Hometown: Rockville, Maryland
High School: Richard Montgomery High School
Target Language: Spanish
Study Abroad: Havana, Cuba
During one of my first classes at Penn, my professor told me that college education shouldn't be about shrinking the world so it fits into your mind; it should be about expanding your mind so that it could fit the world. I really think the Huntsman Program helped me do that.
Fascinated by cities and global urban development, Gabriel pursued diverse academic and extracurricular interests during college. In addition to his Real Estate concentration in Wharton and his Huntsman International Studies degree, he picked up a third major in the Urban Studies Department and served on the Student Undergraduate Committee on Undergraduate Education. He still found time to play trombone with Penn Jazz and to tutor high school students in West Philadelphia through the Penn Music Mentoring Program. With funding from the Huntsman Program, Gabriel completed a summer internship with Pobladores, AC, a community-based microfinance fund in Xalapa, Mexico, helping low-income families on their path to home ownership, and says that a Latin American approach to community development still inspires his work today.
At Penn, Gabriel earned the Herbert Gold Award for Excellence in Real Estate, the Norm Glickman Prize for Best Urban Studies Thesis and the Civic House Community Leadership Award. He was also awarded a Marshall Scholarship to pursue graduate study in England. As a Marshall Scholar, he completed one Master's degree in Latin American Politics at the London School of Economics and another in Land Economy at the University of Cambridge. In addition to earning two graduate degrees, he also worked as a Project Officer for a public-private urban regeneration partnership and secured the first grant for one of London's only Spanish-language community radio shows. He never lost track of his Huntsman friends and says that living in London, there was always a Huntsman alum or student passing through to pay him a visit.
After completing his studies in the UK, he returned to Philadelphia to become the Executive Director of the Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation in West Philadelphia. Gabriel initiated a comprehensive, resident-led neighborhood plan through a process that was named a Finalist in the Philadelphia Association of CDCs' Blue Ribbon Awards. He also created the "Walnut Hill Street Team," an innovative door-to-door approach to resident engagement that's been recognized as a best practice by regional and national community development organizations. He was recently named one of Philadelphia's "101 Emerging Connectors" by Leadership Philadelphia.
In addition to his busy professional life, Gabriel sits on the boards of two community organizations, Rebuilding Together Philadelphia and the Painted Bride Art Center, and he is a volunteer with Big Brothers and Big Sisters. He also continues to perform as a Jazz/Latin trombonist, with performances in Philadelphia, London, Peru and Mexico.