Gregory Pizarro, Jr.
Company: Glehouse Politics
Position: Managing Partner
WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
Paterson, NJ but grew up in York, Pennsylvania
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN CHARLOTTE AREA?
TELL US A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT YOU?
As a child, I have always known that I wanted to serve in our Armed Forces and after surviving abuse and homelessness as a adolescent, I attended Hampton University and commissioned into the United States Army. After serving on Active Duty for General Officers, I transitioned in the US Army Reserves, where I currently serve, to work in Corporate America at Bank of America. I had the privilege of being selected as 1 of 9 military officers in Charlotte to serve in the 2016 class of Bank of America’s Junior Military Officer Leadership Program. While serving in the program I began to build my brand in the Charlotte and North Carolina community as as a community activist and philanthropist.
I first joined the Equality NC board as the youngest sitting board member where I stood firm in fighting the discriminatory, anti-LGBT bill HB2. As a survivor of homelessness, I was later inspired to join the Supportive Housing Communities board where I advocate for homeless Charlotteans. This past March, I served as the Keynote Speaker for the annual SHC luncheon where we raised $365K. This was particularly notable for me as it was the first time that I spoke to a crowd of more than 800 about my homeless experience. These are just small examples of how I try to positively impact the Charlotte community. I have volunteered for other organizations including, but not limited to, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Campus Pride, The Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Fund, Pershing Rifles Group, and the MS Society. In addition to my board roles for Equality NC and SHC, I hold board seats for the Charlotte Housing Appeals Board and the Generation NOW Network.
However, the real impact, in my opinion, comes from my work in the political arena where I have served in strategy and advisory roles to several candidates and elected officials in Charlotte and across the country. I believe that policy is the most fundamental way to impact marginalized and disenfranchised communities so this past year I started my own company and began the process of bringing on new clients that were ready to help these communities. My work the last two years have earned me national recognition from OUT Magazine and LinkedIn.
Later this month I will be attending the Harvey Milk Foundation Diversity Honors as an awardee. I look forward to this opportunity as I share a birthday with Harvey and almost see it as an opportunity to carrying his torch in politics towards the future.
DURING YOUR TIME VOLUNTEERING FOR A COMMUNITY ACTIVITY OR PROJECT, WHAT IS YOUR MOST MEMORIAL MOMENT?
Most Memorable moment would be being a “Guy” for the annual Cystic Fibrosis Guys and Dolls Gala in 2016 here in Charlotte. During the event, the auctioneer spoke about my military service to this nation and before my Turks package was auctioned off for $8700, I was given the biggest standing ovation of my career. It lasted a solid 5 min. It was touching and an emotional moment.
IN YOUR OPINION, HOW DO YOU CONTRIBUTE TO THE COMMUNITY?
Beyond all my community service and philanthropic work that I highlighted in other answers, I am currently working on some large projects for the Charlotte community. For example, I am working with Congress man Mark Takano, Equality PAC Chair, to bring the DCCC to Charlotte NC and host a political event highlighting the work done in Charlotte to bridge the gap of equality. This will be the first time that the DCCC has been to NC in decades. My vision is to continue to build bridges for Charlotte to US government. We have strong voices in Charlotte that have been unheard for so long and it has been a mission of mine to address that. With the impact of HB2 still on our heels- I thought this would be a great step in mending fences with our national congressional leaders in the right direction.
PLEASE LET US KNOW ANY AWARDS OR RECOGNITIONS YOU’VE RECEIVED IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL CAREER:
Because most of my career has been spent in the military most of my awards are Army Meritrious Service and Accommodation Medals however because of my community work, I have received the following:
2018 OUT Magazine’s Hero of Diversity Award
2018 Adam Telefario Resiliency Award
2017 Linkedin’s Top 10 Finance Professionals Presented by Generation NOW Cincinnati
2016 Equality Leadership Award.
WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES OR INTEREST?
I enjoy playing basketball at the Charlotte Athletic Club at noon during the weekdays. I love to watch baseball (live or on tv), live music and reading political satire.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE THAT YOU STAND BY?
“Keep your face always toward the sunshine—and shadows will fall behind you.” This quote is particular one that has inspired me for years given the dark spaces I have had to overcome to be fortunate enough to stand where I am today.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 5 YEARS? 10 YEARS?
In five years, I will likely be affecting policy either in a consulting role to elected officials and private entities or as a congressional aide. In ten years, God-willing, I will be running for office in some capacity, whether my first run or somewhere in the re-election process (now that is the dream). Moreover, the policy space for me is most important. Being able to impact the masses in my community positively through legislation is much more important to me than holding any office in the nation.
CAN YOUR SHARE ONE THING THAT IS ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?
Go to all 30 MLB stadiums by 30. I have a season and a spring training to hit the last 7.
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU USED YOUR PASSPORT?
Well considering I lost my id not too long ago…I just used it to fly to Los Angeles earlier this month HAHA!
WHAT IS A FUN FACT ABOUT YOURSELF THAT NO ONE KNOWS?
I absolutely hate toppings on my pizza. I eat them when my family friends order it and I cringe every single bite. Hopefully they are reading this.
WHO IS YOUR HERO?
You know many people always point to their family members as heroes when they accept awards like this but I have a bit of a different story. When I was coming out, as bisexual, to my family and friends this past year – I searched hard for inspiration to do so. I was pretty caught up in my losses and gains when it comes to family (especially my siblings as they are the closest people in my life). While typing this rather inspiring message I read transcripts of Harvey Milk’s speeches. And I came across a line that particularly hit me hard because of the political work I do. Harvey said “All men are created equal. No matter how hard they try, they can never erase those words. That is what America is about.” It was actually pretty profound to think about. Here is a guy who was oppressed his whole life because of his sexuality. But a man who didn’t care what obstacles he would encounter because he believed the true essence of the constitution—that we are all created equal and deserve to dream; deserve opportunity; deserve respect; but most importantly deserve equality. Like just wow! And to think I share a birthday with him. Simply Honored.
His work is still not finished, and I am humbled to carry that torch.
WHAT WAS THE LAST BOOK YOU READ?
I am currently reading “What it Takes” by Richard Ben Cramer
WHAT WAS THE LAST MOVIE YOU SAW?
In the theater– Love Simon. At home—Big Daddy (LOVE THIS MOVIE)
WHAT WAS THE LAST CONCERT YOU SAW?
Pitbull and Enrique