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 Hector de Leon
 Director of Communications and Voter Outreach
 Office of Stan Stanart
 Harris County Clerk
 1001 Preston, 4th Floor
 Houston, Tx 77002

 713.274.9550 - office
 713.755.9311 - fax
 713.539.0114 - cell




The FAMILY ORIGINS

Héctor de León, the seventh in a family of ten children, was born in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México. His father, José Guadalupe de León was born in Matehuala, San Luis Potosí and raised in a small village in Southern Nuevo León, near Doctor Arroyo, a municipality at the foot of the arid western side of the Sierra Madre. His paternal grandfather; Juan, was self educated; Renowned as thinker, he was a respected member of his village. Juan died before Hector or his siblings were born.

Héctor's mother; Feliciana Garcia, grew up in Doctor Arroyo. Feliciana’s father Valentin ; an orphan, was forced to serve in the federal army during the late stages of the Mexican Revolution at the age of 14.  As an adult, he went on to be a teacher and a leader among his peers. Héctor’s maternal grandfather died when his mother was barely a teen. The eldest of the family and a good student, she began training to be a rural teacher to help support her siblings.  She spent 20 years teaching before coming to the United States.  It was in Doctor Arroyo that Héctor’s parents met.


    THE FORMATIVE YEARS


    Héctor’s father first came to North America to work in the agricultural sector (e.g. cotton-fields) of Texas via the Bracero Program, a temporary contract labor initiative between México and the U.S. After the program ended, his commitment to provide a better life for his family convinced him to stay in Texas. He worked as a ranch hand around Brenham, Chapel Hill and Bellville. He visited Mexico during the holidays. Eventually, he legalized and united the family in 1972.

    While his father lived on the ‘other side’, United States, Héctor grew up with his mother in rural Mexico where she was an elementary school teacher. The family resided on the school grounds in a small room adjacent to the school building. One side of the room served as the sleeping quarters and the other had an open fireplace which served as the kitchen area. Like most folks in the village, they did not have gas, plumbing or electricity. They did not have much but they had more than most because of his mother’s profession.

    An enduring memory of Héctor’s childhood in rural Mexico is visiting his neighbors and friends on a Christmas morning to show off the toy Santa had brought him. He found his friends eating. Their breakfast consisted of dunking tortillas in a tin cup filled with goat’s milk which was shared by the four family members. For his friends, there were no toys; there were only the barest of necessities to appease their hunger. The experience taught Héctor to always be generous with his fellow human beings. More importantly, it taught him that the origins of equality begin in having a government that affords willing individuals the opportunity to work and provide for their children.


    THE AMERICAN EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE


    Héctor’s family arrived in Houston on a snowy day in 1973. His family rented a house on Gillen St. in the Golfcrest subdivision near Gulfgate. Héctor has lived on the same street ever since. Héctor was placed in the 4th grade. As child, he was sensitive and shy. His awkwardness was exacerbated by the fact that he could not communicate in English. Héctor attended Cornelius Elementary, Hartman Middle School and Jesse Jones High School.  In high school, he was the only non-African American in most of his classes.

    As an adult, Héctor conceded that his limited English proficiency as child caused him to miss all the important grammar lessons. As a result, despite his precociousness, his educational development and achievement was impacted.  After high school, Héctor attended college on a part-time basis at University of Houston Downtown but frustrated by his lack of basic skills, he dropped out college.  Four years later, he enrolled at San Jacinto College.  Afterwards, he was accepted at the University of Houston Central Campus where he majored in Political Science and minored in Sociology.  


    POLITICS


    In 1990 a political action committee called Latinos Unidos was created by a group of Houston Latino leaders with the goal of increasing the participation of Latinos in the American political process. The committee was chaired by Leonel J. Castillo, former City of Houston Controller and Commissioner of INS under President Jimmy Carter. The groups devoted volunteers labored in the corner of a Houston councilmember’s office. As one of the main volunteers of the group, Héctor was responsible for helping organize a weekly meeting and voter registration block walks. He also organized monthly voter registration at U.S. naturalization ceremonies and grass roots mobilization activities. Eventually, Héctor became director of the PAC. Under his leadership the group established an independent office and organized U.S citizenship classes where he served as the instructor.

    Héctor’s work ethic and commitment to Latino empowerment earned him the opportunity to join the NALEO Educational Fund’s Texas office in 1993. At the time, NALEO was known as the foremost advocate of increased access to U.S. citizenship information and assistance in the country. Héctor was appointed director in 1994. Under his guidance, NALEO helped create a network of community based groups that worked together to organize citizenship classes, administer the naturalization exam and conduct U.S citizenship workshops, providing assistance with the naturalization process to thousands of legal residents in Southeast Texas.

    During his time with NALEO, Héctor incorporated an annual voter education and mobilization campaign into the Fund’s programmatic activities during election cycles, a precursor to NALEO’s current Ve y Vota and Voces del Pueblo nationwide initiatives.  The campaign which began in 1995 consisted of informative Public Service Announcements that were supplemented with organized voter registration and education activities. It concluded with an Election Day voter information hotline and election analysis for the Univision Houston affiliate. By 2001, the work of the Houston NALEO office was reflected in a new mission statement, “the nation’s leading nonprofit organization that facilitates the full participation of Latinos in the American political process”.

    In 2006 at the NALEO Annual Conference, Héctor was recognized for his work in establishing the NALEO Educational Fund as the leading non-profit civic education organization in Southeast Texas.

    In 2009, Hector established www.hectordeleon.com where he posts thoughts on general issues, issues relevant to the Hispanic community and reports on voting in local [Harris County] elections. 


    GOVERNMENT

    Héctor joined the County in May 2004 as a Voter Outreach Coordinator. He distinguished himself while implementing a language assistance program for the Harris County Clerk’s Office, targeting voters of Vietnamese and Hispanic ancestry that are limited English proficient. Héctor also distinguished himself by authoring a paper pertaining to language assistance that led to recognition of the Harris County Clerk's Office by the Texas Association of Counties for Superior Innovation at the 2005 County Best Practice Awards Ceremony.  Additionally, he distinguished himself by authoring several editorial opinions that appeared in the Houston Chronicle. And, he established a Hispanic Advisory Committee.

    In July of 2007, Héctor was named Director of Communications and Voter Outreach. In his capacity, he handles communications with the public for the County Clerk and is responsible for leading the effort to provide the citizenry of the county the information, materials and assistance needed to access the voting process. 


    PERSONAL


    Héctor is married to Dr. Lisi Cocina, Dean of Students at McReynolds Middle School, and has a 19 year-old step-daughter; Gabriella, who is currently in the HCC Honors Program and an 8 year old son, Joaquín, who is a 3rd grader at HISD’s Woodrow Wilson Montessori School.



 

 

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