Gonzalo Casals is the senior research and policy fellow for Arts and Culture at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. A cultural producer, arts administrator, and policymaker, Mr. Casals held various executive roles at El Museo del Barrio (2006–2013), Friends of the High Line (2013–2017), and the Leslie-Lohman Museum (2017–2020). Recently, he was the commissioner for the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, where he directed cultural policy for the city of New York while leading the recovery of the arts and culture sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also oversaw the allocation of historic record funding of over 250 million dollars a year, supporting for over 1,300 nonprofit cultural organizations, representing the full breadth of New York City's rich cultural life.
Before he was appointed commissioner by Mayor Bill de Blasio, Mr. Casals was director of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art (2017–2020), the US leading cultural organization focusing on queer arts and culture. During his tenure at the museum, he expanded its mission to include all communities under the LGBTQ+ umbrella, professionalized the museum operations, and situated the organization as a dynamic cultural hub attracting younger generations and BIPOC individuals.
As vice president of programs and community engagement at Friends of the High Line (2013–2017), he led the team in a transformative process that shifted the organization's focus to equitable cultural practices to impact its surrounding neighborhoods positively. Mr. Casals held various roles at El Museo del Barrio (2006–2013). As director of education and public programs, he focused on cultural production as a vehicle to foster empowerment, social capital, and civic participation. He consulted for CreateNYC (2016), New York City's first comprehensive cultural plan, and the NYC Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers (2017). A commission that developed guidelines on addressing monuments seen as oppressive and inconsistent with the city's values. He was a member of Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts NY (NOCD-NY), a citywide alliance to revitalize arts and culture from the neighborhood up (2010–2019).
His work and opinions have been featured in The New York Times, New York Magazine, BOMB Magazine, WNYC, and Huffington Post. A regular guest speaker on arts, culture, equity, and inclusion, Mr. Casals teaches at the City University of New York (CUNY), New York University, and Yale University. He is an active participant in Jackson Heights, Queens' civic life where he has lived since 2002.