Pedro Cortés

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Pedro A. Cortés
Cortés following his election as 2008-2009 NASS President
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[edit]

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 Toll Fellowship Program sponsored by The Council of State Governments. His peers elected him 2004 Class Representative.

Public service[edit]

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 Governor's Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, he made recommendations to the Governors and their administrations on policies, procedures and legislation that enhanced the status of the Latino community in Pennsylvania. As the Governor's liaison to the Latino community, he ensured that state government was accessible, accountable and responsive to the needs of Latinos and that strategies and programs were developed to enhance the community's social and economic status. Secretary Cortés’ professional pursuits have also included work with the State Civil Service Commission and 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[edit]

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[edit]


Media related to Pedro Cortés at Wikimedia Commons