Leadership Lessons of the White House Fellows – by Charles Garcia

Charles (“Charlie”) Garcia (WHF 88-89) is a social entrepreneur who founded Sterling Financial, a privately held financial services firm which he grew from three people to offices in seven countries and $2 billion in assets prior to selling it in 2005.  Currently, he is the CEO of ALPFA (the Association of Latino Professionals for America) whose mission is to empower and develop Latino men and women as leaders of character for the nation.  He also leads the South Florida TIGER 21 Chapter, a peer-to-peer network for ultrahigh-net-worth investors.  The nearly 500 TIGER 21 members collectively manage approximately $45 billion in investable assets.  He was selected TIGER 21 Chair of the Year in 2013 and 2015, from over 21 chairs in the U.S. and Canada.

Charlie serves on the national board of Junior Achievement, the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students on entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and work readiness.  Known as someone who thrives on building authentic relationships, Charlie was profiled by the Huffington Post as being one of the Top 20 most connected individuals in the world on LinkedIn which he leverages for the benefits of others.

From 2006-2011, Charlie was appointed by both President Bush and President Obama, as the Chairman of the Board of Visitors of the U.S. Air Force Academy, to oversee all operations at the Air Force Academy. In December 2011, the Secretary of the Air Force awarded him the Distinguished Public Service Medal for leading “a historic transformation of the Board of Visitors to ensure it operates more like a corporate board of directors.”  In June 2013, after being recommended by the leadership of the U.S. Air Force, he was awarded the Ernest T. Stewart Award for Alumni Volunteer Involvement for his 30 year record of service to his alma mater.

From 2001-2005, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush appointed him as one of seven members to the State Board of Education, overseeing all public education, where he led the Governor’s reading taskforce.  Florida’s ranking in reading for low-income fourth graders on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, better known as “the nation’s report card,” moved from the national cellar to first in the nation.

From 2003-2009, for his work on a congressionally mandated oversight panel, he was awarded the Director of National Intelligence Medallion for his leadership to foster diversity and inclusion within the Intelligence Community.  Charlie has a B.S. from the U.S. Air Force Academy; an M.P.A. from the University of Oklahoma; and a J.D. from Columbia Law School.  He was the first person in his class to publish an article in Columbia Law Review and it was cited as a must read in three legal categories by the National Law Journal.  He has authored two best-selling leadership books:  A Message from Garcia (John Wiley), and Leadership Lessons of the White House Fellows (McGraw Hill). He lives in Boca Raton, Florida with his wife Cristina and their four children.  Away from work, he is an avid soccer player and surfer, and he competitively races an 850 horsepower Dodge Viper.

Read an excerpt from Leadership Lessons of the White House Fellows by Charles Garcia.
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