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Pedro A. Cortes

Pedro A. Cortés has served as Pennsylvania Secretary of State since 2003. He is the first Latino Cabinet member in Pennsylvania history.

Secretary Cortés administers the Department of State. The Department protects the public’s health, safety and welfare by licensing over 800,000 business, health and real estate professionals; maintaining registration and financial information for thousands of charities soliciting contributions from Pennsylvanians; overseeing Pennsylvania’s electoral process; maintaining corporate filings; and sanctioning professional boxing, wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts in the Commonwealth.

By statute, Secretary Cortés is 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. Secretary Cortés is also the Commonwealth’s Chief Election Official.

A lawyer by training, Secretary Cortés was the Senior Advisor for Latino Affairs to three Pennsylvania Governors. As the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania 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’s professional pursuits have also included work with the Pennsylvania State Civil Service Commission and the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare.

For years, Secretary 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.

Secretary Cortés has been the recipient of numerous awards, including: Hispanic Business Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Hispanics in the United States; the National Notary Association’s 50 Most Influential People in Notarization in the Last 50 Years and March Fong Eu Achievement Award; Multicultural Affairs Congress’ Delaware Valley’s Most Influential Latino; American Lawyer Media Lawyer on the Fast Track; Central Penn Business Journal’s top Forty Under 40 business leaders in Central Pennsylvania; and The Pennsylvania State University Alumni Fellow, the most prestigious award given by the Penn State Alumni Association.

In 2004, Secretary 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.

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

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

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