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Father Greg Boyle

Founder of Homeboy Industries and Best-Selling Author

As the founder and CEO of Homeboy Industries, Father Greg Boyle has dedicated his life to helping LA’s most marginalized individuals find a place in society’s ranks. He has become a beacon of hope around the world inspiring others with his work. In 2014, Father Greg was selected as one of the White House Champions of Change and in 2024, he was awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Joe Biden.

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In 1992, an abandoned warehouse was transformed into Homeboy Bakery, where former enemies bake bread side by side. Hands that once pointed guns now pressed and shaped dough, learning the mutual respect that comes from shared tasks and challenges. More social enterprises were added and by 2001, Homeboy Industries was an independent non-profit. Thousands of young people have since walked through the doors of Homeboy looking for a second chance and finding community, sanctuary, and family. In a word, kinship.

Gregory Boyle will share how in working with marginalized populations, love is the answer… community is the context… and tenderness connects us there. Tenderness is the connective tissue, the solidification of the notion that there are no us and them, only us.

In a nation deeply divided and plagued by poverty and violence, Boyle offers a snapshot into the challenges and joys of life on the margins. A moving example of unconditional love during difficult times, this keynote is guaranteed to shake up our ideas about God and about people. Boyle shares what three decades of working with gang members in Los Angeles has taught him about faith, compassion and the enduring power of kinship. He also invites us to find kinship with one another and re-convinces us all of our own goodness.

Biography

Fr. Gregory Boyle, best known as “Father Greg” by all who meet him, was born in Los Angeles. After graduating from Loyola High School in Los Angeles in 1972, he entered the order of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and was ordained a priest in 1984. Working as a Jesuit priest from 1986 to 1992, Fr. Greg served as pastor of Dolores Mission Church, which was then the poorest Catholic parish in Los Angeles with the highest concentration of local gang activity in the city.

Fr. Greg witnessed the devastating impact of gang violence on his community during the so-called “decade of death” that began in Los Angeles in the late 1980s and peaked at 1,000 gang-related killings in 1992. In the face of law enforcement tactics and criminal justice policies of suppression and mass incarceration as the means to end gang violence, Fr. Greg and parish and community members adopted what was a radical approach at the time: treat gang members as human beings.

In 1988 Fr. Greg started what would eventually become Homeboy Industries. To address the escalating problems and unmet needs of gang-involved youth, Fr. Greg and the community developed positive alternatives, including establishing an elementary school, a day care program, and finding legitimate employment for young people. Most importantly, the organization provided the opportunity for rival gang members to work side by side.

Homeboy Industries became official in 2001. Today, their nonprofit economic development enterprises include Homeboy Bakery, Homeboy Silkscreen, Homeboy Maintenance, Homeboy/HomegirlMerchandise, and HomegirlCafé. Fr. Greg is also a consultant to youth service and governmental agencies, policymakers and employers. The organization is now recognized as the largest gang intervention and re-entry program in the county and has become a national model.

As Executive Director of Homeboy Industries and an acknowledged expert on gangs and intervention approaches, Fr. Greg is a nationally renowned speaker. Fr. Greg and several “homies” were featured speakers at the White House Conference on Youth in 2005 at the personal invitation of Mrs. George Bush. In 1998, he was a member of the 10-person California delegation to President Clinton’s Summit on Children in Philadelphia.

Fr. Greg has received numerous honorary degrees, awards, and recognitions including the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Joe Biden in 2024.

Fr. Greg is the author of the New York Times best-seller Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion and the Los Angeles Times best-seller, Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship.

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