AVANCE Leader Promoted To Brigadier General

By on June 30, 2015

Joins Mission: Readiness to combat youth challenges

AVANCE’s President and CEO Richard J. “Rick” Noriega has been promoted to brigadier general in the Army National Guard of the United States by order of the secretary of the Army. In his traditional guardsman capacity, he is now the assistant division commander-support for the 36th Infantry Division.

In Noriega’s civilian role, he leads AVANCE, Inc., a national nonprofit based in San Antonio dedicated to unlocking America’s potential by strengthening families in at-risk communities through effective parent education and support programs.

“I am honored to have been promoted,” said Noriega. “This recognition goes out to my family, friends, brothers and sisters in arms, colleagues and community.  I see this as an opportunity to not only serve my state and country, but also as an opportunity to stress the urgency and importance of family engagement and early childhood education to our nation’s future.”

Since his promotion, Noriega was selected to join Mission: Readiness and assist as an instrumental and active voice for millions of children across the country. Mission: Readiness is the nonpartisan national security organization of senior retired military leaders calling for smart investments in America’s children. It operates under the umbrella of the nonprofit Council for a Strong America. The organization was formed to address the national security threat posed by the fact that 71 percent of all 17- to 24-year-olds are unqualified for military service. This organization invests in the three largest obstacles: education, fitness and criminal records. Noriega will join many other powerful voices including over 500 retired admirals, generals and other retired senior military leaders calling for smart investments on America’s children.

“Along with AVANCE’s National Board of Directors, I am pleased to congratulate Rick on this prestigious promotion to General,” said Olga Llamas Rodriguez, AVANCE National Board Chair. “Not only does this recognize his 35 years of dedicated military service and leadership, but it gives him another platform to promote the cause so close to our hearts and so important to the future of our country, our military and our workforce – the education of young children and families. AVANCE is proud to have such a strong leader at the helm.”

Noriega’s military career began as a private in 1980 and he has since progressed through the ranks, eventually graduating from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College. He was appointed to serve on the Military Leadership Diversity Commission that produced the report that led to change in the role of women in combat for the U.S. Armed Forces. In Afghanistan, Noriega commanded the Kabul Military Training Center for Afghan forces during Operation Enduring Freedom. Afterward, he was selected by Mayor Bill White as incident commander of Houston’s Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. His leadership was crucial in transforming the George R. Brown Convention Center into a virtual city that cared for nearly 30,000 evacuees and was dismantled within a month. In 2006, Noriega commanded the Laredo Border Sector, Operation Jumpstart, working with U.S. Border Patrol.

Noriega’s involvement in the public sector has gone beyond the battlefield and into the halls of the Texas Legislature. Before joining AVANCE, Noriega served more than five consecutive terms at the Texas House of Representatives where he introduced and authored the Texas Dream Act.  The bill made Texas the first state to offer in-state tuition rates and financial assistance for immigrant children and started a national movement. Today, many states have similar laws, providing access to higher education to thousands. His passion for educational policy reform and history of success will benefit AVANCE and the community it serves for years to come.

A Houston native with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston and a master’s in Public Administration from Harvard University, Noriega holds a certificate in Advanced International Affairs from the Bush School of Government at Texas A & M University, and completed the U.S. Army War College Fellowship at the University of Texas. He serves on Temple University’s Responsible Fatherhood Network Steering Committee as well as the Advisory Board for the University of Texas at San Antonio’s College of Public Policy.

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