Jose Huizar *94
Los Angeles, CA

Region IV Candidate

"My educational journey began in 1972 at Euclid Avenue Elementary School in East Los Angeles and led me across the country to Princeton," says Jose Huizar *94, an attorney who finds himself back in Los Angeles as President of the Board of Education for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). "I went to the Woodrow Wilson School with a desire to make the world a better place," he says. "Upon graduation, I knew I had become a member of a larger community committed to that same value."

Huizar was born in Zacatecas, Mexico, and later moved to Los Angeles. His father was a migrant farm worker who became a machine operator, and his mother worked in the meat packaging industry. Huizar earned his BA at U.C. Berkeley in 1991. After graduating from Princeton with his MA in Public Affairs and Urban and Regional Planning, he returned to California where he earned his JD at UCLA Law School in 1997.

Huizar then spent several years as an associate in the environmental divisions of several Los Angeles law firms, working on land and water use issues. In 2001 he accepted a position as Deputy City Attorney at the LA City's Attorney Office, advising city departments and the City Council on real property matters. Since 2003 he has practiced land use and real estate law part-time with Ecovar, Avila, Christopher and Ruiz, LLP, a Pasadena-based law firm.

In 2001 Huizar decided to run for membership on the Los Angeles Board of Education, a decision that was "deeply rooted in a desire to be involved in addressing the crisis in our educational system," he says. "Next to national security, this country faces no single issue of greater importance than the education of our children." In 2003, Huizar was elected President of the board by its other members.

LAUSD is the second largest school district in the country with an approximately eight billion dollar annual budget and 730,000 students. Under his leadership, the Board of Education "is currently overseeing the largest public works program in the nation, a $14.4 billion construction project that will build over 160 new schools in the next eight years and help relieve severe overcrowding," says Huizar. The project, although enormous, does not daunt Huizar, who claims, "I strongly believe that it is possible for people to mobilize for desired and necessary change. I continue to be driven by an unquenchable thirst to improve the world and by a vision of a country that embraces diversity and looks to increase opportunities for the underserved communities."

Huizar's accomplishments thus far have garnered him numerous awards, including the 2004 Los Angeles Headquarters Association Education Award and the 2004 Community Service Award from the Princeton Club of Southern California, to name just a couple. He has served on many committees and boards related to Los Angeles urban affairs and education. The list includes the White Memorial Medical Center Charitable Foundation, the Latino Issues Forum, and the East Area Planning Commission of the City of Los Angeles. In 2004 the Los Angeles Business Journal profiled Huizar as one of 25 figures in the Los Angeles area who "stand out for their potential to shape lives."

Huizar is also a member of Princeton's Schools Committee and has interviewed candidates for admission. He sees the University as "an incredible resource to this country," but urges it to "be concerned with the state of public education and the pool of talent that the future of the country depends on." Princeton's "leadership" and "critical thinking" are "vital" to the national discussion about public education and other issues, he believes. And "by linking itself to the nation's challenges in public education," he says, "Princeton can continue to be at the cusp of the public policy changes of the country."