URI grad, mayor of Providence to be honored with diversity award at URI

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KINGSTON, R.I., Feb. 25, 2016 – The University of Rhode Island will honor Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza at the 18th annual Diversity Awards on Tuesday April 19. Elorza will receive the Diversity Award for Lifetime Achievement and will be the featured speaker at the banquet and award ceremony at 6:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Ballroom, 50 Lower College Road.

The son of Guatemalan immigrants, Jorge was born and raised in the West End of Providence.

“I barely graduated from high school. People believed in me, and they opened doors for me, and I was able to turn my life around,” said Elorza on his campaign website. Elorza was a Talent development student at the University of Rhode Island who gradated at the top of his class. Talent Development recruits students with college potential, admits them through a rigorous Summer Program, provides them with an assigned academic advisor, and retains students with financial and other assistance.

After graduating from URI, Elorza worked on Wall Street where he was an auditor for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Elorza was called back to Providence by the news that one of his best childhood friends had been murdered. “It was at that moment that I decided to return home to Providence and dedicate my life to public service,” said Elorza.

Elorza eventually attended Harvard Law School, and found his passion in legal systems through which he could correct injustices in the local communities. Elorza worked for the Rhode Island Legal Services, where he provided free legal counseling to families living in slum conditions or facing evictions. In 2005, Elorza joined the Roger Williams University faculty where he specialized in housing laws. Elorza resolved public interest cases in federal and state courts, and co-founded the Latino Policy Institute.

In 2010, Jorge was appointed to the Providence Housing Court. Elorza’s ultimate mission was to hold big banks accountable for the abandoned properties throughout the city.

Elorza defeated former mayor, the late Vincent “Buddy” Cianci in the 2014 mayoral election and on Jan. 5 2015 was sworn in as mayor of Providence.

In addition to Elorza’s award, URI will honor several students, student organizations, faculty, staff and administrators who promote multiculturalism and diversity.

Awards will be presented for contributions to undergraduate student excellence in academics, service, leadership and arts and culture; graduate student excellence in academics; leadership and service; faculty excellence in leadership and excellence, and staff and administrative excellence in leadership services.

The awards banquet is sponsored by the URI’s Multicultural Center; the Office of Community, Equity and Diversity; the URI Office of Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity and Diversity; and the Graduate School.

Photo courtesy of Mayor Jorge Elorza office.

Dominick LaFerrera, an intern in Marketing & Communications and a communication studies major wrote this release.