Pedro R. Garza: A Renaissance Man

Pedro R. Garza is a modern day Renaissance man who, as the Southwestern Region Director of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, has taken on the enormous task of transforming the economic landscape of a five-state region including Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 1.35.58 PMGarza uses the power of collaboration and proactive impact to change outcomes. His life, his journey, his gift is expressed through the synergy of empowerment and inspiration. Garza’s journey of a lifetime is a story of one man’s fulfillment of the American Dream not only for himself and his family, but also for thousands of Latinos throughout the nation.
Growing up in the tiny community of Santa Rosa in the Rio Grande Valley, Garza saw his mom do the washing for other people to make ends meet for her family.

Through hard work and diligent study, Garza, a former migrant worker, graduated summa cum laude (with highest honors) from Texas A&M University and earned his Master’s in Public Administration from the prestigious Ivy League Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

With a world-class education under his belt, Garza began a lifetime journey of public service that has resulted in the creation of tens of thousands of jobs for Latinos in diverse communities throughout America. Following college, Garza served his country as a Lieutenant in the United States Army, worked for the United Nations Development Program in New York and in the Office of the Secretary of Defense in Washington, DC.

His next big challenge was to serve as the National President of SER-Jobs for Progress, Inc. from 1979 to 1984. Garza wrote the original grant applications that laid the groundwork for two leading Latino organizations in the country: the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the American G.I. Forum’s National Veterans’ Outreach Program. As National President of SER, Garza signed a contract with the U.S. Department of Labor establishing the SER Alternative High School in Washington DC. That school today is known as the Bell Multicultural High School. Later in his career, Garza worked with the Ford Foundation on its Hispanic Leadership Opportunities Program, evaluating and making recommendations on programs operated by LULAC, MALDEF, ASPIRA, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. In the mid-eighties, Garza was the founder of the Ruiz Garza Review, a bi-weekly newsletter that focused on issues central to Latino communities across the country. In the mid-90s, Garza served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Commerce, under a great American, the late Secretary Ron Brown. Garza has been recognized by the International Economic Development Council as the recipient of the Leadership in Economic Development Programs Award. From guest editorials in publications such as: Vista Magazine, the Austin American Statesman, USA Today, the Houston Chronicle, and the Dallas Times Herald—to his administration of Latino national programs, to his investments in technology learning centers, minority serving institutions, and small business assistance centers, Garza has devoted a lifetime of effort to promoting and enhancing opportunities for Latino individuals, communities, organizations and educational institutions throughout the nation.

Garza makes us proud each time his name is linked with the Rio Grande Valley. He has accomplished great things in his career, yet he continually demonstrates that the Rio Grande Valley has a very special place in his heart; that sentiment is very much mutual. For a lifetime of achievement and for always making Rio Grande Valley residents who know of his wonderful deeds beam with pride and satisfaction, the Latino Education Magazine is proud to recognize Pedro R. Garza as a Living Legend.

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