Phoenix native Laura Pastor is a fifth-generation Arizonan who graduated from St. Mary’s High School and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in education from Arizona State University. Her grandparents and great-grandparents worked in Eastern Arizona’s mining communities, and both her parents began their careers as classroom teachers.
For four years, Laura was also a classroom teacher in the Roosevelt and Isaac Elementary School Districts, working primarily with at-risk students. During that time, she created a volunteer program to provide after-school tutoring, and authored an accountability program for teachers, students, and parents.
In 1999, Laura attended a master’s program at Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs, City University of New York. As part of this program, Laura relocated to Chicago for her master’s practicum with the Board of Education at Chicago Public Schools. There, she organized the National Conference for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans in Chicago and designed and implemented Theater in Public Schools. She also participated in the creation of the Global Educators Outreach. In 2000 Laura received her Master of Public Administration degree and joined the City of Chicago’s Office of Language and Cultural Education as the project director for Mayor Richard M. Daley’s innovative initiative Museums and Public Schools (MAPS). Since then, Laura has served as the Special Assistant to the Arizona Director of Insurance, and as a training coordinator for the Department of Employment and Rehabilitation Services at the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) as a training coordinator.
Currently Laura is Director of the nationally recognized Achieving a College Education Program (ACE) at South Mountain Community College. ACE is dedicated to assisting students in their transition from high school through community college and on to earning a bachelor’s degree. In addition to working directly with students on their post-secondary plans, Laura oversees all fiscal and administrative management of the program — including the coordination, implementation, and outreach of ACE initiatives. She is charged with creating partnerships among national, state, and municipal agencies as well as private sector organizations.
Laura is a member of the Phoenix Union High School District Board, where she has been a strong advocate for strategic planning for the District. On the Phoenix City Council, Laura is chair of the City Council Parks, Arts, Transparency & Education Subcommittee and serves on the following subcommittees: Neighborhoods, Housing & Development, Public Safety & Veterans and Transparency and Infrastructure. She also serves on the O’Connor House Speak Out Against Domestic Violence and Mi Familia Vota advisory boards.
Laura resides in Phoenix with her husband, Henry Cotto, a former major league baseball player and current minor league coach. They have four children, Henry Jr., Claudia, Eduardo and Sophia.