Getting Things Done
While many consider Washington a synonym for gridlock, Julián Castro has bucked this label from the moment he entered public service. As Mayor of the second-largest city in Texas, he revitalized San Antonio’s most neglected neighborhoods, attracted $350 million in private sector downtown investment that sparked the creation of thousands of new housing units. He also increased opportunities for education, expanding Pre-K funding and programs offering college guidance to San Antonio-area students.
As Secretary of HUD, Castro oversaw 8000 employees and a $46 billion budget using a performance-driven approach. Among the many accomplishments under Castro’s leadership, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) lowered mortgage insurance costs, helping millions of Americans to buy their first home. HUD also closed the digital divide by launching ConnectHome, which provides internet access and digital literacy training to families living in HUD-assisted housing, giving over 1 million children access to things like online college applications and the tools they need to compete in this 21st century global economy. Veteran homelessness decreased by more than 20 percent during his tenure, and chronic and family homelessness declined as well.
Castro also implemented the groundbreaking $1 billion public-private initiative National Disaster Resilience Competition, which ensures that the 13 states vulnerable to extreme weather events will be better prepared. These, and the many other programs pursued under Castro’s leadership, earned HUD the “Most Improved Mid-Sized Agency” Award in the 2015 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings.
From everything from access to education and technology to the creation of safe and affordable housing, Castro has been at the forefront of some of the most innovative partnerships, programs and achievements in the public sector. His experience and insight into what IS possible is relevant for any group, public or private, large or small, established or startup.
Activism and Public Service
At a time in our history when cynicism is easy to find, Julian Castro stands as an example of what can be accomplished with passion and dedication. Castro’s grandmother arrived in the U.S. an orphan immigrant from Mexico with only a fourth grade education. She was determined that her daughter, Rosie, would have a better life. She worked multiple jobs to provide for her, and Rosie became a vocal community activist. She ran for city council and even worked on other progressives’ political campaigns. Her determination and passion for improving the lives of others inspired her twin sons to do the same. Julian and his twin brother graduated from Stanford University and then went on to earn law degrees from Harvard Law School. Joaquin is currently a member of Congress and Julian went from city council member to Mayor to Cabinet Member of President Barack Obama’s administration.
When things can seem at their most bleak, it’s time for those who want change to stand up. But how to engage…and WHY engage? Can one person make a difference? What about a group? A movement? Castro’s own personal story is not only proof that the American Dream still lives, but he shows that there is still much to be done to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to fulfill their potential.
Following Your Passion: Lessons for the Next Generation
Born to unmarried parents in a poverty-stricken neighborhood, Castro’s prospects of escaping his circumstance seemed bleak to the outside world. However, as he learned from his activist mother about making a difference, Castro stopped at nothing to pursue his passion for making the world a place where anyone – regardless of race, nationality, income or gender – could reach their full potential. Truly affirming the American Dream, Castro went on to attend Stanford University and Harvard Law School before entering politics at the young age of 26. In empowering conversations, Castro inspires young adults and students to not only overcome the obstacles they face, but to use them as a source of knowledge and motivation to follow their dreams. Based on his personal experience, Castro explains how anyone in any circumstance can pursue their passions in order to change not only their own lives, but their community, country, and world for the better.
Julián Castro has distinguished himself as a strong leader and successful public servant for nearly two decades. A former Democratic candidate for President, Castro served as the 16th Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama from 2014 to 2017, and as mayor of San Antonio from 2009 to 2014. At HUD, Castro managed 8,000 employees and a budget of more than $46 billion, and he led progress at the Department that earned it recognition as one of the most improved federal agencies. Castro also co-chaired the United States delegation to the United Nations Habitat III conference, spearheaded efforts to reduce homelessness, and created Connect Home, a public-private partnership to deliver broadband to public housing residents.
Previously, as mayor of America’s seventh largest city, Castro brought a strong focus to expanding educational achievement and making San Antonio a leader in the 21st century global economy. Under Castro’s leadership, San Antonio implemented Pre-K4SA, a high quality early childhood learning initiative that has earned praise as one of America’s strongest public pre-kindergarten programs. During his tenure, San Antonio ranked first on the Milken Institute’s Best Performing Cities List, received an A+ grade for doing business by Forbes, and was the only Top 10 city at the time to achieve a Triple A bond rating with each of the three major ratings agencies.
A native Texan, Castro began his public service career in 2001, becoming, at the age of 26, San Antonio’s youngest city councilman in history at the time. Castro made history again in 2012, when he delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, the first Latino to do so.
Following his service in the Obama administration, Castro served as the Dean’s Distinguished Fellow and Fellow of the Davila Chair in International Trade Policy at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. Castro’s memoir, An Unlikely Journey: Waking Up From My American Dream was published by Little Brown in 2018.
Today, Castro serves on the board of directors of the LBJ Foundation.
Castro received a B.A. from Stanford University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He and his wife, Erica, have a daughter, Carina, and a son, Cristián. Castro’s twin brother, Joaquin, represents the 20th Congressional District of Texas.