José G. Pérez was born in May 1968 in Milwaukee and grew up on the near south side, where he was raised by his Puerto Rican mother and grandparents. As immigrants to the U.S. in the early 1950’s, José’s family instilled a passion for hard work and a belief in the possibility of change in the first generation American.
José began his community work in Milwaukee in 1991, and early work experience ranged from investigating welfare fraud to developing gang prevention and youth development programs for non-profit organizations. José enrolled at Cardinal Stritch University and was the first Latino Student Government Association President and the first recipient of the Multi-Cultural Image Award that is now institutionalized at the university. He also interned for Congressman Kleczka in Washington D.C. through the Hispanic Congressional Caucus Institute (1996), for Milwaukee Mayor John O. Norquist (1997) and for the Milwaukee City Clerk’s office (1998) during the summers.
José obtained a B.A. in political science from Cardinal Stritch in May 1999. He soon became MICAH’s executive director and led the organization to create the Good Jobs and Livable Neighborhoods Coalition, consisting of labor and community organizations to ensure the Park East Land Corridor development would benefit the entire city. He also served as Hispanic/Latino Advisory Committee member for former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold.
In February 2004, José joined the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrialized Organizations (AFL-CIO) as a National Field Representative, and joined the City of Milwaukee, Department of City Development (DCD) in January 2006. He served DCD as an Economic Development Specialist working on business development, real estate development, planning, permitting and public housing until September 2009. Jose then became a Program Officer for the City of Milwaukee, Community Development Grants Administration, where he managed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects.
In addition to his university studies, José pursued many educational programs and certifications to enhance his understanding of community and leadership issues. He attended several institutes and received certifications in finance, real estate, economic development, multicultural entrepreneurship, youth service, management skills and advanced leadership.
José’s exemplary service, commitment and accomplishments have been recognized by many business and civic organizations over the course of his career. Most recently, he received The Business Journal’s Forty under 40 Community Leadership Award in 2008.
In 2012, he was elected to his first term on the Milwaukee Common Council.
José and his wife Rosaura have been married almost ten years and are proud parents of two young children.