Sep 13, 2019
Joe Gonzalez, Executive Director
Latino Heritage Festival


In 2014, Joe Gonzalez retired from the DM Police Department.  Shortly after, he became Executive Director of Latino Resources, Inc., the non-profit organization running the annual Iowa Latino Heritage Festival.   This year’s festival takes place Saturday, September 28 and Sunday, September 29 in Downtown’s Des Moines’ Western Gateway Park.          

Joe graduated from DMACC in 1971 and soon after was hired as a Des Moines Police Cadet.  Promotion to  Police Officer came in 1975.  Joe’s next promotion was to the rank of Sergeant in 2004 and he leads the Community Outreach and Protective Services Division. 

In 2010 he was again promoted; this time to the rank of Lieutenant, commanding the Neighborhood Based Service Delivery Unit. This unit had officers working with the neighborhood associations in the city. He also oversaw the Mobile Crisis Unit responding to calls on individuals that were having mental health crises. In addition, he oversaw the Police Activities League and ran a boxing club for youth. 

Joe’s a 2007-2008 graduate of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute and was honored with the Community and Visioning award in 2012.

He has been recognized by the 

  • U. S. Attorney’s Office 
  • Domestic Abuse Coordinating Council 
  • Iowa Organization of Victim Assistance, and 
  • United Latinas for a New Dawn for his work in assisting victims of domestic violence 

In 2003 the Des Moines Rotary Club selected him as the Police Officer of the Year. 

Upon his retirement in 2014 Chief Judy Bradshaw honored him with the meritorious service award in recognition of his distinguished career. Joe is the highest-ranking Latino in the history of the Des Moines Police Department.

He currently serves on the Proteus and Police Activities boards and is a past board member of the Variety Club, Chrysalis Foundation, Polk County Housing Trust Fund, and Broadlawns Hospital. 

Joe is also currently involved with the Inclusion and Diversity Council and the Equity and Inclusion Committee. He has been a mentor for the Community Connect Program for 4 years.

When asked what strong community involvement means to him, Joe responds “this means all community members are involved and engaged in civic activity to make the community better, to help it thrive, and to be inclusive. It’s something that is done in everyday life as we make our decisions and as we work, live, and play in our community.”