Christopher Cortez, Class of 1971
Leader and Motivator
Upon graduation from Marietta College in 1971 with a degree in Spanish, Chris entered the United State Marine Corps. He was commissioned via the Platoon Leaders Program and since then has served on several operational tours including an assignment as Director for Operations, U.S. Pacific Command from 2000-2002.
Chris served with the 7th Marines and 3d Marines during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. As a Lieutenant Colonel, he commanded 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, a reinforced infantry battalion of 1,352 men, which was among the first units in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War. Chris went on to become one of only three Hispanics to attain the rank of two-star general in the 230-year history of the Corps before retiring in Dec 2004. In his final tour as Commanding General of the Marine Corps Recruiting Command in Quantico, Virginia, using his unique perspectives and position, he promoted the Marine Corps’ message of opportunity to minority recruits and under his leadership the command exceeded every recruiting goal on an annual basis.
In September 2006, Chris joined Microsoft Corporation as the Managing Director, Worldwide Government Industry and currently he is General Manager for Strategic Operations, Public Sector, Americas and Asia Pacific.
The first in his family to be born in America after his parents migrated to the United States from Spain, his parents sacrificed a great deal for him and for his six siblings. Recognizing that effort and commitment on their part, he has chosen to contribute back to his community as an advocate for education and aspiration. His powerful message has transformed him into one of the country’s most highly sought-after motivational speakers at diversity events.