HARRISBURG, Pa., May 18, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Secretary of State Pedro A. Cortés is a recipient of the Torch of Global Enlightenment Award for 2016, awarded by the World Affairs Council of Harrisburg.
Secretary Cortés, who is in his second tenure as Secretary of State, received the award Tuesday, May 17, at the annual awards ceremony held at Widener University School of Law in Harrisburg.
"Secretary Cortés has earned the admiration and respect of our board and associates for his spirit of humility and public service," said Joyce Davis, president and chief executive officer of the World Affairs Council of Harrisburg. "In both his public and private roles, Secretary Cortés epitomizes the highest values of global understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures, faiths, languages and lands."
The Torch of Global Enlightenment Award honors the achievements of individuals, organizations and educators who exemplify the ideals of inclusiveness, respect for diversity, multiculturalism and interfaith dialogue.
"I am honored to receive the Torch award from the World Affairs Council," Secretary Cortés said. "I firmly believe that our city, our state, our nation and our world become better places when we respect and embrace diversity. By doing so, we harness the human potential for the benefit of all."
Other 2016 recipients of the Torch award are: Ho-Thanh Nguyen, president of the Pennsylvania Immigrant and Refugee Women's Network (PAIRWN); Yolanda Perez, co-founder of Latino Hispanic Professional Organization; Dr. Wayne Selcher, retired professor at Elizabethtown College; and Ann Van Dyke, retired member of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. Organizations honored are: Harsco, the Mayor's Interfaith Advisory Council, Mission Central, and the YWCA of Greater Harrisburg.
Also, receiving WAC Harrisburg's first Torch Educator awards were Jamie Kinsley, Kelly O'Brien and Tom Sites, a team of elementary teachers at Milton Hershey School.
Secretary Cortés received his second appointment as Secretary of State from Governor Tom Wolf in 2015. He previously served in the post from 2003 to 2010. In his first tenure, Secretary Cortés was the first confirmed Latino Cabinet member in the Commonwealth and became the longest-serving Secretary of State in Pennsylvania history.
He was also the first Pennsylvanian to serve as President of the National Association of Secretaries of State in the Association's 104-year history.
Cortés began his Commonwealth government career in 1993 as a caseworker with the Department of Public Welfare. Subsequently, he worked as a recruiter and attorney with the State Civil Service Commission and was the Executive Director of the Governor's Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs for two Pennsylvania governors. Prior to his most recent appointment as Secretary of State, Cortés was a partner with the law firm of Haggerty, Goldberg, Schleifer and Kupersmith.
The Secretary has been the recipient of numerous awards, including: Hispanic Business Magazine's 100 Most Influential Hispanics in the United States; Multicultural Affairs Congress' Delaware Valley's Most Influential Latino; Legal Intelligencer's Diverse Attorney of the Year; and The Pennsylvania State University Alumni Fellow.
Cortés earned a Bachelor of Science in Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Administration from the University of Massachusetts, a Master of Public Administration from Penn State University, and a Juris Doctor from Penn State Dickinson School of Law.
The World Affairs Council of Harrisburg is affiliated with the World Affairs Councils of America based in Washington, DC. It is part of a national network of influential councils dedicated to educating and engaging the residents of our region in global issues. WAC associates meet and interact with leading international writers, intellectuals, diplomats and political leaders, and are dedicated to making those opportunities available to youth in the region.
The Council in Harrisburg was founded in 2010 with support from several founding institutions: Widener University School of Law, Temple University Harrisburg, The World Culture Club of Central PA, Harsco, Elizabethtown College, Harrisburg University, International House, Keystone Human Services and Messiah College.
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of State