Sila María Calderón

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Sila María Calderón Serra (born September 23, 1942) is a Puerto Rico politician and businesswoman who served as the seventh Governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico from 2001 to 2005. She is the first and to date only woman elected to that office. Prior to serving as Governor, Calderón held various positions in the Government of Puerto Rico, including Secretary of State and Chief of Staff. She was also Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, the Capital of Puerto Rico from 1997-2001.

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Early life and education

Sila grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico and attended high school at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Santurce, Puerto Rico. In 1964 she graduated with honors from Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government. She later attended the Graduate School of Public Administration at the University of Puerto Rico.

Career

Her career began in 1973 when she was named Executive Aide to the Labor Secretary and later Special Aide for Economic Development to then Governor, Rafael Hernández Colón. From 1975 to 1984, she was product manager at Citibank, N.A. in San Juan. At the time, Citibank in San Juan was one of John Reed's experimental marketing centers. As part of her business development responsibilities, Mrs. Calderón designed and marketed several new consumer products which significantly increased the earnings of the Retail Division of the Bank. In 1978, she became president of Commonwealth Investment Company, a family real estate concern that owned and managed industrial buildings. Calderón became the first woman Chief of Staff in Puerto Rico in 1985. Later, she served as Secretary of State, a position which includes the responsibilities of a Lieutenant Governor.

She resigned in 1989 and returned to her business endeavors, and community work, most notably the Peninsula de Cantera Project, a public private initiative which fostered grass roots redevelopment of one of the most poverty stricken sectors of San Juan, located only steps away from the financial sector of the city. Cantera has since become a model for community development not only for Puerto Rico, but internationally. During those years, she was appointed Chair of the Puerto Rico Public Broadcasting Corporation. At the time, she also served on the boards of major local corporations such as Banco Popular and Pueblo International, as well as on the board of the Government Development Bank and the Puerto Rico Economic Development Council.

Mayor of San Juan

Sila M. Calderón returned to public life in 1995, running in the 1995 Popular Democratic Party primary for Mayor of San Juan, winning handily over her two opponents by a huge margin, and then being elected Mayor of the city of San Juan in 1996, becoming the second woman in the city's history to serve in that office and the first woman elected to the position. As mayor, she undertook one of the largest public works program in the city to date, sponsoring various urban redevelopment projects to revitalize Old San Juan, Condado, Rio Piedras, Santurce, and other deteriorated sections of the city. She also initiated the Special Communities Program to assist poor communities’ empowerment and economic development.

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