Featured: Gov. Greg Abbott and Mario Lizcano, Administrator of Community Engagement and Corporate Affairs for DHR Health, pose for a photographer during a visit to the Rio Grande Valley by the governor for the emergency management meeting during the summer of 2018 in Edinburg in the conference room of the Hidalgo County Health Department.
Photograph Courtesy MARIO LIZCANO
Mario Lizcano, DHR Health’s corporate affairs chief, a key leader of hospital system’s proven dedication of service to the people of South Texas
If the dictionary defined the words “public service” by using Mario Lizcano as the model, the phrase “one willing and able to run into a burning building to rescue you,” certainly could be used.
Not only does Lizcano, Administrator of Community Engagement and Corporate Affairs for DHR Health, have the expertise and courage to pull off such a feat as he was a volunteer firefighter for Mission and a certified Emergency Medical Technician for many years, his willingness to help South Texans improve their life extends to more than a dozen other worthwhile efforts.
Coming up with strategies to help communities create more jobs, protect children from violence, provide affordable housing for working families, educate people about developing healthy lifestyles and champion the best interests of veterans, senior citizens and Valleyites with disabilities is one of the ways he defends and promotes his fellow Texans.
“Mario Lizcano, such as many other volunteers in the Valley, is an outstanding symbol of a Texan who selflessly helps individuals, private organizations, and local governments in my House District 40,” said Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, Chair, House Committee on Transportation. “DHR Health employees always give back to their communities in important ways, and Mario does his part by leading by example.”
DHR Health is a physician-owned health system and the only locally owned and operated hospital left in Hidalgo and Cameron counties. Anchored in southwest Edinburg, with a growing presence in neighboring McAllen, DHR Health offers some of the most comprehensive medical care on the U.S. southern border, with more than 1,400 nurses and 650+ physicians providing care in 70+ specialties and sub-specialties.
Additionally, DHR Health is the flagship teaching hospital for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) School of Medicine, and encompasses a general acute hospital with the only dedicated women’s hospital South of San Antonio, a rehabilitation hospital, a behavioral hospital, more than 60 clinics Valley wide, advanced cancer services, the only transplant program in the Rio Grande Valley – and the only functioning 24/7 Level 1 Trauma Center south of San Antonio.
“The focus of DHR Health, being the only remaining locally owned and operated health care system in the area, is to be involved in the forefront of our community,” Lizcano said. “We balance our duties on providing awareness and information of service lines with the community through our presence and participation at local events.”
Throughout his history of being a servant of the people, Lizcano wears many hats at the same time.
He currently serves as Chairman of the City of Edinburg Census Committee, Chairman of the Board for the Greater Pharr Chamber of Commerce, and Vice President of the Pharr Economic Development Corporation – and that doesn’t include his volunteer service on more than a dozen other organizations.
With so many worthwhile organizations and causes in the Valley, he explains how he decides where to invest his expertise and time.
“I look at a regional approach with emphasis on promoting health care through awareness, information and support, at the same time empowering communities through economic stimulus to provide and create workforce opportunities,” Lizcano said.
Ronnie Larralde, Executive Director, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, marvels not only at the time that Lizcano invests in volunteer services, but is also pleased on how Lizcano – who is a member of the group’s board of directors – sets high goals for himself and his colleagues with the organization.
“Mario is our Public Affairs Liaison, and through his extensive business and political knowledge and connections, he helps make sure we always have a proverbial seat at the table of power,” Larralde pointed out. “He knows Edinburg is blessed with tremendously influential people, and he works with them on behalf of our city and region.”
Among the key priorities of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce issues which are being shaped by Lizcano are continuously advocating for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and its School of Medicine, which are anchored in Edinburg. Coordinating efforts to increase the accuracy of the upcoming US Census in Edinburg is also on the top list of priorities for the city. The Census is a population count that determines where hundreds of millions of dollars are allocated from state and federal funding for crucial services in education, health care, transportation, and public safety.
Lizcano demonstrated the goodwill he enjoys with elected leaders on Thursday, February 7, 2019, by bringing together a rarity in South Texas – a public luncheon featuring the county judges for Hidalgo, Cameron and Starr counties – to launch a regional approach to achieving a more accurate Census in 2020.
The Census affects our community in many ways, ranging from highways, schools, public safety and health care,” Lizcano explained in advance of the gathering, titled “RGV Census Forum”, held at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance. “The vision is to inform, involve and educate chamber investors and civic leaders on the importance of the census.”
As required by the U.S. Constitution, America has one chance each decade to count its population. The U.S. Census is mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution and takes place every 10 years. The data collected by the decennial census determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives (a process called apportionment) and is also used to distribute billions in federal funds to local communities.
Lizcano has deep roots in other communities in Hidalgo County, including being born in McAllen, raised in Pharr, attending UT Pan American and UT-San Antonio, having ties to Mission, in addition to working with DHR Health in Edinburg.
But Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernández, MD, Chief Medical Compliance Officer, DHR Health, is quick to claim hometown pride, emphasizing that Lizcano “is a PSJA graduate. We have known each other for decades.”
Mario is an important standard-bearerfor economic growth in Pharr, which is nicknamed “Hub City” for being a hub (center) of transportation for the region and a major gateway for business generated by NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement).
Lizcano serves as Vice President, Board of Directors, Pharr Economic Development Corporation, which is the primary economic development agency for the City of Pharr.
“In Pharr, our goal is to facilitate business attraction and retention, local investments, tourism development, and marketing strategy for our city. By fostering long-term relationships with government officials, industry leaders, and stakeholders in our community, the Pharr EDC examines potential opportunities to develop key industries and promote future economic growth. We also support community development and promote Pharr’s thriving economy and superior quality of life,” according to the organization’s website. (http://pharredc.com)
The Pharr mayor adds that Lizcano’s achievements in his personal life, professional career, and volunteer service are as impressive as his strength of character.
“Honesty. Integrity. Passion. Speaks his mind, stands his ground, not easily persuaded by outside forces,” Hernández describes Lizcano. “With his intellect, he can get to the point quickly, plus he runs in circles that open doors for us. In business and politics, he is very well integrated in those worlds.”
In all his volunteer efforts, Lizcano generously shares the credit for all successes with the people with whom he works, such as the PEDC.
“With the leadership, guidance and expertise of Mayor Hernández, we are looking at future developments that will make the highway interchange (I-2 at I-69) in Pharr benefit our city’s growth and access to all of the Valley,” he said. “Our goals for the City of Pharr also include the development of education growth that will benefit the region.”
Alonzo Cantú, one of the founders of DHR Health, and member of the DHR Health Board of Managers, commends Lizcano for his volunteerism.
“Mario is one of our top people at the local level. He is very involved in social responsibilities, and in political activities,” Cantú explained, adding that Lizcano is part of a renowned advocacy team for DHR Health that includes Roberto Haddad (Vice President and Counsel for Government Affairs and Policy at DHR Health), and Jesse Ozuna (Government Affairs Officer at DHR Health).”
Haddad works federal issues in Congress and legislation at the state level, Ozuna handles legislation at the state level, and Lizcano focuses on regional and local matters for DHR Health.
“They do a great job together,” Cantú said.
Lizcano heaps praise on Haddad and Ozuna, noting those two men excel at the state and national legislative levels, as well as here at home. What they do in Austin and Washington, D.C. tremendously benefits all of us in the Valley.
“I’m a strong believer in that famous political phrase that ‘all politics is local,” which means that folksare most concerned about issues that affect their personal lives and home communities,” Lizcano said. “For me, politics means public service, volunteering with the exceptional residents of our area to make a difference for the benefit of people from all walks of life.
“As Albert Einstein so brilliantly put it: ‘Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile’,” Lizcano said.
Lizcano was born in McAllen, grew up in Pharr, and graduated from Pharr-San Juan- Alamo High School in 1987.
He attended the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, Texas and the University of Texas-San Antonio. Lizcano holds a Bachelors of Business Administration degree with a major in Marketing and a minor in Biology/Chemistry.
He has one daughter, Marlee Rennae, who graduated from Sharyland High School and received her Bachelor Degree in Business Administration from the University of Houston.
Lizcano served as a Volunteer Firefighter with the rank of Rescue Captain for the Mission Fire Department for 15 years. He has also been a volunteer firefighter in the city of Pharr and Palmview, with a combined volunteer fire service of more than 20 years.
Lizcano served as the President for the Rio Grande Valley Firefighters and Fire Marshals Association (representing Fire Departments from Brownsville to Zapata) for six years. He was a certified Emergency Medical Technician through the Texas Department of Health and serves as an instructor for the Texas Extension Service from Texas A&M Fire Schools.
Lizcano has been named the Volunteer Fire Fighter of the Year for the City of Mission twice in his career and has been honored as the Firefighter of the Year for the Rio Grande Valley chosen by all local fire departments from Roma to Brownsville for his efforts in fire protection and fire prevention.
Lizcano has been named the Runner-Up for the Firefighter of the Year for the State of Texas (competing with all Fire Departments from all over the State of Texas. For his efforts in obtaining lifesaving devices (AED defibrillators) for surrounding rural fire departments through a federal grant, he was recognized by the American Heart Association and a research grant has been named in his honor at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.
Lizcano was named the Diplomat of the Year by the Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce and has been recognized by local organizations, schools, and clubs for his relentless efforts in the community.
He presently serves on the board for Guns and Hoses of McAllen, which is dedicated to assisting the families of fallen first responders who have lost their life in the line of duty, and as a Civil Service Commission for the City of Pharr, serving as an advocate for public employees.
Lizcano also donates countless hours promoting and bringing awareness to the importance of health care, education and community service.
He has been recognized by DHR Health for exemplary volunteer community service hours and is honored to be employed as Administrator of Community Engagement and Corporate Affairs.
Lizcano was named the “Man of the Year” by the Rio Grande Valley Humanities during the Governor’s Ball for his volunteer services provided to the community and was recognized by the Texas Governor with a proclamation in his name.
Lizcano believes in serving others and is known for running in a 5k in full firefighter gear to raise money for others. He has helped and volunteered in more than 500 events throughout the Rio Grande Valley and the State of Texas.
Lizcano is the founding Chairman of the Board for the newly created Greater Pharr Chamber of Commerce and has recently founded the City of Pharr Economic Development Foundation that will begin in the Fall of 2019 to promote economic development, financial literacy and workforce training for the region.
PRESENT BOARD MEMBERSHIP
- Chairman, Greater Pharr Chamber of Commerce
- Chairman, City of Edinburg Census Committee
- Vice President, Pharr Economic Development Corporation
- Vice President of Public Affairs, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce
- Vice Chairman, Civil Service, City of Pharr
- Vice Chairman, PSJA ISD C.A.T.E. Committee
- Vice Chairman, Hope Family Health Center
- Commissioner, Pharr Housing Authority
- Ambassador, Advocacy Alliance Center of Texas (AACT)
- Community Board Member, United Blood Services (Vitalant)
- Board Member, Pharr Golf Advisory Committee
- Board Member, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Athletic Council
- Board Member, Hidalgo County Health Services
- Board Member, Easter Seals Society
- Board Member, Guns and Hoses Advisory
- Advisory Board Member, La Joya ISD Health Careers High School
PAST BOARD MEMBERSHIP
- President, Rio Grande Valley Fire Fighters and Fire Marshals Association
- President/Member, Mission Lions Club
- President, University of Texas Pan American Athletic Fund Board
- Chairman, Mission Boys and Girls Club
- Chairman, PSJA ISD C.A.T.E. Committee
- Founding Board Member, Children’s Advocacy Center (Estrella’s House
- Rescue Captain/Volunteer Firefighter, Mission Volunteer Fire Department
- Board Member, Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- Advisory Board Member, McAllen ISD Education Foundation
- Board Member, CASA of Hidalgo County
- Board Member, Comfort House
- Board Member, ACE Club (Assisting and Caring for Everyone)
- Board Member, American Heart Association RGV Chapter
- Board Member, Rio Grande Valley Partnership
- Board Member, Mission Chamber of Commerce
- Board Member, Pharr Volunteer Fire Department
- Palmview Volunteer Fire Department
- Board Member, City of Mission Ambulance Committee
- Board Member, Teach for America
- Leadership Class I, RGV Partnership
- Pharr Leadership Program
- Mission Leadership Program
- Edinburg Leadership Program
For more information, please contact Roberto Haddad, Vice President and Counsel for Government Affairs and Policy at DHR Health, or Jesse Ozuna, Government Affairs Officer at DHR Health, at 956/362-7165. For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories which affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (TitansoftheTexasLegislature.com).