The Record, Stockton, Calif., Michael Fitzgerald column
|By Michael Fitzgerald, The Record, Stockton, Calif.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
His parents, farm workers, drummed in him the importance of hard work, strong family, religion, education. Of picking friends who saw beyond the ghetto.
"A lot of my friends that I grew up with, they couldn't envision even graduating from high school, let alone going to college,"
His dad died when he was 9.
He worked two paper routes.
Across the street undulated the greens of the
"We can't pay you much," the golf pro said. "But you can listen to me give lessons, and shag balls, and you can play as much golf as you want."
His older brother gave him hand-me-down clubs. A family friend donated used shoes. He golfed, and stayed off the streets, going to Mass at
"My gang became the golf course, and schools became a haven," Fierro said.
When he got to
An exceptional teacher named
"High school speech ignited in me a fire of passion for creating a vision," Fierro said. A vision of escaping
He graduated from high school. "No one from my family ever graduated from high school." He envisioned blazing a trail out of his family history. "I could possibly go to college."
He landed a scholarship to
He earned a bachelor's degree in political science cum laude from Pacific and a master's degree in public administration, also cum laude, from
He went to work as an assistant to the city manager of
But he became intrigued with a sophisticated municipal discipline called risk management.
Risk management limits liability (legal and financial damages) to companies and organizations. It helps them not get sued and hampered so they can function as they should.
He became head of
Today, Fierro is president of the
Fierro supervises the national "captive insurance" portfolio. His division insures the parent company. He also has risk management responsibilities for 50 state offices plus the
"You've got to have a dream," Fierro said. "Then you have to have a plan. Then you have to execute it. That's about the simplest way I can say it."
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