Gonzalo Palza, a local community advocate and longtime minority business adviser, will take the helm of Centro de La Familia de Utah.
Palza, 53, was name chief executive officer by the board of the nonprofit serving Latino families. He is scheduled to start on Sept. 5.
Palza said he plans to spend "a lot of time and resources" on developing structures to help provide access to education.
"Centro de la Familia is a wonderful outreach model," he said. "It's not easy to be established and respected and trusted in the Latino community, but Centro de la Familia has gained that. . . . I will leverage that trust to offer educational opportunities to the Latino family."
Palza is a faculty member at the Western Governors University and at Salt Lake Community College's Small Business Development Center. He has been active with organizations such as the Pete Suazo Business Center and SCORE (Counselors to America's Small Businesses).
He replaces Kim Langton who stepped down in April after less than a year to take a public school administration post in Alaska. Centro spokeswoman Rebecca Chavez-Houck had served as interim director.
Langton's appointment had been controversial among some in the Latino community because he was from out of state and not Latino.
Centro Board member Frank Cordova said he hopes Palza's ties to Utah will keep him in the post long term. He said he expects Palza will help expand Centro's educational role by bolstering current programs such as Head Start and creating new programs for older children.
"He's been active as a community activist; he teaches," Cordova said. "He has a lot of emphasis on education."
Palza was born in Bolivia, and his mother is from Idaho. He obtained an undergraduate degree at Utah State University, and a master's degree in business administration from Thunderbird, The Garvin School of International Management, in Glendale, Ariz. He moved to the Salt Lake area after retiring from Otis Elevator Co. in 1996.