GARCIA, Grace Ann Feb. 24, 1955-June 2, 2014|
Grace Ann Garcia died tragically on Monday June 2, 2014. This untimely accident ended the life of a dedicated, visionary woman committed to her faith and to the cause of justice, fairness and democratic governance. She worked tirelessly to protect and empower women, minorities and the vulnerable members of our society.
Born in Heidelberg, Germany, to U.S. Army Colonel Efraim S. Garcia and Alicia O. Garcia R.N., Grace returned to her family's native San Antonio when her father retired from the military. She attended and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School where she enjoyed being a member of the Lassos Dance Team. A University of Texas graduate and a dedicated Longhorn, she remained a diehard supporter of the Longhorns.
Grace's childhood in a military family instilled in her the values and discipline that would allow her to excel in some of the most challenging jobs in our country. This combination of a strong military father and a loving mother who dedicated her own life to nursing the sick and the wounded, developed within Grace a fierce combination of organizational ability, loyalty, personal ethics and strong dedication to democracy.
She was a person of profound faith, holding always to the belief that helping others was her Christian duty, and she demonstrated her faith through her lifelong participation in the Methodist Church, serving in leadership positions within her congregations wherever she lived. Her first involvement on the public stage began modestly with her engagement with the Southwest Voter Registration Project in San Antonio which was dedicated to the empowerment of Hispanics and Latinos.
She then campaigned and went to work for Land Commissioner Garry Mauro, who introduced her to his good friend, the Governor of Arkansas William Jefferson Clinton. Grace was one of the first people to join the Clinton presidential campaign of 1992 and was subsequently appointed Deputy Director of the White House Office of Presidential Scheduling and then Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs for U. S. Department of the Interior. She served President Clinton the full eight years of his Presidency.
Grace came back to Austin after serving in the White House and in 2001 became Special Projects and Events Director at GSD&M Advertising that included work with the Clinton Foundation, The Amazing Faith of Texas, and working with the Ad Council on the "I am an American" Campaign after 9/11. She left in 2009 to join Secretary Clinton at the State Department.
Grace became an early and active supporter of Senator Hillary Clinton when she announced her candidacy for President. After Barack Obama's election, she joined Secretary of State Clinton at the State Department as Senior Advisor in the Office of the Chief of Protocol. While there, she helped coordinate Secretary Clinton's worldwide travels and diplomatic initiatives.
Leaving the Obama Administration in 2013, she returned to Austin to direct Annie's List, an organization dedicated to the advancement of women. In only her first year she had transformed the organization with the help of her board into a powerful and effective advocate for women and their candidacy for elected office throughout Texas.
She leaves behind her mother Alicia Ortiz Garcia; brother, David R. Garcia; the love of her life, her nephew, Cole D. Garcia; her longtime companion, Jorge Haynes; her devoted canine buddy, Freckles, and a host of friends, fans and supporters across the nation and around the world.
A memorial service in celebration and remembrance of Grace will be at 1:30 pm Friday, June 20th at University United Methodist Church, 24th and Guadalupe, Austin, Texas, the Rev. John Elford officiating. A service is also being planned at the Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington D.C. at a later date.
Published in Austin American-Statesman from June 15 to June 20, 2014