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Xavier Magazine | December 11, 2017

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Profile: Jerome J. Gutzwiller Jr.

By France Griggs Sloat

Jerome J. Gutzwiller Jr.
Bachelor of Arts in international affairs and Spanish, 1998 | Chemonics International, U.S. Agency for International Development, Lima, Peru

Latin Flair | While studying Spanish, Gutzwiller developed an appreciation for Latin American culture and issues. He switched his major to Spanish and international affairs with a Third World concentration. He later added a minor in Latin American studies.

Service Learning | An unplanned visit to Alter Hall as a sophomore changed his life. After listening to students talk about the academic service-learning semester program in Managua, Nicaragua, he signed up for the 1996 trip.

West Side View | “It was absolutely incredible. It changed everything. Here I was, this guy from the West side of Cincinnati who’d never been away from home for more than two weeks at a time, living in a working-class neighborhood in Managua where five young students were killed in the 1970s. It was the perfect combination of everything I was studying.”

Global View | Gutzwiller has worked or studied in Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador and now Peru. He met his wife, Rosalinda, while working with Crispaz, Christians for Peace, in El Salvador. And he has twice accompanied Xavier’s academic service-learning semester trips to Nicaragua as an assistant.

Capital Idea | His experiences in Latin America—including internships with the Office on Latin America and Amnesty International while studying in Washington, D.C., for a master’s degree—combined with his fluency in Spanish, led to a position in 2002 with Chemonics International. The Washington, D.C.-based development consulting firm contracts with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which funds development projects around the world.

Road Trip | In 2004, Gutzwiller was sent to Lima as manager of USAID’s $51 million poverty reduction and alleviation project. Stra-tegies include improving basic infrastructure such as roads so residents can bring their goods to market, increasing the markets, finding new products and replacing dependence on illicit coca production with legitimate industries.

Food for All | “You help the poor increase sustainable income by providing jobs, and you do that by bringing the poor into the market.”

Progress | The success of the project is in the numbers: more than $110 billion in sales, 50,000 jobs. Gutzwiller says some of the simplest solutions have been the most effective. One involved potatoes, a Peruvian staple. A Frito Lay subsidiary in Peru was importing all its potatoes from Colombia but now is getting 30 percent from Peru. Another is trout farming, a new crop for many former coca growers.

Out of the Box | “The mindset has been to always produce potatoes or peppers or alpaca wool without an eye for who’s going to buy them.”

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