Degrees and Certifications:
Graciana "Graci" Garces
Graciana “Graci” Garces is a resolute public servant who has prioritized the progress of communities across the state for more than two decades. Her work as a public affairs professional in both public and nonprofit sectors puts her at the forefront of numerous Houston community-empowerment initiatives. In all facets of work, she attributes her impact to the power of partnerships and collaboration.
Garces’ tireless commitment to advocating for equity through systemic changes is rooted in her philosophy to finding common ground. She has been instrumental in building consensus for policy like the contentious expansion of the 2005 smoking ban in Houston, which led to her recruitment as the Grassroots Director for the Smoke Free Texas Coalition where she gained bi-partisan support.
In 2013, Garces ran for Houston City Council. After losing by 183 votes in a low turnout run-off election, Garces heightened her commitment to civic engagement in the non-profit sector. She leveraged her experience and knowledge to spearhead BakerRipley’s expansion in civic engagement. Under her leadership, close to three hundred people from diverse neighborhoods across the area graduated from the BakerRipley Community Engineers Leadership Program and the organization tripled its impact in voter engagement with a concentration in low propensity precincts. That is three times the people leading civic engagement conversations in their communities, advocating for the dismantling of systems that create inequity and holding decision makers accountable.
Garces has cultivated and leveraged partnerships to secure the necessary resources to complement the mission of the organization to provide resources, education, and connection to more than half a million people annually. She built and led a high performing team that secured approximately $400 million in contracts and grants in one year alone, reignited volunteer engagement (post COVID 19 pandemic), and served as a consultant on government relations to the C-Suite, regularly providing strategic guidance that balanced bold leadership and cautious approaches against any risks to the organization’s public contracts.
Garces earned her Master of Public Affairs degree from the University of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs and her Bachelor of Arts degree from Texas State University. She serves on the League of Women Voters of Houston Board of Directors, is a Houston in Action Steering Committee Member, was part of the Morehouse School of Medicine National COVID-19 Resiliency Network National Community Coalition, and served as Co-Chair of the Harris Houston Census Complete Count Community Subcommittee. She strives to set an example as a strong Latina and dedicated public servant for her daughter, Zyenna Dahni and son, Zekiel Anthony.