Antonio Fernandez is the former leader of the biggest street gang in the U.S, the Latin Kings. He transformed the gang into a political force for good, and has advised global governments on youth policy.
Antonio Fernandez is the former leader of the biggest street gang in the U.S, the Latin Kings.
Antonio left school at the age of 8 years old to deal drugs in Brooklyn NY, and by the age of 15 was earning $100,000+ a month.
After joining the Latin Kings, he grew their membership from 2,000 to 7,000 and changed the gang from a feared and notorious criminal organisation into a force for good; effectively rebranding them from the inside out.
Through creativity and innovation, Antonio convinced the notorious street gang to stop committing crime and to become a political force. Some examples of his changes include: inviting women into the group and changed their name to The Latin Kings and Queens (LK&Q), moving meetings from midnight gatherings in parks to the day time in churches, and educating the community through TED-style events with speakers at a time when this was unheard of.
To give the gang a new focus, Antonio found a political cause to get behind: mothers whose sons had been killed by police brutality. Antonio used the LK&Q reputation to mobilise the press and activate support for this community’s cause. LK&Q marched and three police officers eventually went to jail - which is quite a milestone considering not one policeman has been convicted during the current Black Lives Matter struggle.
In addition to LK&Q, Antonio founded the company “Grow Up Grow Out” to help women and men to leave the gang life. Each week he visits people who are in correctional facilities around the U.S to help with rehabilitation.
Antonio consults for governments around the wold (including Sweden, Spain and Ecuador) on their youth policies.
He has also given talks at ITV, Virgin, Festival of Media Miami, Advertising Award events in both Ireland and Latvia, and to an invite-only intimate group of CEOs in NYC (he’s been invited to speak there 3 times).
His story has appeared in a number of academic papers and the bestselling book, The Misfit Economy.
Using his life story as a cautionary tale, Antonio now gives talks to creatives, leaders, and innovators around the world on a variety of themes, including innovation, creativity, leadership, branding, how to influence people and how to generate grass roots change with no resources.
Antonio is a truly unique and memorable speaker. His story is inspiring, different, and brimming with anecdotes that audiences remember for years to come. His style is powerful, yet down-to-earth, and his expertise educates on crucial issues.