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Life Highlights, Told in Pictures

Get to Know Ollie

Each of us, no matter who we are, has the opportunity to contribute to changing the world! It ultimately involves embodying the highest of expectations through daily deliberate action, leading to concrete results.

As Ollie grew up, taking on greater levels of responsibility, he learned the power of leveraging in order to gain invaluable and positive insights from others and to identify ways to join forces with alllies to make an even bigger difference in the world.

The leaders with whom Ollie has interacted and/or worked have come from the worlds of sports, history, entertainment, and politics. The below illustrates Ollie's independent thinking, working in conjunction with people from a variety of viewpoints and perspectives.

“There are so many issues upon which we agree as opposed to on which we disagree. So, if we focus on areas of commonality, we may unite together to do far more than what could possibly have been achievable alone,” he said.


Ollie Cantos was raised in West Covina since late 1974. Here, he is pictured with his Mom, Lynda Cantos.


Though shy while growing up, it was a number of years before Ollie came out of his shell.


Ollie tried his hand at Karate at the age of 10. Though he was not ultimately authorized to continue for medical reasons, he kept fighting on, especially against negative attitudes and low expectations. Little could he have imagined how that commitment would empower him to cross paths with some of the most notable figures from sports, history, entertainment, and politics.


Ollie used to play the organ between the ages of 10 and 14. But, today, the best music to his ears is if you give him your vote! (These days, the best music that he plays is the radio.)


Ollie Cantos, Student Body Vice President during the 1983-1984 school year, following his receipt of the Most Inspirational and Best Improved Student Award, given during his 8th Grade promotion ceremony. Here, as his younger sister Jennifer holds the trophy, Ollie is also pictured with his Dad, Orlando Cantos.


While Speaker of the Student Senate at Loyola Marymount University, Ollie was excited to meet the legendary Los Angeles Dodgers Manager Tommy Lasorda in 1989.


Ollie Cantos with former United States Senator Alan Cranston for whom Ollie interned between his sophomore and junior years in college.


Ollie graduated from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, capping off the triumphant conclusion of his formal education. Pictured here, he is congratulated by Loyola Marymount University President, Fr. Thomas P. O'Malley, S.J., Ph.D., as his law school classmates gave him a standing ovation.


Ollie is a 3-time finisher of the 26.2-mile Los Angeles Marathon, having raised more than $30,000 in support of the Blind Children's Center and the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.


When Ollie moved to Washington DC in June 2002, he took a high-profile position as General Counsel and Director of Programs for the American Association of People with Disabilities, which had a membership of 70,000 at that time. Here, he addresses a national audience from a podium at the National Press Club.


Ollie Cantos served as the Associate Director for Domestic Policy under President George W. Bush from 2006 to 2007. Here, Ollie is pictured with the President in the Oval Office at the White House. In the background are the American Flag and the Presidential Flag along with the Resolute desk, which was originally given to President Rutherford B. Hays by Queen Victoria in 1880.


Ollie Cantos with Alberto R. Gonzales, United States Attorney General under President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007.


FBI Director Robert S. Muller speaks well of Ollie during a May 2006 event where Ollie keynoted. Here, Director Muller quips about Ollie's remarks to the laughter both of Ollie and the audience present.


In 2006, Ollie Cantos received the Pamana ng Pilipino ("Legacy of the Filipino") Award from Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, President of the Republic of the Philippines, in a ceremony held at the Malacañan Palace.


Ollie Cantos with Kim Kendrick, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, under President George W. Bush.


Ollie with a team of Civil Rights Division leaders from the Department of Justice, pictured with U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff.


In July 2014, in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Ollie Cantos was honored and privileged to lead in bringing together participants from the Freedom Rides, an innovative effort of the Congress Of Racial Equality (CORE) to send small groups of black and white activists from Washington, DC through the deepest parts of the American South to challenge long-standing racial segregation in interstate travel. The effort, originally led by CORE Chairman James Farmer, was considered by some (including from within the civil rights community itself) to be a radical idea that would ultimately backfire. Instead, it led the Interstate Commerce Commission to order that all "Whites Only" signs be taken down, leading to unprecedented desegregation in ways never thought possible. These gains paved the way for other civil rights victories in other areas as disenfranchised citizens drew inspiration and strength from these brave men and women.

From left to right, pictured here are Rev. Reginald Green, Ollie Cantos, Charles Person, Dion Diamond, and Joan Trumpauer Mulholland.


In July 2014, Ollie and his sons spend time with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Dunkin. Pictured here, from left to right, are Steven Cantos, Ollie Cantos, Secretary Dunkin, Leo Cantos, and Nick Cantos. Behind them is the Great Seal of the U.S. Department of Education.


In September 2014, Ollie was named by Loyola Law School as one of its "50 Most Inspirational Alumni." Among those in attendance was Grammy Award winner Peter Cetera, legendary musician and the former rock band leader of Chicago, who went on to build a successful solo career.


In April 2016, Ollie Cantos received the Secretary's Diversity and Inclusion Award from John King Jr., Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education as appointed by President Barack Obama. Ollie was recognized for his leadership in fostering greater recruitment, hiring, retention, and promotion of qualified individuals from marginalized populations.


Ollie Cantos with Elizabeth Dole, former Secretary of Labor under President George H.W. Bush and former United States Senator from North Carolina. From left to right: Steven Cantos, Ollie Cantos, Leo Cantos, Mrs. Dole, and Nick Cantos.


In 2017, Ollie Cantos was inducted into the National Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame by the National Disability Mentoring Coalition (NDMC). Here, he was given the honor by NDMC Co-Chairs Derek Shields and Rayna Aylward.


In October 2018, Ollie was invited to the White House to participate in a special commemoration of Filipino American History Month. Here, Ollie is pictured with various Filipino American leaders from the Washington DC area.


Ollie Cantos with Betsy DeVos, U.S. Secretary of Education under President Donald Trump.


In October 2019, Ollie joined with the Grammy Award-winning rock and pop band, Imagine Dragons, to promote the Tyler Robinson Foundation, geared toward helping to cure pediatric cancer. Here, from left to right are Bassist Ben McKee, Lead Guitarist Wayne Sermon, Lead Vocalist Dan Reynolds, Ollie Cantos, and Drummer Daniel Platzman.


Ollie Cantos (right) with Emmy Award-Winning Jonathan Murray (left), creator of the hit reality television series "Born This Way" and "Born for Business," which depicted people with disabilities living active, productive, and prosperous lives.


In March 2022, Ollie was privileged to meet singing legend and Grammy Award winner Stevie Wonder.

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