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Name: Castro, Marty
Current Position: Previous Chair

In January 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Martin R. Castro as Chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR), and on March 11 he was approved by the Commission. The USCCR is an independent federal agency that addresses civil rights issues and discrimination complaints based on age, color, disability, national origin, race, religion, or sex, in the fields of education, employment, housing, and voting rights, and serves as a watchdog over government policies and the administration of justice in respect to denial of equal protection under the law due to discrimination. The USCCR was created in 1957, but in recent years it has been the focus of partisan bickering. Castro is the eighth chair of the Commission and the first Latino chair in the Commission’s history.

Born August 12, 1963, in Chicago, Illinois, Castro is the son and grandson of Mexican immigrants, and was the first in his family to go to college, earning his B.A. in Political Science in 1985 from DePaul University and his J.D. in 1988 from the University of Michigan Law School. He has indicated his pride in being the product of Head Start and affirmative action programs in higher education. He was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1988, and went to work in the Chicago offices of Baker & McKenzie, where his responsibilities included leading the firm’s minority recruiting efforts. He left the law firm in May, 2000, to become Vice-President, Managing Director of Business Development and Acting General Counsel at, a legal-related Internet company, but when the “dot com” bubble burst in 2001, the company went belly-up. 
In 2001 Castro formed a private law firm with three other attorneys—Castro, Gomez, Durbin & de Jesus—where his work included corporate law, commercial litigation, diversity consulting and government affairs. Just a year later, however, Castro left that firm to become a partner at Seyfarth Shaw, where he stayed until 2004. He joined the law firm of Sonnenschein, Nath and Rosenthal as a partner, leaving in 2007. Castro then joined the corporate world as Regional Vice President of External Affairs at Aetna from 2007 to 2009.
Castro founded, and is the President and CEO of, Castro Synergies, LLC, which provides consulting services to corporations, entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations. In the early 2000s, Castro also co-founded New Futuro, which helps Hispanic parents and students on the path to higher education; in 2011, New Futuro was acquired by AP Capital Partners, and Castro became Chairman of New Futuro.
In 2002, Castro ran for Congress from Chicago’s Fourth Congressional District, but lost in the Democratic primary to incumbent Luis Gutierrez. In December 2009, Castro was appointed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to chair the Illinois Human Rights Commission, the state public body that arbitrates complaints of civil rights violations in housing, employment, public accommodations and financial credit.
Castro is chair of the board of the National Museum of Mexican Art, the only Latino Museum in the United States accredited by the American Association of Museums, and serves or has served on the boards of the Chicago Community Trust and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and is the former chair of the Hispanic National Bar Association U.S. Supreme Court Committee. Castro also chaired the Judicial Nominations Commission for the Northern District of Illinois, by appointment of U.S. Senator Richard Durbin.
A lifelong Democrat, from 1995 to 2008, Castro contributed $35,425 to Democratic candidates and causes, including $500 to Barack Obama’s successful 2004 Senate campaign, and $2,500 to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Castro is married to Amalia Rioja, with whom he has two sons. Rioja most recently served in the Illinois Attorney General’s Office as Chief Deputy Public Access Counselor.
Marty Castro Is First Latino to Lead Civil Rights Commission (by Michel Martin, National Public Radio)
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