A National Organization
At the end of 1972, SWCLR became a national organization, and the Board changed its name to the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) to reflect its commitment to represent and serve all Mexican Americans in all parts of the country. In 1973, the Washington office became NCLR’s headquarters and its Phoenix location became a field office.
Although this formative period in NCLR’s history was characterized by many important decisions that set the tenor for the organization’s subsequent development, it also sparked disagreement and dissention among the organization’s leadership about NCLR’s focus and direction. Amid one such controversy, the Ford Foundation indicated that its next funding would be its final grant to the organization. In response, Executive Director Henry Santiestevan, who had succeeded Gallegos in 1970, stepped down, determined to keep “the frail craft that was the Council” from sinking and believing that it was time for a new generation of leaders. Upon his resignation, the Board selected Raul Yzaguirre as NCLR’s new Director.
Throughout the latter half of the 1970s, Yzaguirre worked with the Board and staff to review, reorganize, and develop NCLR’s mission, programs, and priorities. Under his leadership, NCLR secured a continuation of core funding from the Ford Foundation. Additionally, NCLR obtained federal funding for a number of projects and began to make increased private-sector resource development a priority.