Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black history.

This year, CentroNía is taking the unprecedented step of recognizing those who have played a role in our history of growth and success. Meet Rosalyn Overstreet Gonzalez, Esq., a member of the CentroNía Board of Directors. 

Rosalyn is a mother, community activist and criminal defense attorney in Washington, DC. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish Linguistics from Howard University in 1986 and a Juris Doctor from the District of Columbia School of Law in 1993. Rosalyn is a member of the bars of the US Supreme Court, the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania. She is employed as a Staff Attorney with the Parole Division of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. There she has represented numerous clients in administrative/criminal matters before the United States Parole Commission. Rosalyn also serves as part of the Law Student Recruitment and Training Team and is responsible for supervising and mentoring law clerks and attorneys, who are new to the Defense Bar. Rosalyn is also an avid baseball fan currently serves as the President of the DC Babe Ruth Baseball League. She has coached and supported numerous youth baseball teams in the metropolitan area. Rosalyn is married to Mr. Pablo Gonzalez and they are the parents of two sons. The Gonzalez family resides in Washington, DC.

Rosalyn recently spoke with the CentroNía DevComms Team about her interests:

CentroNía DevComms: What drew you to CentroNía? 

Rosalyn: CentroNía is a beautiful place where everyone there is one big family.  It is a wonderful nuturing environment where children and the adults in their lives all benefit from development.  Caregivers and parents are given the support they need to raise healthy, happy children who are deeply loved and who deeply love.

CentroNía: How do your values align with the organization’s mission to “educate children and youth and strengthen families in a bilingual, multicultural community”?

Rosalyn: I am a firm believer that we are better together.  To me, CentroNía is the recipe for a perfect dish personified.  Everyone involved brings an ingredient to the table and in the end, something wonderful is created.

CentroNía: What advice do you have for those interested in helping their community?

Rosalyn: Go all in! Get to know your community, volunteer, mentor, share, the dividends are unparalleled.  I have met so many amazing people and have found that they know other amazing people and my world continues to expand.  I am grateful.

CentroNía: Tell us about your career path. How’d you end up in your current role as a Public Defender? 

Rosalyn: My original goal was to become a Spanish teacher. While studying at Howard University, I spent a year in Toledo, Spain becoming fluent in Spanish and linguistics.  While there, I had an epiphany and decided that I wanted to attend law school. One summer,  I had a law clerkship with the Public Defender Service and it was life-changing.  I was privileged to work with people in the community and thoroughly enjoyed engaging with my clients and colleagues.

CentroNía: If you could go back to learn one thing, what would it be and why? 

Rosalyn: I don’t think I could limit learning to just one thing – as life is full of opportunities to learn.  I think I would seek out more mentors – and people I could learn from and live vicariously through.  I have been richly blessed and very fortunate to be “adopted” by so many in the community.

CentroNía: What’s your favorite family tradition?

Rosalyn: Growing up in Southern California – our family had and still has a yearly tradition of an August Beach Party at Dana Point Beach.  It started out with our family of 5 and has grown to include our large extended family and friends.  The pandemic prevented our gatherings over the last two years, and we have lost some family members in the interim.  Hopefully, it will be safe enough for us to reconnect in 2022 – meanwhile, I have decades of memories to cherish.

CentroNía: The theme of Black History Month this year is Black Health & Wellness. What does that theme mean to you and how do you make space for your own physical and mental wellness in your life?

Rosalyn: Black health and wellness are of extreme importance to me.  Now more than ever, I try to model healthy behaviors and encourage those around me to reflect on their own health journeys and take action.  I have embraced the fact that I don’t have to be perfect – and I believe that “if it is to be – it’s up to me.”  I volunteer a lot with organizations that serve young people and their families and I find it therapeutic and an opportunity to encourage and share my story.  Black Health and Wellness necessarily encompasses mental and emotional health, and I continue to treasure and nuture both.

Thank you, Rosalyn, for taking the time to speak with us! Happy Black History Month!