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Social Justice Advocate Robert García American Public Health Association’s Presidential Citation Award

Founding Director of The City Project Earns Prestigious Public Health Honor

November 9, 2010

DENVER — Robert García, founding director and counsel of the Los Angeles-based nonprofit The City Project, has received the American Public Health Association’s prestigious Presidential Citation, recognizing García’s work empowering underserved communities throughout California.

Past recipients of the award include Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Ralph Nader, and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

A passionate proponent for social justice, “García is an internationally recognized attorney who engages, educates and empowers communities to achieve equal access to public resources, especially public recreational fields,” according to the Citation.

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Robert García with Raul Macias, President and Founder of Anahuak Youth Sports Association

Under García’s direction, The City Project has worked to achieve equal justice, democracy, and livability for all.

The City Project is a national leader in advocating for the investment of public resources to achieve results that are equitable, enhance human health and the environment, and promote economic vitality for all communities. The City Project has influenced the investment of over $20 billion dollars in underserved communities, working at the intersection of social justice, sustainable regional planning, and social determinants of health.

American Public Health Association President Carmen R. Nevarez presented the award to García at the APHA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, on November 9, 2010.

“Robert García is an outstanding and committed leader who understands that efforts to influence the public’s health must be carried out on a grand scale and require the engagement of many disciplines,” said Nevarez. “He successfully employs the tools of community organizing and coalition building, multidisciplinary research and analysis, strategic media campaigns as well as policy and legal advocacy inside and outside the courts. García creatively engages opponents to find common ground.”

The APHA Presidential Citation is not awarded every year, but only on occasions of unusual merit.

“Public health and the built environment are a civil rights issue, and fundamentally an issue of human rights,” García said.  “Children of color and low income children disproportionately lack safe places to play at home, in parks and in schools. They lack quality education and physical education.  They have fewer healthy places to eat.  They suffer from the highest levels of childhood obesity.  They are at the greatest risk for dropping out, gangs, violence and crime.”

“We are fighting to help children move more, eat well, stay healthy and do their best in school and in life,” García continued. “It is a profound and humbling honor to receive the President’s Award from the American Public Health Association for our work on behalf of unpopular people in unpopular causes.”

Using the tools of public health, The City Project has mapped and analyzed access to parks and recreation throughout California by race, ethnicity, poverty and income, using GIS [Geographic Information Systems] tools, census data and the lessons of history.  The City Project has published evidence-based social science research on how California came to be the way it is, and how it could be better for all. These are best practice examples for the nation.

García’s remarks in accepting the award will be published in the forthcoming book edited by Barry Levy and Joyce Gaufin entitled Mastering Public Health: Essential Skills for Effective Practice.

García is a graduate of Stanford University and Stanford Law School, where he served on the Board of Editors of the Stanford Law Review. Hispanic Business Magazine recognized him as one of the 100 most influential Latinos in the United States in 2008. He has received numerous awards, including the President’s Award from the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice.

Click here to see the complete citation.

Click here to see previous award recipients.

About The City Project:


The City Project helps bring people together to define the kind of community where they want to live and raise children. The City Project works with diverse coalitions in strategic campaigns to shape public policy and law, and to serve the needs of the community as defined by the community.

Children with Robert Garcia

Los Angeles State Historic Park at the Cornfield Inaugural Event

More information about The City Project’s work is available on their web site at