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2013 NEA President’s Award


Ed Pastor was born in the small mining town of Claypool, Arizona to Enrique and Margarita Pastor. His father was a miner and laborer, his mother a housecleaner. Neither had graduated from high school. But they held high expectations for their children and impressed on them the importance of education.

While most of Ed Pastor’s peers were expected to either work in the mines or join the military, he kept up his grades and took a paper route with the hope of earning a scholarship for newspaper carriers. With the Arizona Republic and Regent scholarships in hand, Ed Pastor became the first member of his family to attend college. He graduated from Arizona State University (ASU) with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Chemistry.

Then, Ed Pastor desire to "give back" kicked in. He took a position as a teacher at North High School in Phoenix where he taught chemistry for several years. Pastor went on to serve as the Deputy Director of a non-profit, community-based organization, where he worked to educate adults who were migrant and seasonal farm workers.

Ed Pastor's experience with young people, adults and families motivated him to enroll in ASU's College of Law. He received his Juris Doctorate. In 1976, Ed Pastor was elected to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. After serving three terms, he ran for the Congressional seat vacated by the late Mo Udall. He was elected to serve the people of what was then Arizona's Second Congressional District. After redistricting, he became the Representative of the Fourth Congressional District.

As a Congressman, Pastor has never forgotten his parents or the people he grew up with or the students he once taught. He is a leader of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, has earned a 100 percent voting record on protecting and supporting children (Children's Defense Fund), and has been instrumental in securing federal funds for community colleges and scholarships for poor young people.

Rep. Pastor is a champion of The Dream Act which supports a pathway to citizenship for aspiring young people who were brought to the U.S. as children, raised in this country, have done well in school, and have expressed a clear commitment to pursue higher education or the military. But Rep. Pastor’s commitment to the Dreamers hasn't ended there. His Phoenix office intervenes on behalf of individual Dreamers who have been arrested for being undocumented and are about to be deported. The window of time for action is a narrow one, and Pastor's Congressional Office has saved numerous Dreamers from deportation. Only one other Congressional Office (Senator Durban's) provides this service.

Often invited to speak to poor and Hispanic students, Rep. Pastor's message is a clear one: "You may not be responsible for being down, but you are responsible for getting up. So whatever your state in life is right now, this is an opportunity to get up."