UTEP Alumnus Has Big Plans for El Paso

By Chris Lechuga

UTEP News Service

El Paso city planner Carlos Gallinar always had a sense of service to his hometown. While a student at The University of Texas at El Paso, the Bel Air High School graduate immediately became involved in community service programs that helped lead him to his calling: city planning.

Today, Gallinar is the comprehensive plan manager for the City of El Paso and is one of the team leaders for “Plan El Paso,” a broad blueprint of city development projects designed to give new life to areas of the Sun City. The plan, which won a National Award for Smart Growth Achievement in 2011 by the Environmental Protection Agency, was unanimously approved by the El Paso City Council earlier in 2012.Carlos Gallinar '98 is one of the team leaders for Plan El Paso, a broad blueprint of city development projects designed to give new life to areas of the Sun City.  Carlos Gallinar '98 is one of the team leaders for Plan El Paso, a broad blueprint of city development projects designed to give new life to areas of the Sun City.

“The plan looks at reinventing the city as a whole, and looking at how we build our neighborhoods, how we build our parks, how we rebuild our downtown – all with the end goal of making [El Paso] more prosperous and being a city that can compete in the 21st century,” Gallinar said.

Gallinar transferred to UTEP after two years at El Paso Community College to study English literature and creative writing. He soon became involved in community service projects as a member of the Latino Leadership Opportunity Program through the Chicano Studies Program. It was during his volunteer service that Gallinar came into contact with officials from the El Paso Community Foundation, who would offer him a summer internship position.

“It put me on the right path,” Gallinar said. “It seems that a lot of the decisions that I made back then have led to many of the things I am now doing.”

Benjamin Saenz, Ph.D., professor and chair of the creative writing department at UTEP, described Gallinar as a stellar student. He recalled a march that Gallinar organized to bring awareness to a controversial issue as an example of the level of dedication his former student has for community service.

“He was always civic minded and engaged with the city,” Saenz said. “He really understands his community and he works hard for it in ways that are positive.”

After graduating from UTEP in 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, Gallinar went on to earn a master’s degree in city and regional planning from Rutgers University in 2004. He came back to El Paso and worked in planning and development at Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe before landing his current position with the City of El Paso in 2010.

When asked to describe his ability to apply what he learned at UTEP into his work for the city, Gallinar paraphrased a scripture from the Bible.

“’To he who much is given, much is expected,’” Gallinar said.