Wed, May

Latina Power in the Obama Administration


GUEST COMMENTARY-It’s amazing the number of high ranking Hispanic women appointed by the Obama Administration yet the president’s policies seems so out of tune with that of the largest ethnic group in America – the very one that helped elect him to the presidency not once but twice. Last week, I attended the Latino Leaders Luncheon series in Washington, DC where I heard Maria Contreras-Sweet, the Administrator of the Small Business Administration speak. 

Ms. Contreras-Sweet a former California state official and bank owner, was indeed a force of power at the podium – she’s an extraordinarily gifted speaker , beautiful, smart and if that isn’t enough, she leads the only agency in the federal government tasked with overseeing small business interests in this country. 

As the head of the SBA, Contreras-Sweet is a member of President Obama’s cabinet, making her the highest ranking female in his administration. But she’s not alone, there are several more Latinas serving in high level positions in the Obama Administration unlike any other presidential administration. 

The Office of Personnel Management which is responsible for recruiting and retaining a federal workforce is led by Katherine Archuleta who is a long time public servant and Colorado native. Carmen Lomelin heads the Organization of American States, an inter-continental organization consisting of 35 member nations of the Americas. Ms. Lomelin is Mexican-American who started her first job at a steel mill in Chicago and put herself through night school to earn her undergraduate degree. 

Cecilia Munoz is the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.  She was born in Detroit of Bolivian parentage whose father was an automotive engineer with one of the auto makers. And recently Maria Eschaveste, who was an agricultural worker in early childhood and later, became a top Clinton White House official was nominated to be our country’s next Ambassador to Mexico. 

And of course, the biggest jewel in this case of extraordinary talent, is Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. 

So while the Hispanic community may feel cheated out of immigration reform by the Obama Administration and other important policies relative to improving its livelihood, Latinos all over America can feel proud that their fellow Latinas are in significant positions that can and should make a difference. 

In the meantime, the star power of these Latina appointees can be tested in next week’s mid-term elections. Even though there are no Hispanics running for any of the nation-wide offices, the importance for Democrats to maintain control of the Senate is of utmost urgency and those Hispanics that can help with election victories should be dispatched to do so. 

One would think that these dynamic women should be first and foremost in this election in helping Democrats in their senate races. While the state of Colorado is the only state in play in these mid-term elections whose Latino population can make or break the election for it next senator, the presence of these women could be the game changer for that state but their efforts should not be limited to Colorado. 


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They can speak to audiences of all backgrounds and ethnicity and given that Obama is not popular across the country, the presence of these Latinas is needed more than ever. 

If these Hispanic women appointees are dispatched to support the Democratic candidates the White House and the candidates themselves might surprised at how effective they can be as vote getters, its worked with past administrations; i.e.,  dispatching their best and brightest to help in campaigns and it can happen again, this time with Latinas making their mark in election victories for years to come. 

(Grace Flores-Hughes has served in the administration of three presidents, including that of President George W. Bush who appointed her to the Federal Service Impasses Panel. In 2011 she published her memoir, A Tale of Survival. This commentary was posted first at LA’s important Latino voice  VOXXI.com.)






Vol 12 Issue 88

Pub: Oct 31, 2014



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