Engineering alum selected for Haas award
de la Libertad, B.S. CE ’93, won the 2002 Peter E. Haas
Public Service Award for his service to low-income communities
and small businesses in Southern California.
Not your typical banking professional, Armando de la Libertad
(B.S. CE ’93) has other things on his mind than high finance
or the global market. On any given day you might find him developing
new housing construction for low-income families or working with
non-profits to raise scholarship funds for young Hispanics.
His public service record earned him the 2002 Peter E. Haas Public
Service Award, one of Berkeley’s most prestigious honors,
to be presented at a ceremony on Cal Day April 12. The award recognizes
a Cal alumnus "who has made a significant public contribution
to the betterment of society," singling out grassroots efforts
like de la Libertad’s.
A resident of Orange County, de la Libertad is a vice president
for community development at Wells Fargo Bank specializing in
lending and investment programs that finance affordable housing,
serve small businesses, and revitalize low-income communities.
He is also chair of the Orange County Hispanic Education Endowment
Fund, a community-based organization providing scholarships for
financially needy Hispanic students at all educational levels,
and an active board member of the Southern California branch of
the Engineering Alumni Society.
During his undergraduate years studying structural engineering,
de la Libertad tutored students at Berkeley High, an experience
that inspired a change in his career path.
"I enjoyed the math and science aspect of engineering, but
I wanted to use my skills in a unique way to help impact public
policy," he says. "The tutoring exposed me to the educational
and economic needs of a diverse population and sparked my interest
in working to open doors for others."
The Haas award carries a cash prize of $20,000 and a $20,000 donation
to the recipient’s charity of choice. De la Libertad plans
to use part of his award to start a scholarship fund to finance
vocational or college training for victims of domestic violence.
A child of Mexican immigrants, he pursued a master’s in
public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School. During his first
year working for Wells Fargo, he helped double the bank’s
local economic development investment portfolio. His work with
community lending and investment programs has brought needed cash
flow and affordable housing to neighborhoods throughout Orange
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