Richard Cantu is a native Houstonian who grew up on Houston’s Northside, graduating with honors from Jeff Davis High School (now Northside HS). Richard is a Truman Scholar (TX-’92), earning an Associate’s Degree in Government from Houston Community College, a Bachelor’s in Political Science from the University of Houston, and his Master’s in Public Administration from the University of St. Thomas.
Richard is a 30 year public servant, having held management and executive level positions at the City of Houston (Parks and Recreation Department & Mayor’s Office), and Baker-Ripley (formerly Neighborhood Centers Inc.). In May of 2000, Richard was appointed Director of the Mayor’s Citizens’ Assistance Office (MCAO), where he served for six years under Mayor Lee P. Brown and Mayor Bill White. Joining the East Aldine Management District in 2008, and in his current role of Executive Director, Richard oversees one of the largest management district’s in Harris County.
Elected county-wide in 2018, Richard is President of the Harris County Department of Education Board of Trustees. He also currently serves on the boards of the Greens Bayou Coalition, Aldine Education Foundation (as past president), and Lone Star College Foundation. He is a Fellow of the American Leadership Forum (Class LII), a graduate of Leadership North Houston, and of both the Houston Police Department and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office – Citizens’ Police Academy. A founding advisory board member of the Lone Star College Law Enforcement Academy, he also serves on the Leadership North Houston Advisory Board. He is past president of the Hawthorne Place Civic Club and served as Precinct Chairman for over 20 years. Richard has managed several successful political campaigns, including Aldine ISD’s 2015 ($798 Million) Bond Election. Past community associations (board service) include HISD North District Advisory Council, HCC Northeast College Advisory Council, Wesley House Community Center, MD Anderson YMCA, Houston Food Bank, Houston Intercontinental Chamber of Commerce, North Harris County Education Alliance, and Hardy-Near Northside Redevelopment Authority (TIRZ 21).
Throughout his career, Richard has been instrumental in efforts that have led to cleaner and safer neighborhoods, developed positive paths to the future for our youth, and built capacity amongst the community’s leadership. Richard has been a role model for his family and community of what it means to be an active and engaged citizen, of how everybody can make a difference in improving our quality of life, and of how through education we can increase hope amongst those striving for a brighter future.