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Henry Cisneros
Urban Innovator
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Henry Cisneros
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Co-chair of the Bipartisan Policy Center's Immigration Task Force, former HUD secretary, and housing innovator Henry Cisneros is a testament to American leadership, diversity, and community building. His vision of a strong, resilient society starts with fair housing and stretches beyond race and class.

One of the first Hispanic Americans to run a major city, Cisneros came to national prominence when he was elected Mayor of San Antonio in 1981. During his four terms, Cisneros rebuilt the city’s economy by increasing tourism, attracting high-technology firms, and creating tens of thousands of jobs. The American Mayor named him one of the nation’s 15 best mayors of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Co-chair of the BPC’s Immigration Task Force, along with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Governors Haley Barbour and Ed Rendell, Cisneros considers all aspects of immigration reform and encourages dialogue among interest groups and decision makers. He co-founded the Cisneros Center for New Americans, which is developing "a 'road map' to empowering young immigrants as they strive to fully integrate into American society."

In 1992, President Bill Clinton appointed Cisneros as Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Cisneros initiated the revitalization of many of the nation's public housing developments, renovating 250 of the worst public housing units and demolishing another 43,000 vacant ones for reconstruction.

Cisneros founded CityView, an investment firm focused on urban real estate, in-city housing, and metropolitan infrastructure. As Executive Chairman, Cisneros is committed to innovative urban solutions, efficient land use, and housing affordability. In 2015, Cisneros became one of the new owners of New York-based public finance firm Siebert, Brandford, Shank & Co., which changed its name to Siebert, Cisneros, Brandford, Shank & Co. LLC. 

Cisneros' books include Latinos and the Nation’s Future, Interwoven Destinies, and Urban Real Estate Investment: A New Era of Opportunity. Recipient of the Habitat for Humanity Visionary Award, Cisneros has been inducted into the National Association of Homebuilders' "Builders Hall of Fame."

The former President and COO of Univision and the co-founder of Latino Donor Collaborative, Cisneros serves on the advisory boards of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation and the National Hispanic University. He has a PhD in Public Administration from The George Washington University and served as the President of the National League of Cities. He has appeared on Fox, The Charlie Rose Show, and CNBC.

Full Bio >
  • HBO: The Latin List - Henry Cisneros
  • Bloomberg TV: Cisneros Discusses Growing Impact of Latinos on American politics and economy
  • Cisneros on workforce housing 
  • The Economist: Cisneros on infrastructure and public funds (2011)
  • Wall Street Week: Barbara Corcoran & Henry Cisneros (2016)
  • Texas Legacies: Mary Alice Cisneros and Henry Cisneros (2013)
  • Latino Leadership Initiative: Henry Cisneros 
  • Henry Cisneros shares insights about U.S. housing market * CNBC Fast Money (2009)
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Speaking Topics
Our Cities: Fueling America’s Destiny

A metropolitan nation, sixty-five percent of American’s live in just the 100 largest metropolitan areas, which produce seventy-five percent of the gross domestic product. Key functions of national prosperity occur in metropolitan areas, including the shipping of goods at ports and airports that support global trade and the research at urban universities that generate technological and medical breakthroughs.

Given today’s economic and social climate, the nation’s future depends on recalibrating urban and metropolitan strategies to focus investments in infrastructure and human capital.

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American Latinos and the Nation’s Future

American Latinos are the nation’s fastest growing segment of the population, the largest minority group, the youngest segment of the population, and the most rapidly increasing proportion of the middle class. The Latino trajectory of progress is vital to the nation’s future.

The difference between Latinos as a marginalized population or Latinos as full contributors to the workforce and to economic prosperity will be a critical determinant of America’s competitiveness and social stability. It is essential to act now on strategies to fully integrate Latinos into the mainstream of American life.

Click here to read more about this topic in the Wall Street Journal

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Immigrants: An Essential Ingredient for A Strong America

In today’s world, immigrants represent a higher proportion of the nation’s population than any time since the early 1900’s. Their contributions are not only substantial, but they are essential to a strong American future. Immigrants contribute prodigious intellectual assets, youthful workforce skills, and the raw energies of determined people.

The United States must reform its dysfunctional immigration framework, but go beyond that to formulate national initiatives to fully integrate immigrants so that the nation can have the immense benefit of their talents.

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Smart Growth: Developing the Economy, Infrastructure, and a Sustainable Future

The engine propelling the American economy, the strategic development of infrastructure and metropolitan areas fosters research breakthroughs and entrepreneurial energies and can help address environmental and energy challenges. Thoughtful innovations in the applications of technology, building materials, land use planning, mass transit and community design can make the country more efficient, livable, and sustainable. Applying smart growth strategies to will usher in a new global economy making the country more attractive and socially cohesive enhancing the population’s quality of life.

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Independence for America's Seniors

Staying home, aging in place, is most people’s preference, but most American housing and communities are not adapted to the needs of older people. With the fastest population growth among people over 65, finding solutions for successful aging is important not only for individual families, but for all of society. Former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros assess the current state of housing and present new possibilities that realistically address the interrelated issues of housing, communities, services, and financial concerns.

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Facing Up to Cancer: One Man's Journey

Henry Cisneros still talks about housing and urban development and the ways cities and immigrants can help the country thrive. But he also talks about cancer – his experience with prostate cancer. With over 240,000 cases of prostate cancer diagnosed a year, Cisneros wants to talk about cancer. A difficult subject for everyone, Cisneros knows how important it is to talk about cancer and wants to encourage men, and women, to see their doctors, ask for blood tests, and have annual exams. He believes that opening up this dialogue is not only important but potentially life saving.

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Housing: A Platform for Uplifting Families

A home is a place to live and is the largest expenditure most American’s undertake. But it is also an essential dimension of an uplifting life. It is a platform for education, self-improvement, work, health, and for stable family cohesion. The nation needs strategies that go beyond thinking of housing as four-walls of physical shelter to policies that support affordable living in nurturing communities for persons at every stage of life.

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The Essentials of Successful Leadership for the 21st Century

The tectonic plates undergirding our society are shifting rapidly. The significant changes are generational, multicultural, technological, environmental, and economic. They require new ways of exercising leadership in the key institutions of our society: business, governmental, religious, educational, and civic. Leadership must be inclusive, respectful of diversity, consultative, capable of sharing a vision of progress, flexible, and responsive.

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Books & Other Works
  • Interwoven Destinies: Cities and the Nation
  • Latinos and the Nation's Future
  • Independent for Life: Homes and Neighborhoods for an Aging America
  • Casa Y Comunidad: Latino Home and Neighborhood Design
“We were very impressed with Mr. Cisneros’s preparation before our 25th anniversary event, and his delivery on topic at the event. It was evident that he took the time to understand our organization, our work and how it fit into the national arena of affordable housing development and resident support services before arriving. At the event, he was able to speak from his deep experience and knowledge on national trends, and would often make a point of circling back to highlight how our work was relevant both locally and elsewhere. His speech was a major highlight of our day.”
Better Housing Coalition
“The event was great. Henry was a huge hit.”
Colvin Institute of Real Estate, University of Maryland
“Henry Cisneros, in the clearest and most focused way, set the agenda for all of us in the future.”
The National Association of State Boards of Education
“Your presentation was so succinct and so on target with those important messages that we wanted to convey to attendees. You are, indeed, a “miracle person,” sent to communities for significantly strategic times...”
The Ohio State University
“Henry's talk was a real hit. Everyone loved him. Many people commented on how energetic he was.”
Penn Institute for Urban Research, UPENN
“Henry Cisneros is a wonderful speaker and a gracious guest. SMU was very lucky to have him on our campus.”
Southern Methodist University
“Spectacular!! He's a very vibrant speaker and was genuinely kind and gracious to everyone he met - made each person he met feel as though he/she was the only one in his world. What a great guy!”
University Park Alliance
“We don't believe we can do more to indicate the enthusiasm and receptivity of our members than was demonstrated by the lauds and standing ovation given you at the Friday night session.”
Association for California School Administrators
“Cisneros was excellent. He was forceful and articulate, and challenged the audience on all the right stuff, and received a sustained standing ovation at the end. He was also funny and charming, as usual.”
Council of the Great City Schools
“I can't say enough about how great he was.”
Grand Rapids Community College
“There was a real electricity in the air with your presence and speech.”
California Association for Bilingual Education
“Henry Cisneros was the opening speaker for our three-day meeting. The theme of the day focused on what makes a successful leader and he customized his remarks to our agenda and set the tone for the whole conference.”
Ascension Health
“You provided an enriching experience for our 2,000 attendees and we heard many positive references about your remarks during the rest of the convention.”
American Association of Community and Junior Colleges
“Henry Cisneros was wonderful! His warm and cordial manner impressed all...”
The William Paterson College
“His speech was relevant and challenging to his community. The audience gave him a spontaneous, standing applause.”
Youngstown State University
“Your remarks on cultural diversity and the future of the United States work force were right on target and very meaningful to our top management group.”
El Paso Natural Gas Company
“Your message was informative, timely and eloquently delivered. Your perspectives on the future of our nations' cities were refreshing and inspiring.”
University of Wisconsin
“Adapting a governmental agency to function effectively in today's world is a real challenge. Thank you for sharing your penetrating insights into the business of government.”
Florida Department of Labor and Employment Security
“You richly deserved the standing ovation you received. Your insights and inspiration will move all of us forward so that preservation plays a stronger role in our cities.”
National Trust for Historic Preservation
“He was everything you said he would be and more. One of the best speakers we ever had at Central Michigan University. He picks out his audience and then talks to them.”
Central Michigan University
Civic Engagement
Commencement Speakers
Community Development
Community Service
Corporate Culture
Cultural Identity
Executive Development
Green Business
Hispanic-American Culture
Latin America
Real Estate
Urban Affairs
Urban Revitalization
Work-Life Balance