Former Secretary, Department of Housing and Urban Development
Contact Henry Cisneros
Henry Cisneros co-chairs the Bipartisan Policy Center's (BPC) Housing Commission and BPC's Immigration Task Force. He is Executive Chairman of the CityView companies, which work with urban homebuilders to create homes priced within the range of average families. CityView is a partner in building more than 60 communities in 13 states, incorporating more than 7,000 homes with a home value of over $2 billion.
Cisneros’ community-building career began at the local level. After serving three terms as a City Councilmember, in 1981, Cisneros became the first Hispanic-American mayor of a major U.S. city, San Antonio, Texas. During his four terms as Mayor, he helped rebuild the city’s economic base and spurred the creation of jobs through massive infrastructure and downtown improvements. In 1984, Cisneros was interviewed by the Democratic Presidential nominee as a possible candidate for Vice President of the United States and in 1986 was selected as the “Outstanding Mayor” in the nation by City and State Magazine.
After completing four terms as Mayor, Cisneros formed Cisneros Asset Management Company, a fixed income management firm operating nationally and ranked at the time as the second fastest growing money manager in the nation.
In 1992, President Clinton appointed Cisneros to be Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. As a member of President Clinton’s Cabinet, Secretary Cisneros was credited with initiating the revitalization of many of the nation’s public housing developments and with formulating policies which contributed to achieving the nation’s highest ever homeownership rate. In his role as the President’s chief representative to the nation’s cities, Cisneros personally worked in more than 200 U.S. cities in every one of the 50 states.
After leaving HUD in 1997, Cisneros was president and chief operating officer of Univision Communications, the Spanish-language broadcaster which has become the fifth-most-watched television network in the nation. Cisneros currently serves on Univision’s Board of Directors.
Cisneros has served as President of the National League of Cities, as Deputy Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and is currently an officer of Habitat for Humanity International. Cisneros remains active in San Antonio’s leadership where he is Chairman of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation. He is currently a member of the advisory boards of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Broad Foundation.
Cisneros has been inducted into the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) “Builders Hall of Fame” and honored by the National Housing Conference as the “Housing Person of the Year.”
Cisneros has also been author or editor of several books including: Interwoven Destinies: Cities and the Nation. His book project with former HUD Secretary Jack Kemp, Opportunity and Progress: A Bipartisan Platform for National Housing Policy, was presented the Common Purpose Award for demonstrating the potential of bipartisan cooperation and Casa y Comunidad: Latino Home and Neighborhood Design was awarded the Benjamin Franklin Silver Medal in the category of best business book of 2006.
Cisneros holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Texas A&M University. He earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University, studied urban economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, holds a Doctorate in Public Administration from George Washington University, and has been awarded more than 20 honorary doctorates from leading universities. He served as an infantry officer in the United States Army. Cisneros is married to Mary Alice P. Cisneros, who from 2007–2011 served on San Antonio’s City Council and they have three children – Teresa, Mercedes, and John Paul – and four grandchildren.