“If we are to be the future, then we have to take the future in our own hands.”
(Editor's note: October is LGBT History Month, celebrated annually to recognize the notable achievements of LGBT people throughout time. Each day this month, Equality Forum will feature one LGBT icon who has made notable contributions to society and SDLGBTN will publish their story. View previous LGBT History Month icons HERE.)
Henry Reuben Muñoz III is an architectural designer, an activist and a philanthropist. In 2013 he became the first Latinx and first openly gay national finance chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
Muñoz was born in San Antonio, Texas, where his father was an established Latinx labor organizer and civil rights activist. As a child, Muñoz attended many protests. Those experiences helped shape his conviction that the American dream should be available to all.
Muñoz attended Loyola University, where he now sits on the Board of Trustees. In 1983 he joined Jones & Kell, one of the country’s oldest minority-owned architectural firms. Despite his lack of formal architectural training or licensing, Muñoz developed a diverse portfolio and pioneered the Mestizo Regionalism and Latino Urbanism styles. His design expertise and cultural understanding eventually led him to assume ownership of the firm, now known as Muñoz & Company.
In 1992 Muñoz was appointed transportation commissioner of Texas, making him the first Latinx person to hold the position. He also became an outspoken philanthropist, pledging to fight “dangerous racism … almost of historic proportions.”
In 2007 Muñoz joined the DNC’s fundraising efforts in support of Barack Obama’s first presidential bid. He worked within the Democratic party to mobilize “not only Latinos, but the LGBT community and women.” Through the Futuro Fund, a committee established to engage first-time Latinx donors, Muñoz and the actress Eva Longoria raised $30 million for President Obama’s reelection in 2012. That same year, Muñoz was elected finance chairman of the DNC— the party’s chief fundraising post. Beyond raising money, he believed it was necessary to “rethink, redesign and rebuild the party from scratch.”
In 2014 Muñoz and Longoria created the Latino Victory Fund, which works to elect Latinx candidates to all levels of government. Muñoz also established TheDream.US, an organization that helps young immigrants fund higher education. It has awarded in excess of $141 million in scholarships to more than 6,000 students.
Muñoz served three terms as DNC finance chair before stepping down in 2019. He held the post longer than anyone else. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi described him as a “visionary who leads by example” and a critical contributor to the 2020 election victory.
Muñoz continues to serve as chairman and CEO of his architectural firm and to promote the role of cultural diversity in the American narrative. He serves on numerous boards and leads the commission to develop the Smithsonian American Latino Museum.
Muñoz married his husband in 2017 in a ceremony officiated by now-President Joe Biden. The couple lives in New York and Connecticut.