John “Gungie” Rivera is considered one of the finest “conductors” in the music and nightlife space. His journey began in the Castle Hill section of the Bronx while witnessing the way music always brought his family together.
Gungie, the first word that was ever uttered out of his mouth, became his moniker early on. The name also became synonymous with introducing various venues to the masses so they could enjoy new genres of music in hip-hop and freestyle.
John “Gungie” Rivera started his career as a DJ, introducing the world to the classics we enjoy today. His passion for music and bringing people together quickly led him to becoming one of the most sought-after nightclub promoters in New York City history.
Beginning his journey in the late 1980’s, Gungie would dominate the nightclub scene for three decades. That path would place him as the “Go-To” if you needed your record played, your band put on a stage, or wanted the best entertainment experience New York had to offer.
Gungie, never satisfied with complacency, transitioned over to becoming a well-respected Music Industry executive, producing hits and eventually landing his own recording label, “Prestigio”, under the Sony Discos umbrella. Gungie struck immediate gold as label CEO when his first artist introduced under the “Prestigio” title became the fastest selling independent artist in Sony Discos Distributed Label history to go Gold.
Gungie tied all of his contributions together when he formed Prestige Productions, which boasted industry-leading clients from television, radio, and Corporate America. Prestige Productions also became one of the largest concert promoters in the Latin and urban genres in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Japan.
Despite all the success and accolades that Gungie has achieved, his most rewarding achievement is to give back to the community and youth.
When the political world approached Gungie’s company to engage a younger demographic to vote and understand the issues that are impacting our youth, he leveraged the power of music and created “Salsa the Vote”. The campaign empowered our youth and involved them in decisions that affected their future. Gungie also organized marketing and fundraising campaigns for the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club, produced the annual galas for Promesa Foundation, and was part of a Latino division for the charitable organization LIFEBeat.
Out of his love for the arts and cultural engagement, Gungie has done work for the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater and co-produced plays for Teatro SEA, a bilingual non-profit organization founded in Puerto Rico that produces socially conscious and educational productions for children and young adults. Some of the company’s famous plays include The Roberto Clemente DC-7 playas well as La Gloria, a play honoring the life of Celia Cruz and other iconic Latin singers.
Bryan Vallejo is an instrumental member of the Cristian Rivera Foundation. Bryan attended the Borough of Manhattan Community College where he received his Associate’s in multimedia programming. He continued his education at the Institute of Pittsburgh for animation. Bryan has always had a passion for drawing and creating images so that they can come to life. One of his biggest accomplishments was the opportunity to illustrate “Cristian’s Journey” written by CRF Founder, John “Gungie” Rivera. Bryan is grateful for the potential that John saw in him, as well as his role in CRF.
Leslie Williams is a student of Political Science and Geography, as well as a lifelong writer. She lives in California with her sister, two cats, and a dog. She is deeply passionate about political issues, especially in regards to human rights and civil liberties. When she isn’t working on school, writing articles, or working on essays, Leslie enjoys reading and writing fiction.
Amanda M. Castro is a fourth-year journalism major with minors in English and political science at the University of New Haven in West Haven, CT. Originally from Puerto Rico and currently living in New York, Amanda is a well-rounded and focused writer with a desire to write and inform. After graduating in December, she hopes to continue working passionately in the field of journalism to inspire and help people around the world feel represented and informed. In her free time, Amanda writes, reads, and listens to music.
Billy Ketelhut is a graduate from Towson University with a Sport Management degree. He lives just outside of DC and enjoys watching or playing sports with friends and family. His favorite sports include soccer, basketball, football, and golf. When he is not doing anything sports related, Billy enjoys the outdoors and spending time with his dog.
Caroline Gose is from Columbus, Ohio. She will graduate from the University of Cincinnati in July 2021 with a BFA in Media Production and a Minor in Creative Writing. Caroline has a passion for social justice and women’s rights. She also enjoys writing poetry and short stories and hopes to write and direct a feature film one day. Caroline is looking forward to establishing herself in the film industry and continuing to write creatively and professionally.
Emily Alexander is a third year at the University of Virginia studying Foreign Affairs and Philosophy. Originally from Richmond, Virginia, Emily focused her studies on Leadership, Government, and Global Economics. She has a passion for marketing, graphic design, law, and community service. When she isn’t completing schoolwork during her college career, Emily volunteers at homeless shelters and with underprivileged kids in the Charlottesville community.
Katie O’Donnell is originally from Northern California and is a 2020 Graduate of the University of Northern Colorado, where she studied political science and journalism. She hopes to use her majors to improve the world by telling people’s stories and sharing common experience. She is immensely passionate about representation, human rights and environmental protection. Katie spends most of her time writing, reading and helping out at her family’s restaurant alongside her parents and siblings.
Madison Clark is from Southern California. She is originally from Connecticut but is currently a college student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Her major is business, but she hopes to move into a concentration of marketing, fashion design, and advertising. Madison has always enjoyed being a writer and learning all about the fashion industry. She also has a passion for writing book reviews, bringing awareness to various political issues, and being an advocate for the body positivity movement. She is excited to not only develop as a person but as a writer and student!