Immediately following her undergraduate career at Tufts University in Boston, MA where she studied both French and Spanish Literature, she moved back home to Miami Beach, FL, her hometown, worked as an internet journalist, and started a family. While raising her young children, she went back to school part-time and earned a Master’s Degree in Communication at Barry University in 2006.
Kristen is grateful for her education because when she divorced, she was immediately able to find a job as an English Teacher at Miami Central, an inner-city high school and one of the most challenged schools in the Miami Dade County School District. This experience allowed Kristen to develop an in-depth understanding of the county’s K-12 educational system, and, after one-year, she was hired as a full-time faculty member at Miami Dade College, the nation’s largest community college.
For the past eight years at the college, (Associate) Professor Rosen Gonzalez has served on Miami Dade College’s Legislative Advocacy Committee and lobbied in Tallahassee, the Theodore Gibson Oratorical Competition Board, a speech contest in conjunction with Miami Dade County Public Schools exploring the Black Diaspora, and Co-Chaired the Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation Undergraduate Pathway’s Program to create clear and defined routes to earning student degrees.
In 2015, Kristen ran for the Miami Beach City Commission, donning a backpack, and walking the city, winning in a competitive runoff competition with 59% of the vote and 10% of her opponent’s resources, proving that money doesn’t always determine local municipal elections.
As a Commissioner of the City of Miami Beach, Kristen prides herself on being the “People’s Commissioner” and dedicates herself to fair government working for an equal playing field for all.
Kristen is a featured speaker for Ruth’s List, an organization whose mission is to elect democratic women across the State of Florida. She also spoke on climate change at the South Florida Women’s March in January 2017, and has spoken for other Democratic organizations, including Indivisible Miami, The Miami Dade Democratic Party and The Miami Dade Progressive Caucus.
Kristen is finishing the dissertation phase of her PhD in Leadership in Higher Education Administration at Barry University, where she is focusing her research on local workforce baccalaureate degrees conferred by community colleges. She hopes her current research will provide two-year colleges with best practices to roll out four-year workforce baccalaureate degrees so that students can graduate from college with minimal debt and find well-paying jobs in local economies.