Henry G. Cisneros was born on July 11, 1947 in San Antonio. He graduated from Texas A&M with a bachelors of arts and a masters of arts degree in Urban and Regional Planning. He also earned a Masters degree in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and a Ph.D. in Public Administration from George Washington University.

After serving two years in the United States army in 1968, he began his career in public service by working as an administrative assistant in the San Antonio City Managers office, working as an assistant to the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. Beginning in 1974, he taught public policy at the University of Texas-San Antonio. In 1975, Henry was elected to the San Antonio City Council. As a council member, he emphasized the economic development and cooperation between the citys Hispanic and White residents.

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He served on the City council until 1981, when he was elected to be the Mayor of San Antonio, which is the nations 10th largest city, thus, becoming the first Hispanic mayor of a major U.S. city. During the time Cisneros was Mayor from 1981 until 1989, he rebuilt the citys economic stability by increasing tourism and creating jobs in downtown San Antonio, recruiting convention business, attracting high tech industries, and expanding housing opportunities. In 1985, he was elected president of the National League of Cities. And, in 1989, he became chairman of his newly organized Cisneros Asset Management Company, which was a financial management firm for tax-exempt institutions. During this time, he received two awards: the first was in 1982, when he was selected as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of America. The second was four years later in 1986, when City and State Magazine named him Outstanding Mayor. In addition to these two awards, he was awarded with Vista Magazines Hispanic Man of the Year Honor in 1991.
For three years after leaving his job as Mayor, Henry hosted Texans, which is a one hour television show that is produced quarterly in Texas, and Adelante, which is a national daily Spanish-language radio commentary. On December 17, 1992, President Bill Clinton appointed him to serve as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The United States Senate unanimously confirmed him on January 21, 1993. As the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Cisneros is responsible for administering fair housing activities as well as federally assisted housing and economic development programs throughout the nation. He named homelessness as one of his top priorities and expressed reservations about selling public housing to low income tenants, which is one of the Bush administrations cornerstone housing policies.
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