Pedro A. Cortés

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Pedro A. Cortés
Pedro Cortés.jpg
Pennsylvania Secretary of State
In office
Prior offices
Pennsylvania Secretary of State
Bachelor'sUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst
Master'sPenn State University
J.D.Penn State University
Office website
Pedro A. Cortés (born on May 28, 1966 in Carolina, Puerto Rico) is the current acting Democratic Pennsylvania Secretary of State. Cortés was nominated as secretary of state by Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Wolf on January 20, 2015, and is awaiting confirmation from the Senate. Cortés previously served as secretary under governor Ed Rendell from 2003 to 2010.[1]


Cortés was the first Latino confirmed to a governor's cabinet in Pennsylvania. He was also the first Puerto Rican secretary of state in the United States, outside of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. He resigned during his previous tenure as secretary of state on June 11, 2010, in order to become executive vice president of "Everyone Counts," a company that specializes in military and overseas voting technology.[2]


  • Juris Doctorate degree, Penn State University - Dickinson School of Law (1999)
  • Master's Degree, public administration, Penn State University (2000)
  • Bachelor's degree, hotel, restaurant, and travel administration, University of Massachusetts Amherst (1989)
  • Certificate, Penn State University (2000) in public sector human resources management
  • Doctorate Degree honoris causa, King's College (2008)
  • Doctorate Degree honoris causa, Harcum College (2009)

Political career

Prior to being appointed Secretary of the Commonwealth, Cortes served as executive director of the Governor of Pennsylvania’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs for three years beginning in March 2000. In this role, he made recommendations to the governor and the administration on policies, procedures and legislation that enhanced the status of the Latino community in Pennsylvania. As the governor's liaison to the Latino community, he ensured that state government was accessible, accountable and responsive to the needs of Latinos and that strategies and programs were developed to enhance the community's social and economic status. He has also played active roles in the State Civil Service Commission, which develops and administers job specific tests and creates listings of qualified candidates for agencies to use in hiring candidates into civil service covered positions, and the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare.[1][2]

Other roles

  • Executive Director, Governor's Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs
  • Inter-Agency Taskforce on Civil Tension
  • Minority Confinement Subcommittee
  • Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency's Disproportionate
  • Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare
  • Pennsylvania State Civil Service Commission
  • Pennsylvania Supreme Court Committee on Racial and Gender Bias in the Judicial System


Cortés currently resides in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with his wife, Lissett Lizardi-Cortés, and their daughter, Gabriela.


State executive officials
State legislatures
  • Leadership Award from Harrisburg Area Community College (2002)
  • The Mayor’s Award for Distinguished Community Service - City of Harrisburg (2003)
  • Latino Leadership Award from the Puerto Rican Cultural Alliance (2003)
  • Elected 2004 Class Representative of Toll Fellowship Program sponsored by the Council of State Governments
  • Citizen of the Year Award, Philadelphia Puerto Rican Festival (2004)
  • Latin American Cultural Union Award (2004)
  • Alumni Achievement Award from Penn State University (2004)
  • Pride Award – Public Service Category from the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs (2004)
  • Rev. William Howard Day Leadership Award from the Wesley Union Community Development Corporation (2005)
  • Pennsylvania State University Alumni Fellow Award (2005)
  • Public Policy Fellow from Franklin and Marshall College (2006)
  • 2006 Center for Intercultural Leadership and Communication Award from Penn State Abington
  • PHRC’s 50th Anniversary Outstanding Public Service in Promoting Equal Opportunity Award (2006)
  • Outstanding Community Service Award from the Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania Legal Education Fund (2006)
  • Cornelius Award from the Arms Around Harrisburg – Day Spring Ministries (2006)
  • Siembra Award from Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (2007)
  • March Fong Eu Achievement Award from the National Notary Association (2007)
  • Delaware Valley’s Mover & Shaker Award from the Philadelphia Multicultural Affairs Congress (2007)
  • Excellence in Civic Engagement Award from the PA Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (2008)
  • Siempre Boricua Award from the National Puerto Rican Coalition (2008)
  • Philip J. McConnaughay Outstanding Achievement Award from the Dickinson School of Law of The Pennsylvania State University (2009)
  • Delaware Valley's Most Influential Latino Award from the Philadelphia Multicultural Affairs Congress (2009)

Recent news

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Political offices
Preceded by
Carol Aichele
Pennsylvania Secretary of State
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
C. Michael Weaver
Pennsylvania Secretary of State
Succeeded by
Basil L. Merenda