Manuel J. Cortez, better known by family, friends, and associates throughout the Southern Nevada community as “Manny”, was a longtime Las Vegan, a man for whom the words “public service” had a deep resonance. Mr. Cortez was a native of Las Cruces, New Mexico. He moved to Las Vegas with his family in 1944, at the age of five. After graduating from Las Vegas High School and serving three years in the Army, he returned to Las Vegas to further his education at Nevada Southern University.
Mr. Cortez began his public service with the Clark County District Attorney’s office, and subsequently the office of the Clark County Public Defender. In 1973, he was appointed by Governor Mike O’Callaghan to serve as Administrator of the State of Nevada Taxicab Authority. In 1976, he was elected to the office of Clark County Commissioner and served four terms.
On July 2, 1991 Mr. Cortez began his appointment as President and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA). In January 1995, Tour and Travel News Magazine named Mr. Cortez one of the 25 most influential tourist executives in the industry. Other awards and honors include; American society of Public Administrators 1994 Administrator of the Year, and 1996 U.S./Domestic Person of the Year by Travel Agent magazine for having the strongest impact on worldwide tourism.
Mr. Cortez was active in a variety of organizations in Southern Nevada that directly benefited children. He was past president of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Las Vegas, and served on its advisory board. He served on the Board of Directors of the local Boy Scouts of America. He served on the board of Directors of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Southern Nevada and the committee for Boys Town. In 1995, Mr. Cortez and the LVCVA, in conjunction with the Clark County School District, developed an Academy of Travel and Tourism magnet school at Valley High School. Mr. Cortez also served on the advisory board for the children’s Advocacy Alliance since its inception in 1997.
Mr. Cortez passed away June 18, 2006. However, his memory lives strong with his family and through the Las Vegas community which he served for many years.