Spring 2011 Commencement Speaker
Ms. Judith A. Canales, M.A., M.P.A.
United States Department of Agriculture
Judith A. Canales has over twenty years of experience working at the national and local levels in federal and local government administration and nonprofit management. Her expertise involves rural and urban development, housing, community development and economic development. She is also experienced in U.S. - Mexico border public policy issues and development.
In May 2009, Ms. Canales received her second presidential appointment when President Barack Obama named her as the first Hispanic woman to serve as the Administrator for Rural Business and Cooperative Programs in the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development. She is responsible for overseeing the national rural business and cooperative programs portfolio for USDA. Rural Business and Cooperative Programs promote a dynamic business environment in rural America by working in partnership with the private sector, public bodies and community-based organizations.
Ms. Canales was previously the Executive Director for the Maverick County Development Corporation facilitating economic development for Eagle Pass and Maverick County, Texas.
In addition, Ms. Canales was an adjunct faculty professor for Southwest Texas Junior College where she taught U.S. and Texas Government. She was also a consultant specializing in government relations, grant writing, and leadership training for nonprofit organizations.
Ms. Canales was the first Executive Director of the International Hispanic Network, an organization of city managers and professionals. She was the Director of Human Resources for the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino, Special Projects Director for Sul Ross State University- Rio Grande College and served as the Assistant City Manager for the City of Eagle Pass.
Ms. Canales was appointed by President Bill Clinton as the Acting Associate Administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Business-Cooperative Service in Washington, D.C. She served as the Deputy State Director for the USDA Rural Development Texas Office. The Texas State Office administers the rural housing, utilities, business, and community development programs.
Ms. Canales was appointed as the Legislative Officer for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Legislation in Washington, D.C. She served as Legislative Representative in the Washington, D.C. office of New York City Mayor David N. Dinkins. She worked for the Low Income Housing Information Service and the National Council of La Raza. She co-authored the NCLR policy report, “The Hispanic Housing Crisis.”
Ms. Canales is the past national president of MANA, a national Latina organization. She is a graduate of the National Hispana Leadership Institute, and is a recipient of the “Woman of Distinction” award from the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders.
Ms. Canales is a graduate of Leadership Texas Class of 2001. She was a board member of the Middle Rio Grande Workforce Board, the Eagle Pass Library Board, and the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas. She is a lifetime member of Girls Scouts and is a member of the Eagle Pass Rotary Club and the Harvard Club of San Antonio.
Ms. Canales received a Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government. She was elected Mid-Career Representative to the Kennedy School Student Government. She is the recipient of the Esteban E. Torres National Council of La Raza-Harvard Mid-Career fellowship. She served on the Kennedy School Alumni Executive Council.
In 2010, Hispanic Business Magazine honored Ms. Canales as one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics in the United States.
Ms. Canales received a Master of Arts in Urban Studies from Trinity University in San Antonio, a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin and an Associate of Arts degree from Southwest Texas Junior College. She is a native of Uvalde, Texas and has most recently lived in Eagle Pass, Texas.
To read Ms. Judith A. Canales's speech, click here.