Monday, December 20, 2010

Hispanics at the top of Music City: six people who led important non-Latino Nashville institutions in the 2000's

L-R (top): Pedro Garcia, Greg Gonzales, Dolores Gresham
L-R (bottom): Giancarlo Guerrero, Gregg Ramos, Raul Regalado

The six people who appear above have been the Hispanic leaders of non-Latino institutions in Nashville at various times since 2000.  Over the last decade, they have been at the very top of organizations with clout in this city, with four of them heading government bodies and two of them heading non-profits.  Two of them were named "Nashvillian of the Year" by the Nashville Scene.

These leaders are Pedro Garcia, Greg Gonzales, Dolores Gresham, Giancarlo Guerrero, Gregg Ramos, and Raul Regalado. Their bios are below.

Dr. Pedro E. Garcia was Director of Schools for the Metropolitan Nashville Public School ("MNPS") system from 2001 to 2008, the second-longest  tenure at the top spot in district history.  Garcia oversaw 139 schools serving a student body population of 75,000.  After just one year in the job, the Nashville Scene named him 2002 Nashvillian of the Year for his "revolutionary" approach to the school system.

Garcia was born in Cuba and arrived in the USA in 1962, at the age of 15. He was part of Operation Peter Pan, which brought 14,048 children to freedom from communism. He lived in a Miami camp for refugees until his parents arrived months later. In 1963, they moved to Iowa, where he learned English and graduated from high school. He earned his B.A. degree from Kansas University; his master's degree is from San Diego State University and his doctorate degree from The University of Southern California in 1983.

Garcia is currently Executive in Residence for the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California.

Greg Gonzales is currently the head of the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions, having been named Commissioner by Governor Bredesen in 2007.  Governor-Elect Bill Haslam has announced that Gonzales will stay on in that position following Bredesen's departure in January.

As Commissioner, Gonzales serves as Tennessee's chief regulatory officer of all state-chartered depository and licensed nondepository financial institutions. The department supervises approximately 12,000 financial institutions and companies doing business in Tennessee. Prior to being named commissioner, Gonzales served as acting commissioner beginning in December 2005. He previously served as assistant commissioner and general counsel. In his role as assistant commissioner, he was responsible for coordinating the provision of legal advice to the commissioner and the department.

Gonzales was born in Cookeville, Tennessee. He received a bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University in 1980 and earned a law degree from the University of Tennessee in 1984.

State Senator Dolores R. Gresham is the Chair the Senate Education Committee and the Co-Chair of the Joint Education Oversight Committee of the Tennessee State Senate.  A Republican, Gresham has represented District 26 since 2008, having also served in the State House of Representatives from Tennessee's 94th District in 2002.

Gresham holds a Bachelor of Arts from University of the Incarnate Word, Masters of Arts from Loyola University New Orleans and a Masters of Science in Administration from The George Washington University. She served in the United States Marine Corps, retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Gresham is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants to the U.S., and the first Latina State Senator in Tennessee history.

Giancarlo Guerrero is the Music Director of the Nashville Symphony, a position he accepted as of the 2009-2010 season.  He is the Symphony's eighth Music Director and its first since the opening of its new home, the $123.5 million, 1,844-seat Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

Guerrero was previously Music Director of Oregon's Eugene Symphony, a position he held for six seasons.  Guerrero has also guest-conducted many major American orchestras including the Baltimore Symphony, The Cleveland Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Seattle Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. He served as Associate Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1999-2004 and made his Minnesota Orchestra subscription debut in March 2000 leading the world premiere of John Corigliano's Phantasmagoria on the Ghosts of Versailles. Mr. Guerrero made his European debut with the Gulbenkian Orchestra and his UK Debut with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

Born in Nicaragua and raised in Costa Rica, Mr. Guerrero began his musical training in Costa Rica as a member of the Costa Rica Youth Symphony. He received his bachelor's degree from Baylor University in Texas and his master's degree in conducting from Northwestern University in Illinois. Mr. Guerrero's principal conducting teachers were Michael Haithcock, Stephen Heyde, Victor Yampolsky and Guillermo Scarabino. Prior to his tenure with the Minnesota Orchestra, he served as Music Director of the Tachira Symphony Orchestra in Venezuela.

A. Gregory ("Gregg") Ramos was the President of the Nashville Bar Association in 2004, and he was President of Catholic Charities of Tennessee from 2007 to 2008. Ramos is also the other Hispanic Nashvillian of the Year besides Pedro Garcia.  Ramos received that honor from the Nashville Scene in 2008 because he "works tirelessly to make Nashville a better place for people of all races and backgrounds."

Ramos received his B.A. degree from Arizona State University in 1977 and his J.D. degree from Arizona State University College of Law in 1980. Upon graduation from law school in 1980, Mr. Ramos started his legal career as an Assistant Prosecutor in Phoenix, AZ, where he tried over forty (40) jury trials in four (4) years. In 1984, Ramos moved to Nashville, where he ultimately co-founded the law firm North, Pursell, Ramos & Jameson PLC.  Ramos was named among the "Best of the Bar" by the Nashville Business Journal in 2009, and he maintains a general civil litigation practice with an emphasis in the areas of personal injury, employment law and workers’ compensation.

Ramos was born in Arizona. His father was born in El Paso, Texas, to Mexican nationals.

Raul Regalado has served as President and CEO of the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority since 2001, and he is past Board Chairman for the Nashville Area Chapter of the American Red Cross.

As President and CEO of the Airport Authority, Regalado directs the overall planning, development and operation of Nashville International and John C. Tune Airports. Approximately 10 million passengers and over 79,000 tons of cargo pass through those airports annually. The terminal complex includes a 900,000-square-foot passenger terminal with 47 air carrier gates and up to 78 commuter parking positions. The airports contribute $3.74 billion in economic activity and $1.18 billion in wages and more than 39,700 jobs annually to the regional economy. They serve a trade area of 79 counties in Middle Tennessee, Southern Kentucky, and Northern Alabama.

Regalado received a degree in aviation management from Embry‐Riddle Aeronautical University.  He also has completed graduate level course work with the USDA Graduate School and Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Management. He has more than 42 years of experience in aviation, including eight years in the private sector and more than 28 years in the public sector.  Regalado retired as a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve after serving 29 years in various active duty, Reserve, and National Guard senior leadership positions, and where he received numerous awards

Regalado holds an instrument and commercial pilot certificate for single and multi‐engine airplanes, helicopters, floatplanes, and gliders; owns his own airplane, which he flies for business and pleasure; and has logged approximately 3,800 hours of flight time.

Regalado is originally from California.

The information above is quoted verbatim from, excerpted from, or paraphrased from Wikipedia and from the official bios of Pedro Garcia, Pedro Garcia, Greg Gonzales, Dolores Gresham, Giancarlo Guerrero, Gregg Ramos, and Raul Regalado.

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