went on to work for the American Cancer Society. After that, she worked in the nonprofi t sector as an Event Manager, and then was recruited by YWCA Silicon Valley as Chief Development Offi cer. From there, she was hired as Executive Director for Mt. Madonna 22 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN YMCA. Kelly retired in 2015 but returned briefl y to teaching when St. Mary School needed a Fourth Grade teacher and the new school year was about to begin. She is a Gilroy Rotary Club board member, Chair of the Mercantile Committee for the Gilroy Garlic Festival, and a co-founder of the Blessing Box, which provides emergency food for those in need. She is also a Eucharistic Minister at St. Mary Church and a volunteer at St. Mary School. Following the Garlic Festival incident in 2019, she formed group called BUILD #GILROYSTRONG to examine issues and increase awareness surrounding gun violence and advocate for change. Kelly lives in Gilroy with her husband Pete, a retired San Jose Police Offi cer and current Lieutenant with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s offi ce. They have three adult children and one grandchild. WINTER 2020