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Blog Category: Spotlight on Commerce

Spotlight on Commerce: Kate McAdams, Senior Advisor, Department of Commerce

Kate McAdams, Senior Adviser to the Secretary

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Kate McAdams, Senior Adviser to the Secretary, Department of Commerce

In addition to my role on the Secretary's senior management team, I lead the Department's effort to ensure a skilled workforce, one of the pillars of our Open for Business Agenda. For the first time, the Department of Commerce is focusing on the critical importance of a globally competitive workforce as part of the Department's mission to help set the conditions for economic growth and opportunity. In addition to developing strategic partnerships with the Departments of Labor and Education, we are building on the Department's existing assets, including access to business leaders; data tools; economic development planning expertise; and Manufacturing Extension Partnership centers that serve the needs of small and medium manufacturers. To date, I have been spending time developing partnerships and our internal "skills team" that focuses on expanding job-driven training that ensures employers find the skilled workers they need and workers access quality jobs and career paths.

Recognizing that more can be accomplished through a team effort is inherent in my approach to solving problems and achieving outcomes due to a lifelong passion for playing competitive sports. Growing up playing ice hockey on a team of all boys, to playing women's ice hockey in college, to even "old man's hockey" as an adult, I am hard-wired to think about how to accomplish goals by utilizing my strengths in combination with those of my teammates. This is the case in my new position at Commerce and past positions in city government, and even when I was the sole employee of an organization I found a way to be more impactful through strategic partnerships. Particularly in public service positions, the fast pace and limited resources require creativity when building and utilizing teams.  I am lucky to have worked for two respected mayors and now I view it as a true honor to work for Secretary Pritzker and President Obama.  

I often say I am lucky for the professional opportunities I’ve experienced, but was recently chided for saying so, as if it was out of my control. What I actually mean is better described by the quote “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” I believe that hard work is noticed and is the best preparation for the next opportunity, and as I learned from coaches at a very young age, "keep your head on a swivel" to attempt to prepare for the unexpected. This is my advice for young people starting a career – seek out leaders you want to work for and projects to which you want exposure. Keeping your head on a swivel was my hockey coach’s term to be looking forward, backwards, left and right – to be cognizant of your strengths, weaknesses and the position of your teammates who will help you achieve your goals.

Spotlight on Commerce: Jeannette P. Tamayo, Chicago Regional Director, Economic Development Administration

Spotlight on Commerce: Jeannette P. Tamayo, Chicago Regional Director, Economic Development Administration

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Jeannette P, Tamayo, Chicago Regional Director, Economic Development Administration

I am both honored and humbled to have been asked to share my experience in the DOC Spotlight as part of Women’s History Month as so many extraordinary women, and their sons, contribute to our collective achievements.

As the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Chicago Regional Director, I am truly privileged to touch lives in extraordinary ways through the catalytic investments EDA funds and the hope and economic impact these investments bring to economically distressed communities across the nation.  As the only federal agency with economic development as its exclusive mission, EDA promotes the economic ecosystems in which jobs are created. EDA strives to advance global competitiveness, foster the creation of high-paying jobs, and leverage public and private resources strategically.

I am fortunate to work with creative, dedicated and energetic colleagues who use their specialized knowledge and skills to help communities transform ideas into a competitive application that, once implemented, results in initiatives that create jobs and leverage private investment.  No two ideas or communities are the same, and, as the competitive needs of regional economies change to be globally competitive, EDA is constantly presented with unique asset-based, innovative concepts that test our imagination and compel us to “push the envelope” – trying new approaches to foster economic sustainability and resiliency.  Grant making requires an understanding of communities and regions, risk management, and the ability to translate visionary goals into measurable activities.  It also requires building partnerships and creating opportunities for collaboration.  While ensuring that federal funds  for transformational projects flow to communities in my six-state region (IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, and WI), my specific role involves leading a regional staff, fostering creativity, finding solutions, managing change, engaging in negotiations and mediation, analyzing applications, marketing programs, and building coalitions. 

Spotlight on Commerce: Lisa Casias, Deputy Chief Financial Officer, Department of Commerce

Spotlight on Commerce: Lisa Casias, Deputy Chief Financial Officer, Department of Commerce

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Lisa Casias, Deputy Chief Financial Officer, Department of Commerce 

As the Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Director for Financial Management, I work with all of the bureaus CFOs and financial management teams to provide support to the Department’s program managers in meeting their missions.  As a community we ensure that we meet the many requirements of the federal government’s financial reporting mandates, maintain robust internal control environments, and maintain the systems to produce financial information.  Perhaps, the most important aspect of our work is to ensure program managers have the information needed for decision making.  I am also responsible for the Office of Secretary’s budget operations and most recently the travel, fleet and personal property offices. 

I have worked in the Department for over 22 years in both the Office of Secretary and Office of Inspector General. I have held different positions within these organizations and added new areas to my portfolio over that time.  While some choose career paths that cross into many federal agencies, the opportunities to continually learn new things and ability to work with outstanding financial and administrative communities have kept me in the Department.

One of the most interesting aspects in working at the Department level is the ability to engage with all of the bureaus and learn their missions as we support their financial management needs.  As demonstrated in the Department’s Strategic Plan, the Department plays a critical role in the nation’s economy and the financial and administrative management communities are an integral part of mission success. 

I attribute my ability to follow my dreams (yes, I always wanted to be an accountant) and my career successes to the support of my parents.  I grew up in Dumont, New Jersey where my parents had migrated from England. They taught by example instilling in both my sister and me the importance of having strong work ethic, integrity and belief in oneself. They stayed in the United States as they believed we would have more opportunities to achieve our dreams, including obtaining a college education.  We were the first in our family to graduate from college. 

Spotlight on Commerce: Kim Glas, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, and Materials, International Trade Administration

Spotlight on Commerce: Kim Glas, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, and Materials, International Trade Administration

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Kim Glas, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, and Materials, International Trade Administration

Serving as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, and Materials, my job is to improve the domestic and international competitiveness of the broad product range of U.S. textiles, footwear, consumer goods, metals and mining, forest products, and chemicals and plastics manufacturing sectors and industries. This position requires strong negotiation and problem-solving skills and the ability to work with a broad array of stakeholders with divergent opinions in order to find solutions on a whole host of issues. 

Over the last 3 years, I have spent significant time at the negotiating table for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement to ensure opportunities under the agreement for U.S. textile and footwear producers.  I coordinate within the ITA and across agencies to ensure we can deliver results for companies and the workers they employ.  While the job has been challenging, it has been an incredibly rewarding opportunity.  I have worked with top-notch staff across the Department and in the Administration who are driven to expanding opportunities for U.S. industries and workers.

Having worked in two Administrations and on Capitol Hill, I have always been driven by a mission to serve the American people and have been fortunate to do so throughout my career.  Growing up, my parents, extended family, teachers, and mentors were incredibly supportive of me and instilled in me to work hard, serve others, and have a strong sense of self. I grew up in the close-knit community of Lockport, NY located near Buffalo during a time when many industries in the area were facing enormous economic hardships.  Layoffs all too often were the front page news of the local paper.  My high school experience reflected what was happening in the community – and I knew that I wanted to make it better.

Spotlight on Commerce: LaJuene Desmukes,Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization

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Spotlight on Commerce: LaJuene Desmukes, Director, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by LaJuene Desmukes, Director, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization

As the Director for the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, I am the Department of Commerce’s chief advocate for promoting the use of small business concerns to fulfill its contract and grant requirements. Helping small businesses navigate the complex Federal acquisition arena and successfully pursue opportunities is the most rewarding job I’ve held over the course of my 34-year career.  

I serve as a liaison between small businesses and the Department, seeking out and connecting quality firms with the necessary skills and expertise to meet the Department’s requirements. One of the more interesting aspects of my job is the opportunity to meet with individuals in both the government and private sector who work on projects and build solutions benefitting the nation and the world.  The more I learn about the Department’s programs and industries’ capabilities, the better able I am in helping small businesses pursue and compete for opportunities with Commerce. 

Small businesses, including disadvantaged, women-owned, service-disabled, veteran-owned, and small businesses located in Historically Underutilized Business Zones, are the backbone of the nation’s economy and the primary source of jobs for Americans.  I’m proud to help small businesses successfully pursue contracts and grants with the Department, and to use these opportunities to help small businesses grow and thrive. 

My desire to help others was impressed upon me by my parents. They met and married in Washington, DC, in the 1940s after migrating from the South in search of better paying jobs. Together they raised three boys and two girls. My parents wanted their children to have opportunities that were not available to them growing up in the segregated South. They stressed the importance of faithfully serving God, paying tithes, and honest work. These were the cornerstones of the Black community in which I grew up. My parents exemplified their beliefs by holding various church offices, paying off their mortgage, helping those in need, and serving in the federal government. My mother worked for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for over 40 years and retired as a clerical supervisor. My father retired as a Freight Rate Specialist from the General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office) after 35 years.  

Spotlight on Commerce: Helena Carapellatti, Statistician, U.S. Census Bureau

Helena Carapellatti was awarded a 2012 Public Service Recognition Award for Diversity Champion and Leadership by Census Director Bob Groves and Deputy Director & Chief Operation Officer Tom Mesenbourg, Jr.

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Helena Carapellatti, Statistician, U.S. Census Bureau

I work as a statistician in the Human Resources Division at the U.S. Census Bureau and my responsibilities include reporting on Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results for the bureau and working on policies and issues related to excepted-service field data collection employees.

I grew up on the Navajo reservation spanning parts of New Mexico and Colorado. We lived off the grid and were ranchers with livestock that needed daily attention. Summers meant camping on the outer parts of our land and sleeping under a blanket of stars.  We explored on horseback and lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle free from the world outside the traditional Navajo culture. This lifestyle meant my brothers and I learned to be responsible and self-sufficient at an early age. Being the only girl in the family meant I had to be fearless if I wanted to keep up with all my brothers.

When I graduated high school, there were no opportunities on the reservation so I enlisted in the military. The military offered me an opportunity to pursue higher education and to serve in an honorable profession. I started going to school part-time and got an Associates degree in Logistics with the Community College of the Air Force. Later I got a B.S., in Social Science with a minor in Journalism. I made some lasting friendships and after 25 years, I retired and completed my M.A. in Applied Sociology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Outside the workplace, I help my husband with our small business most weekends. When you are in business, you have to be willing to adapt so you can provide the type of service that sets you apart.  We have to network, be informed and sensitive to the economy just like our customers so it is a constant balancing act to remain competitive in an ever-changing market.

Spotlight on Commerce: Gabriel Sanchez, Improving Operational Efficiency Program Manager, U.S. Census Bureau

Gabriel Sanchez, Improving Operational Efficiency Program Manager, U.S. Census Bureau

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Gabriel Sanchez, Improving Operational Efficiency Program Manager, U.S. Census Bureau

The Improving Operational Efficiency (IOE) program at the U.S. Census Bureau harvests ideas from employees and brings cost saving and efficiency-improving innovation to executive staff for possible investment. The program has invested in 109 projects in the last three years and saved more than $32 million. I am currently revamping the program to streamline and improve metrics, objectives, performance and the harvesting of ideas.

There are several overarching themes within my current responsibilities that relate to the President’s blueprint for America — innovation, efficiency, saving money, avoiding costs, streamlining processes, and creating projects that add strategic value to the organization. By spurring innovation and improving operational efficiency, my program helps government run more efficiently and do more with less.

In my varied career since joining the Department of Commerce in 1998, I have worked in five of the Census Bureau’s12 regional offices as well as the headquarters building in Suitland, Md. My previous position — director of the Dallas Regional Office — was the most challenging, as at the peak of operations during the 2010 Census, it had 111,000 employees in 51 local census offices. I led the enumeration of more than 33 million people while dealing with 45 congressional districts and four of the 10 most populous cities in the country.

I was born in Uruguay and immigrated to the United States at the age of eight. I was raised in New York City, but I have been fortunate to live in various places around the country, which helped ratchet down the big city experience. I was very proud of my heritage when I became the first-ever foreign-born regional director of the Census Bureau. Still, I keep searching for another Uruguayan in the Commerce Department.

Spotlight on Commerce: Jorge Ponce, Director of the Policy and Evaluation Division, Department of Commerce Office of Civil Rights

Jorge Ponce, Director Policy and Evaluation Division, Office of Civil Rights U.S. Department of Commerce

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Jorge Ponce, Director Policy and Evaluation Division, Office of Civil Rights U.S. Department of Commerce

Cuba is my birth place. My parents, my sister and I left our homeland for the United States when I was 11 years old in search of freedom. No, I did not come in a raft as I have strong allergies to shark-infested waters! While most people think that if you are Cuban, you must be from Cuban Mecca Miami, I am an anomaly to this assumption. I grew up in Arlington, Virginia, and attended St. Thomas More Elementary School, Bishop O’Connell High School, and graduated from Washington-Lee High School. Subsequently, I attended George Mason University, and completed my graduate studies at Catholic University.   

This year’s celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month is an important one in our history as we celebrated the 500th anniversary of the landing of Juan Ponce de Leon in Florida.

I consider myself to be a civil rights champion. As such, I’ve co-chaired the Council of Federal EEO and Civil Rights Executives from 2001 to 2012, and maintained its webpage. I have met with the top leadership of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management regularly to address civil rights issues in the Federal Government.  

Spotlight on Commerce: Frederick Steckler, Chief Administrative Officer, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Frederick Steckler, Chief Administrative Officer, USPTO

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Frederick Steckler, Chief Administrative Officer, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

As the Chief Administrative Officer for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) I am responsible for the delivery of all administrative service support functions for the USPTO including human capital strategy, human resource management, telework policy and programs, facilities management, safety and security, transportation, asset and records management.  I am fortunate to work with a team of nearly 200 professionals in the delivery of these vital services to our colleagues at the USPTO.  My team and I pride ourselves on being a customer-centric and service-oriented team.  

I was born in Cleveland, Ohio and when I was nine years old, after one particularly bad Cleveland winter, my mother, grandmother and I moved to Boca Raton, Florida. So I really grew up there.  I am a proud graduate of Boca Raton Community High School.  

After high school, I attended Duke University and earned a Bachelor’s degree in economics. Growing up near the water led to being interested in a career with the U.S. Navy. I was a member of the Duke Navy ROTC battalion and upon graduation was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy. My first station was as part of the commissioning crew of the USS Vandegrift (FFG-48). I later went on to serve as Second Company Officer at the U.S. Naval Academy and Executive Assistant to The Commandant of Midshipmen. I left the Navy in 1989 and went to work as a junior consultant for Coopers & Lybrand and while working earned a Master of Business Administration from The George Washington University. Today, I am married to my partner of 20 years, Robert Murphy, and we live in the District of Columbia with our black lab, Sammi Jo.

Spotlight on Commerce: Ronald Lorentzen, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Import Administration, ITA

Photo of Lorentzen at his desk

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Ronald Lorentzen, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Import Administration, International Trade Administration

As the career official responsible for the day-to-day management of Import Administration, I perform many roles: making the budgetary ends meet; acting as policy adviser plenipotentiary; being an “executive sponsor” of various projects; and serving frequently as a diplomatic counselor or empathetic ear to our organization’s staff and external stakeholders.

Import Administration’s core mission is to administer our nation’s antidumping and countervailing duty laws, which provide a remedy–typically, via a special import tariff–to help U.S. industries that are injured as a result of unfairly traded imports.  These remedies are determined through quasi-judicial investigations conducted under the close scrutiny of the courts and the World Trade Organization. While the process is sanctioned by international trade rules and receives broad support from the Congress, the outcome of any given investigation can displease the domestic industry, the foreign exporters, the foreign government(s) and–in many cases–all of the above. You have to have a thick skin to do my kind of work. But the work itself can be intellectually fascinating, impinging upon some of the most controversial trade policy issues and of make-or-break importance to the survival of many U.S. businesses and the livelihoods of many Americans.

How did I get here? I was born in northeastern Ohio and grew up in Indiana and Illinois, graduating from Bradley University in Peoria, IL, with a B.A. in French and international relations. I had no clue when I was in high school that one could specialize in such a field, but I think that my sense of being “different” led me to explore that possibility and the options that it might present. That led to a junior year of college at the Sorbonne in Paris, which in turn convinced me that I must continue in this field and find another chance at further study abroad. I was accepted by the Johns Hopkins School of International Studies M.A. program and packed my bags for a year at SAIS’s center in Bologna, Italy, with my second year bringing me to Washington–my home ever since. I can see more clearly now that my scholarly interests spoke to the calling that I had to understand and interact with people of different cultures, but the experience of living abroad was profoundly transformative in liberating me from my own, often self-imposed limitations as a gay man.