Philly Super-Scholar Possible Obama Pick

Philadelphia Judge Nelson Diaz is on the brink of the job of his life.

Diaz, who served as city solicitor under Mayor John F. Street, is among a handful of high-profile Latinos rumored to be possible picks to serve as secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President-elect Barack Obama.

Having spent four years in Washington with the Clinton administration, former Common Pleas Court Judge Nelson Diaz may return for a second extended stay.

Like President-elect Barack Obama, Diaz did not have a privelaged up bringing.

He grew up in public housing in Harlem, New York.

Despite the odds Diaz continues to climb the ladder of success here in Philadelphia.

He earned a J.D. from Temple University in 1972--the first to receive that degree at that University.

Prior to that he graduated from Saint John’s University in New York City with a B.S. in accounting in 1969, having worked his way through school.

He has served as Of Counsel to Cozen O'Connor, a Philadelphia based law firm, since May 2007. Diaz also served as Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, from 1981 to 1993.

A director of Exelon since January 27, 2004, Diaz serves on the risk oversight, energy delivery oversight and generation oversight committees.

He also serves as a director of PECO Energy Company, an Exelon subsidiary.

Diaz founded the first organization devoted to black and Hispanic law students at Temple University while he was a student there, and he has been a member of Temple's Board of Trustees since 1992.

Having been the first Puerto Rican to be admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar Association in 1973, he later succeeded Cesar R. Miranda as executive director for the [[Spanish Merchants Association of Philadelphia]], a self-help group for Hispanics who own or aspire to own businesses.

His board and committee memberships include the Free Library of Philadelphia (1982-1993), the Philadelphia Independent Charter Commission (1992-1993), and the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia (1997-2002), and the Pan American Association (2001- ). [6] He also served as General Counsel, United States Department of Housing and Urban Affairs, from 1993 to 1997.

Nelson Diaz's candidacy got a boost Nov. 24, when the chairman of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which represents nearly three million Hispanic-owned businesses, recommended him for the job.

In a letter to U.S. Rep. Joe Baca of California, who chairs the Hispanic Congressional Caucus, chamber chairman David Lizarraga highlighted Diaz's judicial career and his achievements while serving as general counsel for HUD during President Bill Clinton's first term.

"Beyond his personal achievements, we believe Mr. Diaz exemplifies President-elect Obama's approach to public policy and has a facile, open mind that allows consideration of all solutions and all points of view," Lizarraga wrote.

Obama is expected to round out his administration appointments in the next few weeks.

Other potential candidiates include Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr., Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, and former Deputy HUD Secretary Saul Ramirez Jr.

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