Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of winning the future through their work.
April Boyd is the Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs for U.S. Department of Commerce.
As Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs at the Commerce Department, I have the privilege to serve as Secretary Locke’s principal advisor on legislative issues, congressional relations and outreach to the nation’s governors and mayors. I manage these efforts and the Department’s relationships with its 19 congressional committees of jurisdiction across the Department’s 12 bureaus.
During my tenure, the Department and Congress have collaborated on a range of measures, such as the bipartisan America COMPETES Act, which aims to boost the innovation on which our economic growth depends. Lately, I’ve been focusing on two key administration legislative priorities: comprehensive patent reform legislation, and Congressional implementation of the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement.
Given that Members of Congress come to Washington to be a direct voice for their states and districts, and understanding that the Commerce Department exists to be the voice for American businesses, my job gives me the perspective that, together, we can be a powerful force for helping America win the future. That’s what drives me to connect with members of Congress and local governments on Secretary Locke’s goals and the Commerce Department’s resources for American businesses, including those owned and led by women.
Women currently hold 17 % of the seats in U.S. Congress – 17 of the 100 Senate seats and 74 seats in the 435-member House of Representatives. When I first came to Washington, DC, after college, those numbers were 9 and 48, respectively. This change is good news for ensuring that legislation is inclusive of a wide range of perspectives.
I think government service and politics are great areas for young people to work in because there is so much work to be done, anyone with a good idea will have a chance to shine. Throughout my career I’ve been fortunate to work for and around some incredible women, including former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher. If I’ve learned a few lessons from them I can pass along, they would be: Hard work and a positive attitude will take you far. Also, be nice. DC can be a pretty small town, and the person working for you today may be your boss in a few years! Now, as a mom, these things mean even more to me.
My daughter is still too young to realize why there is a Women’s History Month and appreciate that all the incredible women who have blazed the trails she’ll have the opportunity to take. I think that’s one of the most wonderful things about children; they are very egalitarian. If I and the other moms can keep that can-do spirit in our daughters, I think that will mean good things for our country’s future.