Special to the NEWS
Pedro R. Garza of Austin has been announced as one of four recipients of the 2014 Freddy Fender Humanitarian Awards.
Garza became regional director of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) in January 1996 where he has spearheaded significant collaborative economic development initiatives across Texas and the southwest, leading to economic prosperity and job creation.
A former migrant farm worker from South Texas who graduated from Princeton University, Garza has never forgotten his roots. He is a leader who returned to Texas and worked diligently to invest in what is considered the most under-served and impoverished communities.
Much like Freddy Fender, Pedro Garza’s humanitarian contributions have spanned his entire career. Garza has served as Regional Director of the EDA Southwestern Region for almost 20 years.
As regional director, he oversees infrastructure development, capacity building and economic adjustment assistance in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
Earlier in his time in the EDA, Garza served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Program Operations in Washington, D.C.
Prior to joining the EDA, Garza was president of the Policy Research Group, a public policy consulting business in Austin concentrating on community development and competitiveness issues.
Garza also served as National President of SER-Jobs for Progress Inc. from 1979 to 1984.
He graduated from Texas A&M University, receiving a B.A. degree with the highest of honors. At Princeton University, Garza received his Master’s degree in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, focusing on economics and public policy. He served as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army; worked for the U.N. Development Program in New York, and in the Office of the Secretary of Defense in Washington, D.C.
His decades-long focus has been job creation, disaster recovery and economic development among the poorest communities.
Southwest Key recognized Garza as its first community hero on its Walk of Heroes honor.
He helped acquire several million dollars in investments to support turning land that was once a dumping ground into El Centro de Familia, a job-creating social enterprise complex that serves as the anchor institution for the East Austin Children’s Promise.
The 2014 Freddy Fender Humanitarian Awards was named after Baldemar Huerta of San Benito, also known as Freddy Fender – a rock and roll and country musician who found fame in the 1960s and 70s with the hits “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” and “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” as well as being a member of the Texas Tornados super group. Fender – also known for his humanitarianism – was a Grammy award-winner whose fame reached international heights, even landing him on television in an episode of Dukes of Hazzard.
The awards ceremony is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 9, at the Texas State Technical College Cultural Arts Center on 1902 North Loop 499 in Harlingen.