Patricia Diaz Dennis

PATRICIA DIAZ DENNIS is a longstanding leader and groundbreaking role model. For decades, she has forged paths and opened doors of opportunity for women, and remains committed to keeping them open.

Since her graduation from law school in 1973, Diaz Dennis achieved many firsts for women and Latinas in the legal profession, government, and the communications industry. She was the first female attorney at Paul Hastings, and eventually went on to receive three presidential appointments confirmed by the U.S. Senate. In 1983, President Reagan appointed her a member of the National Labor Relations board, and in 1986, he appointed her a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission—both firsts for Latinas. In 1992, she became the first Latina Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian affairs, appointed by President George H.W. Bush.

A role model for women in the private sector through her extensive board service, Diaz Dennis is currently a director on three public company boards: Amalgamated Bank, U.S. Steel, and Entravision Communications. She retired in April 2017 as the longest-serving board member of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, having joined in 1995. Other past board service includes Telemundo, CarrAmerica, and National Public Radio.

Diaz Dennis has a deep and personal commitment to civic and community service, with a special focus on advancing women. She believes strong women begin their leadership development as young girls. She chaired the Girl Scouts of the USA because, as a former Girl Scout, she knows the organization builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. She was the first Latina Board Chair, and served on its board for nine years. For 16 years, she  served on the Board of Directors for the Foundation for Women’s Resources (now called Leadership Women), which develops leadership programs for women such as Leadership Texas, Leadership America, Leadership Pipeline, and created the Women’s Museum in Dallas. She was a visionary delegate for Vision 2020: The Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership, and has been active in legal associations advancing women, including the Bexar County Women’s Bar Association and the American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession. She currently serves on several not-for-profit boards, including NHP Foundation (since 2003) which preserves and builds affordable multi-family housing for low and moderate income families and seniors. Since 2013, she has chaired the Sanctions Panel for The Global Fund (since 2013) whose mission is to end tuberculosis, AIDS, and Malaria world-wide. She is chair of the Board of Trustees of the World Affairs Council of San Antonio. Diaz Dennis is also active in the San Antonio Women’s Forum.

Her many awards attest to the significance of her professional and social sector achievements, and include Direct Women’s Sandra Day O’Connor Board of Excellence Award (2017), the Hispanic National Bar Association’s Latina Commission Las Primeras Award (2016), the Private Company Director of the Year Award (2015), the Texas State Bar Association Sarah T. Hughes Women Lawyers of Achievement Award (2012), the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame Award for Law (2002), and Alumna of the Year, UCLA Latino Alumni Association (1999).

Born in Santa Rita, New Mexico, Diaz Dennis holds a law degree from Loyola University of Los Angeles, where she was Executive Editor of the Loyola Law Review, and an undergraduate degree from the University of California at Los Angeles. She and her husband Michael live in San Antonio and are the proud parents of three adult children and five grandchildren.