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Pete C. Garcia selected to receive Medal of Excellence

May 12, 2009

Pete C. Garcia, president of The Victoria Foundation and long-time advocate for the Valley Hispanic community, will receive the Arizona State University 2009 Medal of Excellence at the University Commencement today.

Garcia is being honored for his history of civic engagement and leadership within the many diverse communities of Arizona, particularly underserved populations. His efforts have resulted in many cost effective improvements in the quality of life and quality of place within Arizona.

The Victoria Foundation provides micro-grants to local organizations that improve the status of Latinos in Arizona through affordable housing, economic development, education and scholarships, international exchange and faith-based initiatives.

The University Medal of Excellence recognizes the local, regional or occasionally, national efforts and impact of individuals toward improving the quality of human understanding and civilization in areas that may or may not follow from the older tradition of the academy.
Medal of Excellence recipients are selected by the university president following nomination by members of the university community and review by an internal university committee.

Garcia received his bachelor’s degree in education from ASU in 1971 and worked as a reading teacher. He returned to school and received a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Southern California, then joined Chicanos Por La Causa as an economic development specialist.

Garcia later moved to Valle del Sol, a nonprofit agency providing drug prevention and rehabilitation programs and services, as president and chief executive officer. In 1984 Garcia returned to Chicanos Por La Causa as president and CEO.

Under Garcia’s leadership, CPLC became one of the nation’s largest community development corporations, providing programs and services in education, economic development, affordable housing, and social services.

Garcia grew up in the Marcos de Niza Projects in Phoenix, raised by a single mother who taught him the value of hard work and modeled empathy for others to him.

Those early days in the projects inspired him to a life work of public service, for which he has received numerous awards.

In 2005, Garcia was recognized by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation in Washington, D.C as one of 25 leaders throughout the nation for his contribution to community development and commitment to disadvantaged populations.

In 2007, he received the National Hispanic Heritage Hall of Fame Award for Leadership from the National Hispanic American Educational Fund and the Raul Yzaguirre Community Leadership Award from Valle del Sol.

Last year, Garcia was selected as one of 10 recipients of the AARP “Inspire Award.”
The University Medal of Excellence

The University Medal of Excellence is awarded as a high honor that reflects the University’s commitment to Excellence, Access and Impact generally and more specifically, to the integration of diverse fields of study and action in order to address issues of broad societal concern.
This medal acknowledges the central importance of contribution and leadership in the extension and application of knowledge, appreciation of diversity, and artistic expression of human experience within communities.

Garcia is the third recipient of the University Medal of Excellence. The first awardee was Jerry Bisgrove, chairman and chief executive officer of Stardust Cos. Last year’s recipients were Gregory and Emma Melikian, who were recognized for their commitment to international understanding, urban development, historic preservation, culture and the arts.