ERNIE Garcia

Rise Up Industries Alumnus

Ernie Garcia graduated from Rise Up Industries’ Reentry Program in 2019. After joining a gang at the age of 12, Ernie later spent 29 years incarcerated. Upon release from prison, Ernie completed the Reentry Program and was immediately hired as a machine operator at a local manufacturing company. 

Ernie says that his strength comes from God who has shown him that the greatest sense of value one can possess is living in service to others. Ernie has spoken at numerous speaking engagements since 2019, inspiring others towards hope and healing.


San Diego Community Leader

Former Chief Probation Officer for San Diego County, Dr. Adolfo Gonzales was appointed in January 2021 as Chief Probation Officer in Los Angeles County. Gonzales brings over 40 years of experience in law enforcement, institutional rehabilitation, investigations, and community engagement. Raised in Otay Mesa and familiar with the experience of growing up in a violent neighborhood, he aims to create more restorative systems of rehabilitation. 

Under Gonzales, San Diego’s probation department began partnering with community mentors in gang prevention efforts. Similarly, our Reentry Program members and graduates speak with at-risk youth to inspire and encourage them to make positive life decisions.


Big Night Out Emcee

Born and raised in Detroit, Michael Brunker served 22 years as the Executive Director of San Diego’s Jackie Robinson Family YMCA before becoming the first Chief Executive Officer of the Third Option City. 

Named the 2019 “Mr. San Diego” for his tireless efforts to uplift and motivate disadvantaged youth, Michael is sure to weave together an evening marked by compassion and wisdom.


Rise Up Industries’ Executive Director

Retired as a Corps of Engineers Army Colonel in 2000, Joseph Gilbreath co-founded Rise Up Industries and has served as Executive Director since 2013. Throughout his 26-year career in the Army, he served in numerous leadership positions.

After retiring, Joe used his leadership experience in service of multiple nonprofits, including Habitat for Humanity and Kairos Prison Ministry at RJ Donovan.


Please contact Nicole Wriedt at (619) 457-0790 or with questions regarding event sponsorships.