Keynote

Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramirez
Featured Speaker

California Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Lourdes Castro Ramírez to serve as Secretary of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency effective March 2, 2020. She is charged with leading and overseeing departments responsible for fostering an equitable and inclusive California by: licensing and regulating over four million professionals, businesses, and financial services; funding and facilitating the preservation and expansion of safe, affordable housing; advancing statewide collaborative efforts to prevent and end homelessness; and guarding civil rights against employment and housing discrimination.

In 2020, Secretary Castro Ramírez was integral in guiding policy during the COVID-19 pandemic serving on the Housing and Social Services Task Force, and on Governor Newsom’s Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery, where she was co-chair of the Financial Systems and Infrastructure Subcommittee. She took a hands-on approach to meeting the moment to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and worked closely with the departments she oversees to do the same.

Under her leadership, the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) was able to issue 102 waivers and extensions under the terms of Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-39-20, which authorized DCA to waive certain professional licensing requirements and amend scopes of practice and accompanying regulations for the duration of the declared state of emergency pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of these waivers, pharmacies, pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians were able to order, collect specimens for, and perform COVID-19 tests. Another waiver allowed pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 Vaccines.

Castro Ramírez is an accomplished executive dedicated to building partnerships and leading public, private and philanthropic efforts to improve community and system-level housing, health, business, economic and educational opportunities. She has held notable and prominent positions including being appointed by President Barack Obama to lead the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Public and Indian Housing.

Castro Ramírez was President of the University Health System Foundation which is dedicated to advancing the medical, educational and research goals and improving the health and wellbeing of the people of San Antonio and South Texas. She is a 2020 San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame Inductee and a proud wife and mother of three children.

Castro Ramírez earned her master’s degree in Urban Planning and bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Chicano Studies at UCLA.