January 26, 2024 – President’s Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics Meeting

President's Advisory Commission Meeting with 3 Cabinet Secretaries

Friday, January 26, 2024

Commerce Research Library

U.S. Department of Commerce Herbert C. Hoover Building

Washington, D.C.

On Friday, January 26, 2024, the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics will convened its public meeting of the President’s Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics.


Agenda 

Speaker Biographies

Federal Register Announcement


Public Agenda

Roll Call

Emmanuel Caudillo, Designated Federal Officer, President’s Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics

Welcome by Chair

Jules Buenabenta, Chair, President’s Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics

Greetings

Secretary Miguel Cardona, U.S. Department of Education

Update from the White House Hispanic Initiative

Melody Gonzales, Executive Director, White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics

Update from the U.S. Department of Education

Roberto Rodriguez, Assistant Secretary, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, U.S. Department of Education

Featured Remarks

Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman, U.S. Small Business Administration

Primer in Placed-Based Investments from Commerce

  • Moderator: Ines Hernandez, Counselor for Equity, U.S. Department of Commerce
  • Alejandra Castillo, Assistant Secretary, Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce
  • Eric Morrissette, Interim Under Secretary, Minority Business Development, U.S. Department of Commerce
  • Kylie Patterson, Director of Equity and Opportunity, CHIPS Program Office, U.S. Department of Commerce
  • Mara Candelaria-Reardon, Deputy Director, Public Engagement, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce
  • Miguel Estién, Counselor, Puerto Rico Economic Recovery, U.S. Department of Commerce

Advancing Equity Through Federal Procurement

  • Jackie Robinson-Burnette, Associate Administrator, Office of Government Contracting & Business Development, U.S. Small Business Administration
  • Mark Madrid, Associate Administrator, Office of Entrepreneurial Development, U.S. Small Business Administration
  • Cheryl Thornton-Cameron, Executive Director, Office of Federal Acquisition Service, U.S. General Services Administration
  • Calvin Mitchell, Director, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business, U.S. Department of Education

Advancing a Whole-of-Government Roadmap to Good Jobs in and out of Government

  • Luke Rhine, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Career and Technical Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education
  • David Langdon, Deputy Director of Policy, U.S. Department of Commerce
  • Stephanie La Rue, Chief IC Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility, Office of the Director of National Intelligence
  • Kim Holden, Principal Deputy Associate Director for Workforce, Policy, and Innovation, U.S. Office of Personnel Management

Community Testimonials

  • Jessica Tamayo, D.C. Chapter President, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement
  • Dr. Irma Becerra, President, Marymount University
  • Luiz Mata Lopez, Montgomery Community College alum and current University of Maryland, College Park student

Welcome Remarks

Secretary Gina Raimondo, U.S. Department of Commerce

Commission Discussion

Jules Buenabenta, Chair, President’s Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics

Next Steps

Melody Gonzales, Executive Director, White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics

Chair’s Closing Remarks and Adjournment

Jules Buenabenta, Chair, President’s Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics


Speaker Biographies

Featured Cabinet Members

Miguel Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Education, U.S. Department of Education 

Secretary Miguel CardonaDr. Miguel A. Cardona was sworn in as the 12th U.S. Secretary of Education on March 2, 2021. 

Secretary Cardona is one of three children, whose parents moved from Puerto Rico in the 1960s for better opportunities in the mainland United States. That experience, and his bicultural upbringing, have helped shape Secretary Cardona’s passion to serve all students and improve their opportunities for success. 

Secretary Cardona’s focus throughout his career on raising the bar for equity and excellence in education for all learners guides his leadership of the U.S. Department of Education in service of the nation’s 65 million students, ranging from prekindergarten to adult learners, and their families. 

Over the last two years, Secretary Cardona led the nation’s efforts to safely and successfully reopen schools for in-person learning, going from only 46 percent of school buildings open when President Biden took office to nearly 100 percent open just nine months later, while distributing historic federal education funding for P-12 schools and colleges; working to increase higher education access, affordability, and student success; and leading unprecedented federal efforts to transform the country’s student loan system. 

Across all these areas, Secretary Cardona has highlighted the urgency of seizing this moment through intentional collaboration—particularly working in partnership with parents, families, students, and educators—and the opportunity we have, as a nation, not only to recover from the pandemic, but to reimagine a higher-performing and more equitable education system that works better for all. 

In the year ahead, the Department will be focused on achieving academic excellence and accelerating learning for all students; delivering a comprehensive and rigorous education for every student; eliminating the educator shortage for every school; investing in every student’s mental health and well-being; providing every student with a pathway to multilingualism; and ensuring every student has pathways to college and a career. Secretary Cardona previously served as the commissioner of education in Connecticut, a position he held after being appointed by Governor Ned Lamont in August 2019. In this role, Secretary Cardona faced the unprecedented challenge of responding to the Covid-19 pandemic and led safe school reopening efforts in the state. The state was the first in the nation to provide equitable access to learning devices amid the pandemic, being one of the first in the country to safely reopen. Recognizing the increased importance of providing resources for the social-emotional health of students and staff, the state also collaborated with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and other public-private partnerships to provide free social and emotional learning courses for students. 

Secretary Cardona’s approach to leadership in Connecticut focused on partnerships: within his Education Department, between state agencies, and with local boards, educator unions, school administrator associations, child advocates, and most importantly, students and families. He attributes his success in Connecticut, in part, to those strong partnerships. Secretary Cardona has two decades of experience as a public-school educator from Meriden, Connecticut, the same school system he attended as a child. He began his career as an elementary school teacher and went on to serve as an elementary school principal, leading a school that included outstanding programming for 3- to 5-year-old students with developmental delays, students with autism and other sensory needs, and students enrolled in the district’s bilingual education program. Following that role, Secretary Cardona led performance and evaluation efforts for the Meriden Public Schools and became assistant superintendent for teaching and learning. Secretary Cardona is the recipient of the 2012 National Distinguished Principal Award for the State of Connecticut and the Outstanding Administrator Award from the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education. 

Secretary Cardona earned a bachelor’s degree from Central Connecticut State University, a master’s degree, two additional advanced leadership certifications, and a doctoral degree from the University of Connecticut. His greatest source of pride is his family. Secretary Cardona and his beautiful wife Marissa, an educator herself, are the proud parents of two children. 

Gina M. Raimondo, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, U.S. Department of Commerce 

Secretary Raimondo

Gina M. Raimondo serves as the 40th U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris on March 3, 2021.  

As Secretary of Commerce, she is focused on a simple but vital mission — to spur good-paying jobs, empower entrepreneurs to innovate and grow, and help American workers and businesses compete. 

Secretary Raimondo was formerly the 75th Governor of Rhode Island and its first woman governor. She grew up in Smithfield in a tight-knit Italian-American family, the youngest of Joseph and Josephine Raimondo’s three children. Her family history and her childhood experiences shaped her core beliefs in hard work, opportunity for all, and the importance of financial security. 

After arriving from Italy at age 14, Secretary Raimondo’s grandfather learned English studying in the Providence Public Library and later lived with her family. Her mother was a homemaker, who dedicated her life to teaching her children about the importance of hard work and determination. Her father was a World War II Navy veteran from a family of butchers and became the first in his family to attend college thanks to the GI Bill. After working for 26 years in manufacturing, Joseph lost his job along with hundreds of others when the factory moved overseas, and the Raimondo family lost their sense of financial security. 

As a teenager, Secretary Raimondo rode a public bus to LaSalle Academy in Providence, where she was valedictorian of her graduating class. She went on to graduate with honors from Harvard, where she was recognized as the top economics student in her class. She won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University where she earned a doctorate and met her future husband, Andy Moffit. She later graduated from Yale Law School. Secretary Raimondo clerked for US District Judge Kimba Wood and served as founding employee and senior vice president at Village Ventures. 

Wanting to start her own business and be close to family, she returned home to Rhode Island and founded Point Judith Capital, a venture capital firm. In November 2010, Secretary Raimondo was elected to serve as General Treasurer of Rhode Island, receiving the largest number of votes of any statewide candidate. When she took office as General Treasurer, she tackled the state’s $7 billion unfunded pension liability. Secretary Raimondo was sworn into office as Governor in January 2015 and won a second term in 2018. She also served as chair of the Democratic Governors’ Association in 2019. 

During her time as Governor, Secretary Raimondo kick-started the state’s economy and made record investments in infrastructure, education, and job training. She focused tirelessly on creating economic opportunities and good-paying jobs for all Rhode Islanders. Early in her administration, she launched an innovative workforce development program that develops business-led partnerships to address unique workforce challenges. 

Secretary Raimondo is married to Andy Moffit and they have two children, Ceci and Tommy, and a rescue dog, Sparky. 

Isabel Casillas Guzman, Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration 

Isabel Casillas Guzman is the 27th Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration and serves in President Biden’s Cabinet as the leading advocate for America’s 33 million small businesses and innovative startups. 

Guzman has made advancing entrepreneurship her life’s work. Growing up, she worked alongside her father in his chain of veterinary hospitals, an experience that shaped her understanding of entrepreneurship and its transformative effect on customers and on communities. She went on to launch her own businesses across a range of industries and advise other founders in paving their way to the American Dream of business ownership. She served as SBA’s Deputy Chief of Staff in the Obama-Biden Administration and then led the California Office of the Small Business Advocate. In early 2021, President Biden asked her to lead the SBA, and her nomination was confirmed by a bipartisan vote in the U.S. Senate. 

Under Guzman’s leadership, the agency manages a $500 billion portfolio and deploys $40 billion in funding annually to America’s small business owners. As administrator, she spearheaded key agency initiatives to deliver essential pandemic assistance to the most vulnerable small businesses and underserved communities. She has also implemented effective strategies that help small businesses and innovative startups gain unprecedented access to capital, contracting, professional networks, technical training, digital tools and disaster support. As a result, more than ever before, millions of America’s entrepreneurs have the resources they need to start, grow, and build resilient businesses. 


Speakers

Emmanuel Caudillo, Designated Federal Officer, President’s Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics, U.S. Department of Education  

Emmanuel Caudillo is the management and program analyst to the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics. Previously on detail to the initiative in 2012, he transitioned full-time in 2013. 

From 2009 to 2013, he was a budget analyst at the U.S. Department of Education, overseeing the student aid administration account. He has held research positions in various organizations, including Abt Associates and the National Council on Teacher Quality. For his commitment to his community, Emmanuel was named 40 Under 40 from the Leadership Center for Excellence in 2015. He also was a 2017 Ricardo Salinas Scholar at the Aspen Institute and 2019-2020 Excellence in Government Fellow at the Partnership for Public Service. 

Originally from Los Angeles, he holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California and a Master of Public Policy from The George Washington University. His passion for education is due to the strong sense of duty and commitment his parents instilled in him. 

Jules Buenabenta, Chair, President’s Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics 

Jules Buenabenta is the CEO of Jules and Associates Inc., one of the largest privately owned equipment leasing companies in the country. He is also the manager and majority shareholder of Vendor Direct Solutions LLC, a records, facilities, and IT management company. Moreover, he currently oversees the development and deployment of FiT, proprietary records management and lifecycle software in the legal and education fields, and its adaptability to other industries.  

Knowing the role higher education played in his career, Buenabenta devotes significant time and resources to his alma mater, the University of Southern California. Most recent, Buenabenta was appointed to serve on the USC Marshall School of Business’s board of councilors, which provides strategic advice and counsel to the school’s dean. Passionate about opening doors for Hispanic students, he served as co-chair of the USC Associates’ Diversity and Inclusion Committee, supports the USC Latino Alumni Association, and participates in growth initiatives aimed to expand the bonds between the university and the Hispanic community.  

USC has honored Buenabenta for his outreach and engagement with its prestigious Alumni Service Award. Buenabenta is a trustee for the Catholic Education Foundation, which has provided more than $170 million in scholarships to Hispanic students in Los Angeles’ underserved communities, and a member of its finance committee responsible for administering the foundation’s $400+ million endowment. He also serves on the Providence Saint John’s Health Center Local Board of Directors and the Board of Trustees of the Saint John’s Health Center Foundation. Born into a family rooted in New Mexico for over 10 generations, Buenabenta was raised on the Santo Domingo Pueblo Reservation. Buenabenta resides in Southern California with his wife, their three children, and grandchild.   

Melody Gonzales, Executive Director, White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics, U.S. Department of Education 

Melody Gonzales is a community-oriented leader committed to building the capacity of organizations and leaders shaping a brighter, more equitable future for our nation. She leads the White House Hispanic Initiative, an office created by President Joe Biden’s Executive Order 14045 and housed under the leadership of Secretary Miguel Cardona at the U.S. Department of Education. The Initiative works to advance education, equity, and economic goals in partnership with the White House, federal agencies, and external stakeholders; lead a 21-member commission; run a federal Interagency work group centered in advancing equity and access to federal resources for the Latino community; and lead in-person and virtual public engagement efforts. Melody joined the Administration from the National Education Association, the nation’s largest union representing 3 million educators – where she managed Latino grants, partnerships, and advocacy work. Her prior experience includes serving: on the Biden-Harris transition team’s Office of Personnel Management Agency Review Team; as a Senior Executive Service-level appointee in the Obama-Biden Administration — serving first as the U.S Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration Chief of Staff and then as the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Deputy Chief of Staff; as a Legislative Assistant then Director of Member Outreach for former Congressman Xavier Becerra and the U.S. House of Representatives’ Democratic Caucus; and as the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda’s Founding Director of the Latino Appointments Program and Latinas Represent. She began her career in her hometown of San Diego working for the local NBC News affiliate and working as General Manager of the Chula Vista Convention and Visitors Bureau with the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce. 

Roberto J. Rodríguez, Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, U.S. Department of Education 

Roberto J. Rodríguez currently serves as Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Education, where he leads the development and review of the Department’s budget and advises the Secretary on all matters related to policy development, implementation, and review. Roberto’s distinguished career in public service includes senior government roles in the White House, as Deputy Assistant for Education to President Barack Obama, and in the U.S. Senate, as Chief Counsel to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy. 

Most recently, Rodríguez served as President and CEO of Teach Plus where he built an equity-driven teacher leadership movement that engaged thousands of teachers to shape public policy and instructional practice to deliver greater opportunity for students. 

A Michigan native, Rodríguez holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor and a Master of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

Ines Hernandez, Counselor for Equity, U.S. Department of Commerce  

Ines Hernandez is driven by her passion and commitment to building inclusive, resilient, and thriving communities. She has over 20 years of experience building cross-sector consensus that led to community and economic development solutions, new policies, and action with demonstrable results.  

The U.S. Department of Commerce recently appointed Ines as its first-ever Counselor for Equity.  In this newly created role, Ines works across the Department’s 13 bureaus to institutionalize equity across all workstreams and advise senior leadership on policy design and implementation strategies that help advance the equity agenda within the Department’s programs and strategic initiatives. Most recently, Ines served as the inaugural Senior Economic Development Fellow for StartUP FIU where she helped connect the university to opportunities that foster entrepreneurship and build inclusive prosperity by leveraging its role as an anchor institution and innovation hub. In her prior role as SVP in Community Investment and Development at Citi, Ines was responsible for leading the bank’s regional commitment to economic inclusion and leveraged philanthropy, business solutions and relationship expertise to launch and scale transformative programs with high social impact.

Alejandra Castillo, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, U.S. Department of Commerce 

Alejandra Y. Castillo was sworn in as U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development on August 13, 2021, becoming the first women of color to hold this position. In this unprecedented moment of growth and opportunity, she leads the only federal agency focused exclusively on economic development. She guides the implementation of over $5 billion dollars in funding, powering the U.S Economic Development Administration (EDA) and its mission to make the transformational investments in America. During the implementation of the American Rescue Plan alone, she oversaw the investment of $3 Billion dollars across nearly 800 projects, resulting in more than 200,000 jobs secured across the nation. As the daughter of immigrants and small business owners, her journey is the embodiment of the American Dream. Her own experiences have helped affirm her commitment to EDA’s number one funding priority: equity. Spanning over three decades and three Presidential administrations –Biden, Obama and Clinton—her career has focused on creating equitable and inclusive opportunities for all Americans. Her career has also included shattering glass ceilings and providing inspiration to multiple generations of diverse leaders. In 2014, Castillo was appointed by President Obama to serve as the National Director of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), the first Hispanic woman to lead the agency. Under her leadership, she expanded its effort to help Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) gain access to capital, contracts, and business opportunities, assisting MBEs to scale. Her commitment to ensuring opportunity for every American is reflected in her current service as Federal Co-Chair for the National Advisory Council for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and as Co-Vice Chair of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Council for Inclusive Innovation. Castillo first joined the U.S. Department of Commerce in 2008 as a Special Advisor to the Under Secretary for the International Trade Administration. Additionally, Castillo served as a Senior Policy Analyst in the White House during the Clinton Administration. Prior to EDA, Castillo was the Chief Executive Officer of YWCA USA, where she championed the 163-year-old organization delivering critical social, educational, and economic development services throughout its 204 associations. 

Eric Morrissette, Interim Under Secretary of Commerce for Minority Business Development, U.S. Department of Commerce 

Mr. Eric Morrissette is the Interim Under Secretary of Commerce for Minority Business Development where he leads the Minority Business Development Agency in its service of the nation’s nearly 10 million minority business enterprises. After more than 52 years in existence, in 2021 President Biden signed the Minority Business Development Act of 2021 expanding and making permanent MBDA as the United States’ newest federal agency. Mr. Morrissette was appointed to lead the agency on January 12, 2024. 

As Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary, Mr. Morrissette has served as the principal advisor to the Deputy Secretary and part of the Department’s leadership team supporting priorities on minority entrepreneurship, place-based economic development, and national security. Prior to serving in this role, Mr. Morrissette was the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs where he worked to successfully pass the Minority Business Development Act of 2021, in addition to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, CHIPS and Science Act, and Inflation Reduction Act. 

Prior to joining the Department of Commerce, Mr. Morrissette served in various impactful posts in the Federal Government that include serving as Deputy Chief of Staff for U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, managing the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy, service in both analysis and operations at the CIA, working in the Office of Board Members for the U.S. Federal Reserve, and operating under U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer as a legislative aide. In all these posts, Mr. Morrissette has worked to drive equity, transparency, and positive change on behalf of the county. 

Mr. Morrissette holds a bachelor’s in political science, Public Policy, and Political Philosophy from Syracuse University and a Masters in Global Public Policy from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, where he was a Global Public Policy Fellow and Bryce Harlow Fellow. Mr. Morrissette is originally from Brooklyn, New York, and lives in Maryland with his wife, Rexanah P. Wyse Morrissette, Esq., and their brilliant and beautiful infant daughter. 

Kylie Patterson, Senior Advisor for Opportunity, and Inclusion for CHIPS for America, U.S. Department of Commerce 

Kylie Patterson (she/her) serves as the Sr. Advisor for Opportunity and Inclusion for CHIPS for America, a $50 billion investment to strengthen and revitalize U.S. manufacturing, innovation, and technological leadership. Previously, she was the Director of the Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services, chaired by Rep. Maxine Waters. She was a key member of the policy team that codified the U.S. Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce, MBDA is the only federal agency tasked with promoting the growth and competitiveness of minority-owned businesses. She was also on the team that reauthorized and extended the Paycheck Protection Program, an SBA-backed loan that helped businesses keep their workforce employed during the COVID-19 crisis.  Prior to serving on Capitol Hill, Kylie spent more than 10 years directing multi-million-dollar programs, investigations, and evaluations to address racial, gender and wealth inequality at Johns Hopkins, the Pew Charitable Trusts, AFL-CIO, the City of Minneapolis and Prosperity Now.  Her writing has been published by the The Baltimore Sun, CNN, Blavity and HuffPost. Kylie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and African American Studies from Temple University, where she was awarded a Truman Scholarship and a master’s in public policy from the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. 

Mara Candelaria Reardon, Deputy Director of Public Engagement, National Telecommunications Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce 

Mara Candelaria Reardon was appointed in 2022 by President Biden to serve as Deputy Director of Public Engagement at the National Telecommunications Administration at the US Department of Commerce. Prior to her appointment, she was first Latina elected as a State Representative to the Indiana General Assembly and served 6 terms. In 2018, Mara was elected by her colleagues, as Chair of the Indiana House Democrat Caucus, a groundbreaking Caucus that was made up of a majority of women for the first time in the history of the State of Indiana. During her tenure she specialized in budget and fiscal issues, serving on the Ways and Means Committee. Additionally, Mara has championed legislation addressing such topics as workplace discrimination, drug courts, prevention of sexual harassment, career and technical training programs, minimum teacher salaries, and a statewide smoking ban. She is the immediate past Chair of the National Association of Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Education Fund Board of Directors, as well as a Director at Indiana American Water. Mara serves as a mentor at the LBJ Women’s Campaign School at the University of Texas at Austin. She has been married to Matthew Reardon for 25 years and they reside in Munster, Indiana. 

Miguel Estién, Counselor, Puerto Rico Economic Recovery, U.S. Department of Commerce

Jackie Robinson-Burnette, Associate Administrator, Office of Government Contracting & Business Development, U.S. Small Business Administration 

Jackie Robinson-Burnette serves as Associate Administrator of the Office of Government Contracting and Business Development (GCBD). This position oversees all functions within GCBD and works to enhance small business programs through partnerships with other SBA programs, federal agencies, private sector industries, and the small business community to improve the development of policies, regulations, and statutory changes. 

Ms. Robinson-Burnette has an extensive background in small business development in both the public and private sectors. From 2014 to 2017, Jackie served as the Deputy Associate Administrator for the Office of Government Contracting & Business Development at SBA. During this time, the team developed Certify.SBA.gov to automate and simplify application processes; streamlined 8(a) application procedures; implemented the All-Small Mentor Protégé Program; and exceeded small business contracting goals. She also served as the Associate Administrator for the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program. 

In 2014, Jackie served in the Pentagon as the Deputy Director for Small Business Programs, Office of the Secretary of the Army (Pentagon) leading over 150 small business specialists across Army installations. From 2010- 2013, she served as the HQ US Army Corps of Engineers, Associate Director for Small Business Programs, where she led the Corps to exceed all small business goals for the first time in its history. Her 34-year career with the Department of Defense as a Senior Contracting Officer and Procurement Analyst included assignments in Korea, Germany, Virginia, and Washington DC. 

Jackie holds a Bachelor’s in Business Management from the University of Maryland. 

Mark Madrid, Associate Administrator, Office of Entrepreneurial Development, U.S. Small Business Administration 

The Honorable Mark Madrid is Associate Administrator for the Office of Entrepreneurial Development at the U.S. Small Business Administration.  Mr. Madrid reports directly to SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, a member of President Biden’s cabinet.  

As a Presidential Appointee and one of the head officials of the SBA, Mark leads a unit that supports more than 1 million small businesses annually and oversees the educational and technical resources arms of the SBA, which includes the network of Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, SCORE, Regional Innovation Clusters, and the Office of Entrepreneurship Education, which houses the Emerging Leaders initiative, Ascent women’s business online program, and SBA’s on-line Learning Center.  Additionally, he supports the Agency Office of Native American Affairs and leads the American Rescue Plan $100 Million Community Navigator Pilot Program, which he erected alongside his team. 

Previously, Mark served as CEO of the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative and Latino Business Action Network.  Prior to serving in nonprofit executive roles, including CEO of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, he enjoyed a corporate executive banking career that began on Wall Street in 1995 with J.P. Morgan. 

Mark was the 2020 Recipient of the Latino Leaders Maestro Award in the Category of Leadership for his lifetime accomplishments as a distinguished influencer; and most recently he was honored with the Courage in Government award by the National Business Inclusion Consortium.  Soon, he will be named as one of this year’s U.S. 101 Most Influential Latinos. Mark is a Jefferson Award recipient and an Honorary Colonel of the U.S. Army, illustrating his dedication to volunteer service and veterans. 

He is an honors graduate from both the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Notre Dame, where he earned his Master’s.  He dedicates his service for America’s small businesses to his father, a small business owner, who passed away from COVID-19 in 2020. 

Cheryl Thornton-Cameron, Executive Director, Office of Acquisition Operations, Information Technology Category Federal Acquisition Services, U.S. General Services Administration 

Ms. Cheryl Thornton-Cameron is the Executive Director (SES) for the Office of Acquisition/SCRM Operations. She previously served as Acting Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Acquisition in the Information Technology Category of Federal Acquisition Service (FAS). Ms. Thornton-Cameron oversees a contract portfolio of GSA’s premier IT contract vehicles through which federal, state, local, tribal and territorial agencies spend over $30 Billion annually. The contract portfolio includes the IT Multiple Award Schedules (MAS), Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs), and Telecommunications program initiatives to include the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract (EIS). In addition, she oversees an acquisition workforce of over 300 professionals across 6 regional offices who focus on key functions, such as contract award/administration, supply chain risk management as well as acquisition policy and governance. 

Ms. Thornton-Cameron is a Acquisition professional with over 30 years of combined government service spanning GSA and the Department of Defense and holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, a Master’s certificate in Program Management from George Washington University and a Cybersecurity for Managers Certificate from MIT, as well as FAC-Professional and FAC-PPM Level III certifications. She also holds an unlimited Warrant. 

Ms. Thornton-Cameron is a graduate of the 2018 ACT-IAC Partners Program designed to support knowledge sharing between government and industry leaders. She is a 2022, FED 100 Award Winner For Exceptional Contributions To Federal IT. Ms. Thornton-Cameron is the Primary Designated Representative for the White House Equity Initiative on Black Americans. 

Calvin J. Mitchell Jr., Deputy Assistant Secretary, Acquisition, Grants, and Risk Management, U.S. Department of Education

Calvin J. Mitchell Jr. serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Grants and Risk Management (OAGRM), Senior Procurement Executive (SPE) and Suspension and Debarment Official.  He is the senior executive responsible for leading the administration of $50 billion annual grant and contract portfolio. As the SPE he is responsible for planning, directing, coordinating, and overseeing the procurement programs of the Department of Education. Previously, he served as the Director, Department of Education, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU). Mr. Mitchell is responsible for implementing the Department’s small business procurement programs across the $2.8 billion procurement operation.  As Director, he is responsible for implementing policies and initiatives throughout the Department to ensure that all socioeconomic categories of small business are afforded opportunities to compete for contracts.  Prior to the OSDBU, Mr. Mitchell was the Deputy Director of Contracts and Acquisitions Management (CAM). As CAM Deputy Director, in the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, he was responsible for overseeing the work of four contracting divisions that provide operational procurement services to the Department of Education. Prior to joining the Department, Mitchell served as the Branch Chief of the Accounts Management Division at the General Services Administration. Mitchell led the organization toward meeting the Government-wide strategic goals to support all 24 CFO Act agency vision, mission, and strategic goals. Separately, Mr. Mitchell served as a Congressional Fellow for the U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee reporting to Chairman Bennie Thompson. In this position he served as the Principal Procurement Advisor to Committee leadership and provided guidance and oversight to Members and Committee staff on procurement, small business programs, and related acquisition issues within the Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Mitchell has also held leadership positions at the U.S Army Corps of Engineers. Mr. Mitchell began his acquisition career with the U.S. Army Picatinny Arsenal New Jersey successfully completing the Department of Defense contract specialist intern program. He is a Certified Federal Contract Manager (CFCM) with the National Contract Management Association (NCMA).  He has an undergraduate degree in Business and a Master’s in Business Administration from Centenary University of New Jersey. 

Luke Rhine, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education

Luke Rhine is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education with the United States Department of Education. Prior to joining the Biden-Harris Administration, Luke served as the Associate Secretary of Workforce Support for the Delaware Department of Education, overseeing the offices of career & technical education, higher education, educator excellence, and licensure & certification. Previously, Luke has worked at the Maryland State Department of Education and as a high school CTE teacher and middle school teacher.  

Luke has received several state and national awards for educational leadership, was a Fulbright scholar, and has served as an advisor to President Biden’s education transition team and as a contributor to New York City Mayor Eric Adams’s education transition team. Luke earned his bachelor’s degree from California University of Pennsylvania and his master’s degree in education from Stockton University.  

David Langdon, Deputy Director of Policy, U.S. Department of Commerce 

David Langdon has served as policy advisor and economist to senior federal officials across Democratic and Republican administrations.  He has been Deputy Director of Policy at the U.S. Department of Commerce since June 2021.  In addition to managing a growing policy team, David advises the Secretary and other senior leadership on workforce, economic development, and statistical policy matters.  David previously served as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of the Secretary and as Senior Economist in the department’s Economics and Statistics Administration.  Before joining the Department of Commerce, David was a Senior Economist in the Office of the Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor.  He started his civil service career in 1998 as an Economist in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics program.  David Langdon studied as a Fulbright Scholar at the Universidad de Sevilla, Spain and is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Stephanie La Rue, Chief IC Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility, Office of the Director of National Intelligence 

 Stephanie La Rue, is the Chief IC Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (IC DEIA) for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.  

Stephanie leads efforts to strategically advance and integrate DEIA across the IC enterprise and serves as the Senior Principal Advisor to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and IC senior leadership on all matters related to DEIA. Stephanie engages with the Office of Budget Management and U.S. Congress to secure National Intelligence Program funding for the DEIA mission each year. She also serves as the IC representative to five White House initiatives focused on advancing educational equity and economic opportunity for underrepresented communities. 

Stephanie brings over a decade of leadership and national security experience to the role, including her most recent position as the Chief Diversity Strategist for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) where she led the development and execution of their multi-year diversity and inclusion strategy. 

Prior to this role, Stephanie served as an attorney with CIA’s Office of General Counsel in the litigation and administrative law divisions. She was the recipient of the IC Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity Award for Exceptional Service and CIA’s Donald Cryer Award for exemplary contributions to CIA’s mission. Stephanie graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Maryland with a B.A. in Government and Politics, and a J.D. from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. Stephanie lives in the greater Washington, D.C. area with her husband and children. 

Kimberly Holden, Principal Deputy Associate Director of Workforce Policy and Innovation, U.S. Office of Personnel Management 

Kimberly A. Holden is the Principal Deputy Associate Director of Workforce Policy and Innovation at the Office of Personnel Management. 

In this capacity, serves as the principal advisor to the Associate Director for Workforce Policy and Innovation in support of the Administration’s policies and programs.  She supports OPM’s efforts to develop the policy direction, and HR program development, in the areas of employment, pay, and employee benefits, performance management, work/life programs, and labor and employee relations.  In addition, Kimberly provides leadership to staff responsible for providing technical support to agencies regarding the full range of human resources management polices and practices, to include veteran’s and military spouse employment and agency program evaluation.   

Prior to this role, Kimberly served as the Deputy Associate Director for Talent Acquisition, Classification and Veterans Programs.  In this role she led the Federal government’s efforts to develop policies and guidance that will assist the government to recruit and hire America’s “best and brightest” to meet the challenges of the 21st century government.  She managed the design, development, and promotion of the merit-based employment tools, flexibilities, policies, and programs that Federal agencies use to hire high quality employees from diverse backgrounds.  Kimberly’s focus at OPM also included providing government-wide oversight of hiring, recruitment and outreach policy, classification, assessment, and qualification, and veterans and military spouse policy.  

Prior to serving as the Deputy Associate Director, Kimberly served as the as the Assistant Commissioner for Management, at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), providing oversight and direction HR Policy and Operations, Personnel and Physical Security, and the expansion of the FDA White Oak Campus.  Kimberly also successfully spearheaded the FDA Hiring Surge that resulted in the agency recruiting and hiring over 1,500 new staff in eight months, to focus on the expanded food safety and medical product safety mission of FDA.    During her 17 years at FDA, Kimberly held a variety of roles to include FDA Human Resources Director, Deputy Director for Recruitment and Staffing, and the Director Office of Management Programs.  

Kimberly is a member of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM).  She began her federal career in 1984, with the Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) as a Federal Junior Fellow.  Kimberly holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from the University of the District of Columbia. 

Jessica Tamayo, D.C. Chapter President, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement 

Jessica Tamayo is a prominent activist and defender of labor rights for immigrants and minorities in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Originally from El Salvador, since her arrival to the region, she has demonstrated a commitment unwavering with the Latin community. 

She currently serves as acting chapter president for the Labor Council for the Advancement of the Latino Worker (LCLAA-DC Metro). She plays a crucial role as an organizer at 32BJ SEIU, where she is dedicated to educating workers about their labor rights and the regulations that guarantee their safety in the workplace. 

Her influence extends to the board of the Metro Washington Labor Council AFL-CIO, where she contributes as an active member. She is also a training specialist in occupational health and safety at Georgetown University, Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor.  

Her passion for helping her community has led her to participate in various campaigns of civic engagement. She has been a driving force behind initiatives to promote voter participation in Northern Virginia and advocate for salary equity for Latina women. Despite her numerous responsibilities, she also finds time to continue being a student at Northern Virginia Community College. Her dedication to economic and social justice is reflected in its constant mobilization of the community immigrant and the working class. She actively participates in campaigns, events and other organizational activities both inside and outside unions. Jessica Tamayo is the mother of two children to whom she dedicates all her love and efforts in her time away from her professional responsibilities. Her life is an example of dedication and fight for a more just and equitable world.

Dr. Irma Becerra, President, Marymount University

Dr. Irma Becerra took office as the seventh President of Marymount University on July 1, 2018. In her five-plus years as President, she has launched the University’s new Strategic Plan, earned national recognition in the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges Rankings as well as America’s Top Colleges by Forbes, added market-driven academic programs, overseen the transition to a new academic structure, acquired a luxury apartment building that is now a mixed-use property that combines student housing with an extended stay hotel, improved the University’s IT infrastructure, navigated the school community through the COVID-19 pandemic and led efforts at the state and federal levels to advocate for legislative solutions to the DACA program that will protect Dreamer students. 

She is a nationally recognized educator known for innovation, entrepreneurship and transformational education. Prior to Marymount, she served as Provost and Chief Academic Officer at St. Thomas University, and also spent three decades at Florida International University (FIU) in a variety of positions that include Vice President, Vice Provost, Entrepreneurship Center Director and tenured professor. She became the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at FIU. 

Luiz Mata Lopez, Montgomery College Alum and University of Maryland, College Park Student 

Luiz Mata Lopez recently graduated from Montgomery College last May and is currently attending University of Maryland, College Park. While at Montgomery College, Luiz completed an NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) involving Bioinformatics Research in Data Science for Genomics at University of Maryland, College Park, and was a computational Biology Intern at NIH where he worked on de-novo genome alignment/assembly and detections of novel LTR Retrotransposons in the Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Genome – also while at Montgomery College. Both of these experiences led to extended research opportunities that he is continuing while attending UMD.  He is part of the Przytycka group working on computational modeling and analysis of biological processes originating in David Clark’s (NIH) lab.  He is also an undergraduate researcher in the Molloy Lab – a computational biology research group housed in the dept of computer science at UMCP.  While at Montgomery College, Luiz received a Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship and a University of Maryland Frederick Douglass Scholarship, among many other honors and awards.


Staff 

Kevin Lima, Deputy Director, White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics, U.S. Department of Education  

Kevin Lima is Deputy Director of the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics. Kevin was Special Assistant in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education between 2021-2023.  

Prior to joining the Biden-Harris Administration, Kevin Lima was the youth political director for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) during the 2020 election. Kevin led youth engagement inside and outside of the DNC and helped build youth infrastructure to help Democrats win key races across the country while simultaneously developing a diverse leadership pipeline to strengthen the future of the Democratic party.  

Kevin has been a political organizer since graduating with a political science degree from The Pennsylvania State University in 2016. He was an organizer for the Nevada State Coordinated Campaign in Las Vegas where he organized to elect the first Latina senator, Catherine Cortez Masto, and worked for NextGen America as their California campus and organizing director for the 2018 midterm.  

Jasmin Chavez,Confidential Assistant, White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics and the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, U.S. Department of Education  

Jasmin Chavez is a Confidential Assistant for the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics and the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Prior to this role, she was a Policy & Communications Associate at Dewey Square Group, where she managed the technology and telecommunications policy portfolio for the company’s multicultural clients.  

Jasmin was born in El Salvador but grew up in Falls Church, Virginia in a low-income, predominantly immigrant community. At the age of 14 years old, she began organizing her community and hasn’t stopped since. Jasmin has given back to her community in Virginia by serving as the immediate past State Director for the Virginia League of United Latin American Citizens from 2020-2023. She has also served as the Latino Outreach & Political Director for Victoria Virasingh for Congress in 2022 and as the Chair of the Virginia Todos Con Biden Youth Committee in 2020. Currently, she is a board member of McDaniel College’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee of the Alumni Council. 

In 2023, Jasmin received the 30 under 30 Award from Hispanic Executive, the Young Alumni Award from the McDaniel College Alumni Association, and the Poderosa Award from the non-profit, El Poder de Ser Mujer. In 2018, she was awarded Woman of the Year by the League of United Latin American Citizens and in 2014, was a featured speaker at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s 37th Annual Awards Gala.  

Jasmin earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and Spanish from McDaniel College. She is a dynamic leader with a track record in civic engagement, legislative advocacy, and community organizing. 

Mariana Martinez, Presidential Management Fellow, White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics, U.S. Department of Education 

Mariana Martinez is a Presidential Management Fellow currently on a detail rotation with the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics.  

Mariana Martinez earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Miami and holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations and political Science from Florida International University. 

Before government work, Mariana worked in several international and local nonprofits. Her career journey has involved community organizing for immigrant communities, educational programming and curriculum building for youth and young adults and directing programing advocacy campaigns in Florida.  

Christian Loredo-Duran, Intern, White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics, U.S. Department of Education 

Christian Loredo-Duran is a junior studying Public Policy at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy and pursuing minors in Music, Latina/o Studies, and Law, Justice, & Social Change. On campus, he is involved in La Casa and Mi Casa Es Tu Casa, organizations centered on uplifting Latinx student voices, supporting high school students in their journeys toward post-secondary education, and uniting the Latinx community.  

His passions are founded on immigration, education, and human rights, interests that he has advocated for as an intern at organizations such as Migrant Legal Aid, the Michigan Senate, and his current internship with the White House Hispanic Initiative through the U.S. Department of Education. Through his involvement, he strives to uphold his community and ensure that everyone has access to the rights and opportunities we all need and deserve to succeed.