Raul Yzaguirre

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Raul Yzaguirre
Raul H Yzaguirre ambassador.jpg
United States Ambassador to
the Dominican Republic
In office
November 17, 2010 – May 29, 2013
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Christopher Lambert (Chargé d'Affaires ad interim)
Succeeded by James "Wally" Brewster Jr.
Personal details
Born Raul Humberto Yzaguirre
(1939-07-22) July 22, 1939 (age 78)
San Juan, Texas, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Audrey Yzaguirre
Alma mater George Washington University
Profession Activist
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch Seal of the United States Department of the Air Force.svg United States Air Force
Years of service 1958–1962
Unit United States Air Force Medical Service (AFMS)

Raul Humberto Yzaguirre (born July 22, 1939) is an American civil rights activist. He is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He served as the president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza from 1974 to 2004 and as U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic from November 2010 to May 2013.

Early life[edit]

Yzaguirre was born to Mexican American parents Ruben Antonio and Eva Linda (Morin) Yzaguirre and grew up in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. Yzaguirre states that some of his first memories of social injustice involved what his grandmother called a "race war" in Texas. Mexican Americans lived under a curfew at that time and Yzaguirre's grandfather was almost lynched one night when coming home after dark from his second job.[1]

In 1958, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force Medical Service and served for four years.

He attended George Washington University.

His name has sometimes been spelled Izaguirre.[2]

National Council of La Raza[edit]

In 1968, the Southwest Council of La Raza was organized with funding from the Ford Foundation. By 1972, the organization had changed its name to the National Council for La Raza[3] and moved its offices to Washington, D.C. In 1997, the Ford Foundation, the NCLR's sole funding source, demanded a change in the organization's focus and direction by threatening to withhold funding and forced its president, Henry Santiestevan, out of office.

In 1974, Yzaguirre was elected the second president of the NCLR. The Ford Foundation was pleased with Yzaguirre and continued to be a top donor of the NCLR throughout his term.[4]

Under Yzaguirre, the organization grew from a regional advocacy group with 17 affiliates to over 300 that serve 41 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. Yzaguirre expanded membership criteria so it was not limited only to ethnic Mexicans, but also included Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Argentines, Cubans, Venezuelans and all other Hispanic subgroups. This paved the way for the National Council for La Raza to open offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Antonio, and San Juan.[5] Since then NCLR has added offices in New York and Atlanta.

Through his tenure Yzaguirre built the NCLR into a 35,000 members organization, with revenues exceeding $3 million, from a combination of contributions from American corporations,[6] philanthropic foundations, federal funding, and private member donations.

He was fired as chair of the Hispanic Advisory Commission to the Immigration and Naturalization Service for publicly criticizing President Carter’s immigration reform proposals. Yzaguirre also criticized President George H.W. Bush for his affirmative action stance even after he had agreed to be the first sitting president to appear at an NCLR Annual Conference. Yzaguirre criticized President Clinton for appointing very few Hispanics to key positions and for the 1996 welfare reform law which NCLR considered detrimental to the Hispanic community and resigned as chair of the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans in protest of political machinations.[7][8]

On November 30, 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Yzaguirre to be U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic. His appointment was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on September 29, 2010. His service in that post ended on May 29, 2013.

Council on Foreign Relations[edit]

Yzaguirre is a lifetime member and serves on the Member Selection Committee[9] of the David Rockefeller-headed Council on Foreign Relations.[10] and was a member of the Independent Task Force on North America.[11]

The Raul Yzaguirre Policy Institute[edit]

The Raul Yzaguirre Policy Institute operates out of the University of Texas-Pan American and was named after Yzaguirre. Its stated goal is,"To inform policy, and the civic leaders who frame it, for the benefit of the Hispanic community and the nation as a whole." The institute primarily receives corporate and government funding, continuing Yzaguirre's commitment to bringing corporate interests and government interests together. Its new facilities[12] were partially funded with a 2005 Department of Education earmark of $635,000.[13]

The advisory council of the institute represent a who's who of government and corporate elite, including politicians such as Hillary Clinton, John McCain, former President of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo whose role at the institute will be to provides expertise to the “global perspectives” area of work for the institute.[14] As well as corporate leaders of UPS, Coca-Cola and Frito-Lay.[15]

Position at Arizona State University[edit]

As part of Michael Crow's commitment to a "New American University" at Arizona State University, he appointed Yzaguirre to the position of presidential professor of practice in community development and civil rights at ASU.[16] One of the boards that he serves on at ASU is the North American Center of Transborder Studies (NACTS) which has a goal of advancing teaching and research on North American regional integration by providing a space for professionals in the university, policy and business communities to share information about the region and encourage instructors to incorporate North American content into their courses.[17]

The NACTS is a project of the Pan American Partnership for Business Education, the Council of the Americas, and the Kansas City International Affairs and Trade Office, which is part of North America’s SuperCorridor Coalition (NASCO).

Board memberships[edit]

Yzaguirre is a member of the boards of the Volunteers of America; United Way of America; and National Hispanic Leadership Agenda; .[18] Yzaguirre was a member of Sears, Roebuck’s & Co. and AARP Services Inc. In 1973, he was originally elected to Common Cause's National Governing Board. He was re-elected to the Common Cause Board in 1991.He resigned from his board position at the Salvation Army in protest of their homophobic positions.

Awards and honors[edit]

In 1979, Yzaguirre was the first Hispanic to receive a Rockefeller Public Service Award for Outstanding Public Service, endowed by John D. Rockefeller Jr. from the trustees of Princeton University.

Yzaguirre received the Order of the Aztec Eagle in 1993, the highest honor awarded by Mexico to citizens of another nation.[19]

The NCLR headquarters building in Washington, D.C., was named after him in 2005.


  1. ^ "Ready to rumble: civil rights heavyweight Raul Yzaguirre on life, the evolution of the NCLR, and giving Latinos a fighting chance - National Council of La Raza - Entrevista". Latino Leaders: The National Magazine of the Successful American Latino. 2001. 
  2. ^ Acuna, Rudolfo (1999). Occupied America: A History of Chicanos. Pearson Education. ISBN 0-321-04485-1. 
  3. ^ "National Council of La Raza – Question and Answer". National Council of La Raza: What does the term “La Raza” mean?. 
  4. ^ "Ready to Rumble and". HispanicBusiness.com. 
  5. ^ "Ready to Rumble". HispanicBusiness.com. 
  6. ^ "Corporate Partners Program". NCLR. Retrieved February 2007.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  7. ^ "Holding Firm to Principles". NCLR. Archived from the original on November 11, 2007. Retrieved November 7, 2007. 
  8. ^ "Controversy Swirls Around the Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans". The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education (August 12, 1998). Retrieved August 18, 2009. 
  9. ^ "Yzaguirre Bio on NACTS Board Member list". 
  10. ^ "List of 2001 CFR Members". Chester L McWhorter Sr. Retrieved 2001.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  11. ^ "Building a North American Community, Task Force Members". Council on Foreign Relations. Archived from the original on January 26, 2009. Retrieved 2007.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  12. ^ "Image of New Building". 
  13. ^ "White House list of Earmarks 2005 prepared by OMB". 
  14. ^ "Ernesto Zedillo's Bio at Yzaguirre.org". 
  15. ^ "List of Advisory Council Members at Yzaguirre.org". 
  16. ^ "Yzaguirre to strengthen ASU's national position in community development and civil rights". 
  17. ^ "Building North America". 
  18. ^ "Ready to Rumble". HispanicBusiness.com. 
  19. ^ "En honor de Don Raul". En honor de Don Raul. 1993. 

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Christopher Lambert as (Chargé d'Affaires ad interim)
United States Ambassador to the Dominican Republic
Succeeded by
James "Wally" Brewster Jr.