Poet Dana Gioia Sworn In As First Mexican-American Chairman of The National Endowment for the Arts
Alberto R. Gonzales Gives Oath of Office in White House Ceremony
February 13, 2003
Washington, DC -- Two high level Administration officials of Latino heritage met for the first time today as internationally acclaimed poet Dana Gioia was sworn in as the ninth Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts at a White House ceremony. President George W. Bush's General Counsel and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Alberto R. "Al" Gonzales administered the oath of office in a private ceremony attended by Mr. Gioia's family and White House officials. Mr. Gioia was nominated by President Bush and confirmed unanimously on January 29, 2003 by the U.S. Senate.
Chairman Gioia is a fourth generation Mexican American who traces his roots to Chihuahua, Mexico, where his maternal great grandfather Jesus Ortiz was born. Gioia's grandfather, Francisco Ortiz, moved to Los Angeles in the 1920s, where his mother, Dorothy Ortiz Gioia, was born. She was present at today's ceremony, which marked her first visit to Washington and the White House. Gioia's ancestry on his father's side is Italian.
Gioia is a renowned poet, critic, educator and former business executive. Winner of the American Book Award, he is internationally recognized for his role in reviving rhyme and meter in contemporary poetry. An influential critic, he has combined populist ideals and high standards to bring poetry to a broader audience. He was also the founder and co-director of the "Teaching Poetry" conference for high school teachers in Santa Rosa, California.
Both Chairman Gioia and Justice Gonzales rose from the humble beginnings of their Latino backgrounds to be the first in their families to attend college. Both enrolled as scholarship students at prestigious universities - Gioia at Stanford, Gonzales at Rice - and then went on to advanced study at Harvard, Gioia in comparative literature and Gonzales in law. Gioia also earned an MBA at Stanford University. Gioia, a native Californian, is the first Latino to head the Arts Endowment. Gonzales was the first Latino to be appointed to a high level Administration post.
Photo by Steven Purcell
Please see Dana Gioia's biography.
A high-resolution version of the photo above can be downloaded.
For more information, contact the NEA Office of Communications at 202-682-5570.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency