Liliana Ferrer often talks about good neighbors. As the senior representative of Mexico in California, Ferrer sees the relationship between the two governments in terms of neighbors who must work together, in spite of a troubled history and hostility from the current resident of the White House.
“We have historical ties that go back hundreds of years, and we will be neighbors forever,” says Ferrer. “Mexico wants to build bridges, and good neighbors find ways to resolve challenging issues and collaborate as a team.”
Ferrer and her family moved to Curtis Park in 2017 after she was appointed Mexico’s consul general. Her husband, Douglas Smurr, grew up in Sacramento.
He is an attorney who has specialized in Mexico and Latin America. Their daughter, Maria Cecilia, attends Sacramento City College and plans to transfer to a University of California campus. Son Alex is in the HISP program at C.K. McClatchy High School.
To Ferrer, Curtis Park is not just a neighborhood. It is a political ally, a great place to raise children, and a lesson in history. The family home on Markham Way represents part of that history, she says. Some of that is architectural, but she was also fascinated to learn that the perimeter of John Sutter’s original land grant, given to him by the Mexican government in the 1840s, runs right by her home.
Ferrer embodies bridge-building in both her personal and professional life. Born in Mexico City, she attended Del Campo High School in Carmichael while her father, Carlos Ferrer, served as consul general of Mexico in the 1980s. She studied international relations at UC Davis, and continued for a master’s degree at UC San Diego, where she was a fellow at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies.
Ferrer has spent more than 25 years in Mexico’s foreign service, including at the consulates in Los Angeles and San Diego, as well as eight years at the Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C. Last year, outgoing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto recognized her experience and skills, elevating her to the rank of ambassador.
As a foreign service officer, “that’s the apex of our career,” she says. It also means a greater responsibility for serving her compatriots and getting things right.
Ferrer’s appointment to be consul general in Sacramento followed an assignment as deputy chief of mission at the Mexican Embassy in Paris.
The Mexican Consulate, located in Natomas, serves nearly one million Mexican nationals living in 24 Northern California counties.
Part of Ferrer’s job is to help California’s Mexican immigrants remain in the state, which is a subject of collaboration between California and Mexico.
Ferrer says it is a mistake to think of immigrants simply as “some sort of foreign group, where in reality, they’re your neighbor and they’re your kid’s friend at school and they’re your kid’s teacher at school, and they’re the nurse that took care of you.” Ferrer reminds that “these are members of your community … and they’re just asking for a chance to continue … being part of your community and being your good neighbor.”
Ferrer said her family relishes the progressive feeling of both the neighborhood and California as a whole, as well as the willingness to support Mexicans in this country.
“California has played a leadership role in standing up for what is right,” she says.