Gerry Leonard can best be described as a humanitarian committed to social justice through community engagement and empowering individuals.
As the Volunteer & Racial Justice Coordinator at the YWCA of Asheville, Gerry organizes the YWCA’s annual Stand Against Racism campaign, a nationwide initiative to raise awareness of the negative impacts of institutional and structural racism.
In 2017, Gerry helped spearhead one of the most active Stand Against Racism campaigns in the country: the more than 50 sites in Asheville & Buncombe County comprised over 86% of all such sites in North Carolina, and over 10% nationwide. At the YWCA, Gerry also leads racial justice workshops, oversees a robust volunteer program, coordinates YWCA advocacy efforts, and is a member of the Racial Justice Coalition, a group of organizations working to become a national model for best practices and improved police-community relations in Asheville.
Gerry also serves on the boards of the WNC Chapter of the ACLU and Building Bridges of Asheville. He recently helped organize the first in a series of “Defending Your Civil Liberties” forum discussions with the ACLU, which focused on the freedoms and responsibilities associated with free speech and free press in our country. He is Secretary of the Building Bridges board, and also volunteers as a facilitator and occasional moderator for the organization’s twice-annual program series.
Having grown up in & around music, Gerry is a regular presence on community radio station Asheville FM 103.3. There he hosts a weekly music show called “The Looking Glass Radio Hour,” which features an eclectic variety of genres including indie, garage rock, electronic, punk and folk music. He also appears each week on the “AFM News Hour,” Thursdays from 7–8 p.m., which offers news, commentary, and interviews regarding a variety of issues affecting people in Asheville and WNC. Gerry hosts the weekly “City Council Report” with regular guest David Forbes, editor of the Asheville Blade.
A man with eclectic interests, including a love of travel and experiencing different cultures, Gerry has devoted his time and efforts to such pressing issues as improved food access, animal welfare, voting rights, and immigration policy. When he is not working, he is often writing poetry, sparking up conversations with strangers, and riding his orange bicycle around town.