Pedro Cortés

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Pedro Cortés
Cortes Self Photo 2008.jpg
Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
In office
January 20, 2015 – October 11, 2017
GovernorTom Wolf
Preceded byCarol Aichele
Succeeded byRobert Torres (Acting)
In office
April 2, 2003 – June 10, 2010
GovernorEd Rendell
Preceded byMichael Weaver
Succeeded byBasil Merenda
Personal details
Born (1966-05-28) May 28, 1966 (age 52)
Carolina, Puerto Rico, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Lissette Lizardi
Children1 daughter
EducationUniversity of Massachusetts,
Pennsylvania State University,
Pennsylvania State University,

Pedro A. Cortés (born May 28, 1966) twice served as Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (April 2003 - June 2010 & January 2015 - October 2017). He was the first confirmed Latino Cabinet member and the longest serving Secretary of State in Pennsylvania history.[1] Cortés was also the first Puerto Rican Secretary of State in the United States, outside of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Education and training[edit]

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

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

Public service[edit]

A lawyer by training, Cortés was the Senior Advisor for Latino Affairs to two 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.

In December 2009 Cortés was elected 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.

Cortés was nominated Pennsylvania Secretary of State by Governor Tom Wolf on January 20, 2015 and confirmed by the Senate on June 2, 2015.[2] He previously served as Secretary of the Commonwealth from 2003 to 2010. At that time Cortés was the first confirmed Latino Cabinet member and longest serving Secretary of State in Pennsylvania history.

Personal life[edit]

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]

  • 2018 100 Pennsylvania's Most Influential Latino Leaders, Latino Connection (Harrisburg, PA)
  • 2017 Delaware Valley’s Most Influential Latino, Most Influential Latinos Foundation (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 2017 Hispanic Lifetime Achievement Award, Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce (Bethlehem, PA)
  • 2017 Best of the Best Humanitarian Award, Latino Connection (Harrisburg, PA)
  • 2017 Shaping the Bright Future of America Award, Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs (Harrisburg, PA)
  • 2017 Civic and Public Service Award, Martin Luther King, Jr. Salute to Greatness (Flourtown, PA)
  • 2016 Delaware Valley’s Most Influential Latino, Most Influential Latinos Foundation (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 2016 Champion of Government, AL DÍA News Media (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 2016 Torch of Global Enlightenment Award, The World Affairs Council of Harrisburg (Harrisburg, PA)
  • 2015 Delaware Valley’s Most Influential Latino, Most Influential Latinos Foundation (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 2015 Luna Award, Latino Hispanic American Community Center (Harrisburg, PA)
  • 2015 Diverse Attorney of the Year, The Legal Intelligencer (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 2014 The Arturo Schomburg Living the Dream Award, D.R.E.A.M.S (Lancaster, PA)
  • 2013 Public Service Commendation, Reading City Council (Reading, PA)
  • 2013 Leadership Award, El Palo Magazine (Lancaster, PA)
  • 2013 Los Favoritos del Pueblo/The Peoples Favorties Award (Allentown,PA)
  • 2012 Amigo Award, Centro Hispano Daniel Torres (Reading, PA)
  • 2010 150 Living Legacies, SusqueCentennial Commission (Harrisburg, PA)
  • 2010 Honorary Doctorate Degree in Law, Widener University School of Law (Harrisburg, PA)
  • 2009 Delaware Valley’s Most Influential Latino, Most Influential Latinos Foundation (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 2009 Honorary Doctorate Degree in Public Service, Harcum College (Bryn Mawr, PA)
  • 2009 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, Most Influential Latinos Foundation (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, Most Influential Latinos Foundation (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, National Notary Association (Los Angeles, CA)
  • 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, Most Influential Latinos Foundation (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, Penn State Abington (Abington, PA)
  • 2006 Public Policy Fellow, Franklin and Marshall College (Lancaster, PA)
  • 2005 Pennsylvania State University Alumni Fellow, 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, Council of State Governments (Lexington, KY)
  • 2004 Pan American Day Recognition, The Pan American Association of Philadelphia (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 2003 Forty Under 40 Business Leaders, Central Penn Business Journal (Harrisburg, PA)
  • 2003 Lawyers on the Fast Track, American Lawyer Media (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 2003 100 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)


Media related to Pedro Cortés at Wikimedia Commons

  1. ^ Cortes, Pedro. "Personal Biography".
  2. ^ Field, Nick (3 June 2015). "PA-Gov: Wolf Celebrates Cabinet Confirmations". PoliticsPA. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
Political offices
Preceded by
Michael Weaver
Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Basil Merenda
Preceded by
Carol Aichele
Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Robert Torres