The Art of Public Service

Usually we use this space to talk about important or interesting developments in stem cell research. Developments that help increase our understanding of how stem cells work and how we can use them to develop much-needed treatments for a wide variety of diseases and disorders. But every once in a while it’s good to stand back and take a moment to appreciate the people who work hard to make all of this possible. I don’t just mean the researchers and the scientists; I’m also talking about our tireless staff. And in this case, I’m talking about one in particular, Art Torres.

Our Board Vice Chair and tireless patient advocate, Art Torres

Our Board Vice Chair and tireless patient advocate, Art Torres

Art is having a truly remarkable career, one that shows no sign of slowing down. He started out as a community organizer, worked with the legendary Cesar Chavez and then went on to serve 20 years in the state legislature (8 in the Assembly, 12 in the Senate) before becoming the Chairman of the California Democratic Party.

He joined the stem cell agency in 2009 as both a patient advocate (he’s a colon cancer survivor) and as the Vice-Chair of our governing Board, the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee.

In 2010 he was sworn in by then Mayor Gavin Newsom to a four-year term on San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission.

And as if all that isn’t enough, he has now agreed to be a Trustee for the University of California Santa Cruz Foundation Board. He was elected, unanimously, by the other Board members to serve in a leadership role to help support what the Foundation’s website calls “the university’s vision of academic excellence and its commitment to public service.”

It’s not too surprising really that Art would take on this latest challenge. UC Santa Cruz is his alma mater and he rarely wastes an opportunity to cheer on the “Slugs” as they are affectionately known.

So it’s appropriate that as we celebrate the 4th of July we celebrate and honor Art for his devotion to public service. Long may it continue.

kevin mccormack

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