At-Large Director 2022-2025
As a Junior League Member for nearly 25 years, Merilou Gonzales values taking the time to connect with people in meaningful and compassionate ways. The Junior League is a place where she can transform ideas into action alongside her community.
Merilou was initially a Member of the Junior League of Washington (JLW) but has spent most of her time in the Junior League of Milwaukee (JLM). She has held many leadership roles in JLM, including President, Chair of the New Member Orientation Committee, Communications Chair, and Vice President of Community. As President, Merilou supported the community involvement of 97 women who completed 353 hours of direct service to impact the lives of at least 160 children. She also implemented the first-ever online membership survey to invite feedback on community involvement, and supported an annual giving campaign that resulted in 70% participation and exceeded the revenue goal. As the two-time Chair of Community Program Planning, she led the request for proposals process, which resulted in a three-year commitment of volunteers and $90,000 to support Kids Matter, an organization that helps abused and neglected children. She recently received the JLM President’s Award for Active of the Year.
In addition to her JLM work, Merilou has served on committees and taskforces with The Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI). She recently served as a Nominating Committee Member on AJLI’s Women of Color Affinity Group. She has also been a Community Impact Design Team Member, an At-Large Member on the Nominating/Governance Committee, and a Member of the Collaborative League Engagement Taskforce.
Beyond The Junior League, Merilou is Director at Large for the Northwestern University Club of Milwaukee, a Board Member of the senior care organization Lutheran Home & Harwood Place, and serves on the Program/State-Wide Conference Committee of the Wisconsin Philanthropy Network.
Professionally, Merilou is the Communications Director of Bader Philanthropies, Inc. She was instrumental in the organization's three Public Relations Society of America Paragon Awards for media coverage and an annual report.
Merilou earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from DePaul University, her Master of Arts in Political Science from American University, and her Master of Science in Education and Social Policy from Northwestern University.