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Published on November 4th, 2013 | by Apuntes LJ

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Katherine Archuleta: First Latina to Serve as Federal Personnel Chief

About the Author
griselda-nevarez_avatar-96x96 Griselda Nevarez, a native of Mexico, has a journalism degree from Arizona State University. Previously, she was sponsored by the Scripps Howard Foundation to intern with Hispanic Link News Service in Washington, D.C. She has contributed to various news outlets across the country.

Katherine Archuleta is the next director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), making her the first Hispanic to hold that position and placing her among the highest-ranking Hispanics in the Obama administration.

The Senate confirmed Archuleta as the next federal personnel chief on Wednesday [October 30, 2013] with a 62 to 35 vote. Eight Republicans joined Democrats to approve her confirmation. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was among the 18 senators who voted against moving Archuleta’s nomination forward.

The OPM is an independent agency of the federal government. Its long list of responsibilities includes managing the civil service of the federal government, coordinating recruiting of new government employees and managing the health insurance and retirement benefits of government employees and retirees.

In a statement released Wednesday, the White House stated President Barack Obama “applauds” the Senate for confirming Archuleta as the next director of the OPM.

“Katherine brings broad experience and a deep commitment to recruiting and retaining a world-class workforce for the American people,” the statement read. “She is an established advocate for public service and federal workers. Katherine shares President Obama’s vision for diversity and inclusion in the federal workforce and she will be a champion for federal workers – the dedicated men and women who are devoted to public service.”

A look at Katherine Archuleta’s work experience

Archuleta has extensive experience in politics and public service.

The Colorado native served as the national political director for Obama’s reelection campaign and helped organize the 2008 Democratic National Convention in her home state. She also served as chief of staff to former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

Archuleta began her political career in the 1980s as an aide to Denver Mayor Federico Peña, the city’s first Latino mayor. When President Bill Clinton nominated Peña to be Transportation Secretary in 1993, Archuleta followed Peña to Capitol Hill and eventually became his chief of staff. She again followed Peña and became his senior policy adviser when he became Energy Secretary in 1997.

Archuleta has also held a number of roles in public service, including serving as the executive director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center Foundation. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Metropolitan State University and a master’s degree in education from the University of Northern Colorado.

“Katherine brings to the Office of Personnel Management broad experience and a deep commitment to recruiting and retaining a world-class workforce for the American people,” Obama said in a statement in May. “I am grateful Katherine has agreed to serve, and I look forward to working with her in the coming years.”

Katherine Archuleta is one of few Latinos on Obama’s cabinet

Obama announced his intent to nominate Archuleta in May, a time when both Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis had resigned. Their departure left no Latinos serving on Obama’s cabinet.

The president’s announcement also came at a time when Latino leaders from various organizations were pressuring Obama to nominate Latinos to cabinet-level positions during his second term.

Among those groups calling on Obama to appoint more Latinos was the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), a coalition of 36 Latino organizations. Earlier this year, Obama nominated and the Senate confirmed Thomas Perez, a Dominican American, as Labor Secretary.

Most recently, members of NHLA were persistent in calling on the Senate to confirm Archuleta. The coalition issued a letter to senators, informing them that any and all votes on Archuleta would be scored in the NHLA’s scorecard on the 113th Congress. The scorecard, the coalition explains, rates members of Congress on votes they take that the coalition’s membership “deems important to the social, economic, and political advancement and quality of life of Hispanic Americans.”

On Wednesday, Hector Sanchez, chair of the NHLA and executive director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, applauded the senators who voted in favor of Archuleta’s confirmation and lauded her achievements.

“As an NHLA-endorsed nominee, Ms. Archuleta has gained our respect and confidence,” Sanchez said in a statement. “With a highly commendable history of over 30 years in public service to our nation through various positions in local and federal government, as well as in non-profit leadership roles, we know she will bring to OPM a deep passion for public good.”

 

Originally published by VOXXI as “Katherine Archuleta: First Latina to serve as federal personnel chief”


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