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Pedro Cortés

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Pedro Cortés

Pedro A. Cortés
Pennsylvania Secretary of State
In office
April 2, 2003 – June 11, 2010
Governor Ed Rendell
Preceded by Michael Weaver
Succeeded by Basil Merenda
Personal details
Born (1966-05-28) May 28, 1966 (age 48)
Carolina, Puerto Rico
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lissette Lizardi-Cortés
Children Gabriela Paola Cortés (b. 2000)

Pedro A. Cortés (born on May 28, 1966 in Carolina, Puerto Rico) is the former Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.[1]

Education and Training

Secretary Cortés earned his Bachelor of Science in Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a Master in Public Administration from Penn State University, and a Law Degree from The Pennsylvania State University — Dickinson School of Law. He also holds a certificate in Public Sector Human Resources Management from The Pennsylvania State University and Doctorate Degrees honoris causa from King's College and Harcum College.

In 2004, Cortés was one of 40 state leaders from across the country selected to participate in the renowned The Council of State Governments. His peers elected him 2004 Class Representative.

Public service

Cortés served as Pennsylvania Secretary of State from April 2, 2003 until June 11, 2010. He was the first confirmed Latino Cabinet member and the longest serving Secretary of State in Pennsylvania history.

A lawyer by training, Cortés was the Senior Advisor for Latino Affairs to three Pennsylvania Governors. As the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare.


For years, Cortés has participated in numerous community and government-related organizations, including the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS). NASS is the oldest national nonpartisan professional organization of public officials in the United States. From July 2008 to July 2009, Secretary Cortés fulfilled the role of NASS President, making him the first Pennsylvania Secretary of State to enjoy that distinction in the organization’s 104-year history. Under his leadership, the association strengthened cooperative relationships between the states and actively engaged the White House, Congress and federal agencies. During the same period, NASS developed effective public policies in the areas of elections administration, voter participation, business services, securities, international relations and state heritage. As Immediate Past President of NASS, Secretary Cortés continues to work with his colleagues from across the nation to lead the organization to greater heights on behalf of its member states.

By statute, Cortés was the Chairperson of the Navigation Commission for the Delaware River and its Navigable Tributaries, Chairperson of the Board of Property, and a member of the Board of Finance and Revenue, the Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement Board and the State Athletic Commission. The Secretary is the keeper of the Great Seal of the Commonwealth and has the duty of authenticating government documents through the seal's use. Cortés was also the Commonwealth's Chief Election Official.

In December 2009, Cortés was elected as the Chair of the Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission for Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness. Formed in 2005 at the recommendation of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court with the concurrence of the governor and legislative leaders, the Commission's purpose is to ensure that people of every race, gender and ethnic background are treated fairly and respectfully throughout all offices of state government.

Personal life

Cortés is the first Puerto Rican Secretary of State in the United States, outside of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

A native of Carolina, Puerto Rico, Cortés has lived in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania since 1990. He is married to Lissette Lizardi-Cortés and they have a daughter, Gabriela.

Awards and recognition

  • 2010 Honorary Doctorate Degree in Law, Widener University School of Law (Harrisburg, PA).
  • 2009 Delaware Valley’s Most Influential Latino, December 2009, Philadelphia Multicultural Affairs Congress (Philadelphia, PA).
  • 2009 Honorary Doctorate Degree in Public Service, Harcum College (Bryn Mawr, PA).
  • Philip J. McConnaughay Outstanding Achievement Award, April 2009, The Dickinson School of Law of The Pennsylvania State University (Carlisle, PA).
  • 2009 Pennsylvania Report 100, The Pennsylvania Report (Harrisburg, PA).
  • 2008 Delaware Valley’s Most Influential Latino, December 2008, Philadelphia Multicultural Affairs Congress (Philadelphia, PA).
  • 2008 El Award, November 2008, El Diario La Prensa (New York, NY).
  • 2008 Siempre Boricua Award, National Puerto Rican Coalition (Washington, DC).
  • 2008 Excellence in Civic Engagement Award, June 2008, PA Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (Philadelphia, PA).
  • 2008 Honorary Doctorate Degree in Humanities, King’s College (Wilkes-Barre, PA).
  • 2007 Delaware Valley’s Mover & Shaker Award, December 2007, Philadelphia Multicultural Affairs Congress (Philadelphia, PA).
  • 2007 March Fong Eu Achievement Award, National Notary Association (Los Angeles, CA).
  • 2007 The 50 Most Influential People in Notarization in the Last 50 Years, .
  • 2007 Siembra Award, Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • 2006 Cornelius Award, December 2006, Arms Around Harrisburg – Day Spring Ministries (Middletown, PA).
  • 2006 Delaware Valley’s Most Influential Latino, December 2006, Philadelphia Multicultural Affairs Congress (Philadelphia, PA).
  • 2006 Outstanding Community Service Award, Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania Legal Education Fund (Philadelphia, PA).
  • 2006 PHRC’s 50th Anniversary Outstanding Public Service in Promoting Equal Opportunity Award, Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission(Harrisburg, PA).
  • 2006 Center for Intercultural Leadership and Communication Award, March 2006, Penn State Abington (Abington, PA).
  • 2006 Public Policy Fellow, Franklin and Marshall College (Lancaster, PA).
  • 2005 award, the most prestigious award given by the Penn State Alumni Association of The Pennsylvania State University (State College, PA).
  • 2005 Rev. William Howard Day Leadership Award, Wesley Union Community Development Corporation (Harrisburg, PA).
  • 2004 Pride Award – Public Service Category, Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs (Harrisburg, PA).
  • 2004 Alumni Achievement Award, Penn State Harrisburg (Middletown, PA).
  • 2004 Latin American Cultural Union Award, Latin American Cultural Union (Pittsburgh, PA).
  • 2004 Citizen of the Year Award, Puerto Rican Festival (Philadelphia, PA).
  • 2004 Class Representative of the renowned Toll Fellowship Program sponsored by the Council of State Governments.
  • 2004 Pan American Day Recognition, The Pan American Association of Philadelphia.
  • 2003 Forty Under 40 Business Leaders, Central Penn Business Journal (Harrisburg, PA).
  • 2003 Lawyers on the Fast Track, American Lawyer Media (Philadelphia, PA).
  • 2003 One Hundred Most Influential Latinos in the United States, Hispanic Business Magazine (Santa Barbara, CA).
  • 2003 Latino Leadership Award, Puerto Rican Cultural Alliance (Allentown, PA).
  • 2003 Mayor’s Award for Distinguished Community Service, City of Harrisburg, Mayor Stephen R. Reed (Harrisburg, PA).
  • 2002 Leadership Award, Harrisburg Area Community College (Harrisburg, PA).

References

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