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Blog Category: Spotlight on Commerce

Spotlight on Commerce: Carly Montoya, Director of Advance, Office of the Secretary

 Carly Montoya, Director of Advance, Office of 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 Carly Montoya, Director of Advance, Office of the Secretary

I grew up in Pueblo, Colorado.  My father, Jim, started off as a migrant farm worker and later put four children and my mom through college.   My mother, Pat, started off as a beautician and later went to college when I was in middle school while still raising four kids and helping my father provide for my family.  They did everything they could to support my family so that my brother, sisters and I would have opportunities that they never had.  Because of their sacrifices and their relentless determination, I graduated from Tufts University with a world of opportunities before me.  I chose a career in public service.  

There are a lot of different fields in public service, but advance is a field I was drawn to for one big reason:  Advance is a team effort.   Like my parents taught me, if one person fails, everyone fails.  If one person succeeds, we all succeed. 

Advance is the spoke in the wheel and where everything comes together.   It involves coordinating the objectives of the various departments and bureaus at the Department of Commerce so that the Secretary can engage people who are on the front lines of job creation across America and around the world.  It’s about communicating how the work that we do here at Commerce can nurture an environment where businesses and innovators can create jobs by building things here and selling them everywhere. 

Spotlight on Commerce: Danny Meza, Senior Adviser to the Under Secretary for Industry and Security

Danny Meza, Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for Industry and Security in the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs

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 Danny Meza, Senior Adviser to the Under Secretary for Industry and Security in the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs

As Senior Adviser to the Under Secretary for Industry and Security in the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs, I advise the Under Secretary on legislative matters that impact the administration of export controls under the Commerce Department’s jurisdiction.

I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. I grew up during a time when local community leaders like former San Antonio Mayor and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros, voter registration activist William C. Velasquez, and Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez worked to galvanize the Hispanic community by encouraging greater civic participation. Today, that same call to public service can be seen in leaders like Mayor Julian Castro and State Representative Joaquin Castro. The same call to public service led me to the Commerce Department in November of 2009.

Spotlight on Commerce: Ana Valentin, Statistician, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service

Ana Valentin, Survey Statistician, Fisheries Statistics Division of the Office of Science and Technology, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service.

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 Ana Valentin, Survey Statistician, Fisheries Statistics Division of the Office of Science and Technology, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service.

My dearest friend Albert Einstein said, "The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable receiving." Giving is the driver that motivated me to pursue a public service career.  My parents, who proudly retired from the Puerto Rico government, encouraged me to enter public service for our country. Being educated in the Puerto Rico public system and graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a bachelor in Secondary Math Education and a Masters in Public Health in Biostatistics, I prized the significance of professional education in the workplace. Today, as a doctoral candidate in Information Assurance, I embrace how diversity presents innovative solutions for the challenges of our competitive world market.

My career started in academia, where I worked as a clinical researcher in a School of Medicine, and mathematics, statistics and computer science professor for undergraduate and graduate programs in public and private universities. My experience in academia led me to accept a position as a survey statistician at the Census Bureau, where I revised statistical and mathematical protocols and the translation of census materials written in Spanish to assure the Agency’s mission. Through the observation of Spanish field interviews, I valued the contribution of Hispanics population into United States’ economy.  Currently, I work for the NOAA Fisheries Service, where I manage a survey that produces catch-effort estimates of recreational fishing activities and help oversee the budget allocated for recreational and commercial survey operations. As a Hispanic woman, I cherished the importance of a diverse workforce to outreach growing minority populations in accountability of fishery stock assessment and management in the United States and its territories.

Spotlight on Commerce: Cristina Bartolomei, Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist and Hispanic Employment Manager

Phot of Cristina Bartolomei with Video equipment

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 by Cristina Bartolomei, Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist and Hispanic Employment Program Manager at the Office of Civil Rights, Office of the Secretary

As an Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist and Hispanic Employment Program Manager for the Office of Civil Rights at the Office of the Secretary, I work every day to serve the Hispanic community and other minorities in and outside of Commerce to identify policies, practices and procedures that may enhance or hinder their equal representation within the Department.

Growing up in San Juan, Puerto Rico as the third child of four, my father often called me the defensora de los oprimidos or “defender of the oppressed,” as I always attempted to dissect and analyze sibling disagreements until the parties involved made peace with one another. My siblings didn’t seem too fond of me doing this and, looking back, I don’t blame them. It was in those days that I found myself daydreaming about being part of something bigger than myself, about doing something truly meaningful in the lives of others. 

Many years later, I find myself working for a Cabinet department in the Nation’s Capital, proudly serving the President of the United States. Every day I work with internal and external organizations to educate about and improve Hispanic-American representation at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Sometimes it feels as if I’m still daydreaming–but real it is, and this reality is ingrained in the choices we make.

Spotlight on Commerce: Malcolm Lee, Director of the Office of Policy and Strategic Planning

Portrait of Lee

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 an America Built to Last.

I am honored to serve as Counselor to the Secretary of Commerce, where I support Secretary Bryson and lead his Office of Policy and Strategic Planning.  I direct a team of policy advisors that works across the Department and Administration to implement President Obama’s America Built to Last blueprint through focus on a few key priorities:  increasing exports and investment, and strengthening U.S. manufacturing and innovation.  As Secretary Bryson has said, our mission at Commerce is to help American businesses “Build it here and sell it everywhere.”  As part of Secretary Locke and then Secretary Bryson’s senior staff, I have focused my time on economic relations with China, U.S. manufacturing and innovation, and cybersecurity.

I joined Commerce from Microsoft, where I directed international policy and strategy in headquarters, then moved to China as General Manager for China Policy and Strategy.  Prior to that, I served at the White House and State Department during the Clinton Administration as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, working on international trade, economic and technology policy.  

I graduated from Yale College, worked in the U.S. Senate, attended University of Pennsylvania Law School, then practiced trade law.  As a young lawyer, I served on the Immigration Committee of the Asian American Legal Defense Fund, and as pro bono General Counsel of the Organization of Chinese Americans.  Living in China in recent years, I was an elected governor of the American Chamber of Commerce in China and a member of the board of USITO, which represents U.S. technology companies in China.            

Spotlight on Commerce: Hari Sastry, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Resource Management

Hari Sastry, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Resource Management

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 an America Built to Last.

As Deputy Assistant Secretary for Resource Management, my main responsibility is to support the Office of the Secretary to link Budget, Performance, and Risk Management with the strategic direction of the Department. The budget for the Department of Commerce is approximately $8 billion and contains numerous Presidential priorities including trade promotion and advance manufacturing as well as programs of national security such as weather prediction and export control enforcement. Furthermore, we are working with each bureau to create a uniform enterprise risk management framework to improve Department’s ability to understand the status of major programs and make decisions based on that information. Our office plays a critical role in supporting the President’s agenda, as we use performance and risk information to formulate the budget in accordance with the Administration’s priorities. My favorite part of this job is that both policy formulation and implementation come together as budgets are formulated, allowing me to get a complete picture of how public policy works.

I was born and grew up in Chicago, IL. My parents emigrated from India in the early 1970s and have lived in the Chicago area for most of my life. I received a BS in Mathematics from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI, a Masters in Public Health from the University of Illinois-Chicago with a focus in Epidemiology, and moved to DC in 1997 to get a Masters in Public Policy from Georgetown University with a focus on health policy. I worked at the Office of Management and Budget for 11 years on veterans and military health issues prior to joining the Department of Commerce.

Spotlight on Commerce: Nishith Acharya, Director, Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship and Senior Adviser

Nishith Acharya, Director, Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship and Senior Adviser

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 an America Built to Last.

As Director of the Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, my main responsibility is to manage and coordinate efforts to commercialize more of the research that is funded by the federal government.  The US government provides about $150 billion in research funds to universities, labs and companies annually, and we are finding ways for support greater commercial application of that research to create successful companies and jobs. We support the President’s Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, work with over 500 universities around the country on issues of innovation and entrepreneurship, and run the i6 Challenge, which is a $1 million award to six different winners each – focused on creating more commercial ventures at our research institutes.

Our office plays a critical role in supporting the President’s agenda.  America’s greatest advantage is its innovation infrastructure and its deep culture of entrepreneurship.  Our office supports the development and implementation of programs and policies to enhance that.  This includes funding for innovation centers, coordination with universities and federal labs, and communication with entrepreneurs directly to understand their challenges and needs from the Administration.  Supporting innovation is critical for sectors such as manufacturing and energy, and entrepreneurship can never be taught too early.

I grew up in Wayland, MA, just outside of Boston.  My parents emigrated from India in the 1960’s and have lived in the Boston area for most of my life. I got my BS in Political Science and Economics from Northeastern University in Boston, MA. and then moved to DC to get my Master’s in Public Administration from the George Washington University with a specialization in international development.

Spotlight on Commerce: Karen Hyun, Senior Policy Adviser

Karen Hyun, Senior Policy Adviser

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 an America Built to Last.

At the Commerce Department, I have the privilege to serve as Secretary Bryson's senior policy adviser on energy and environment issues.  

My parents emigrated from Korea over forty years ago with a couple of suitcases and an incredible work ethic.  They eventually landed in a small town in eastern Pennsylvania, halfway between my dad's small business fixing electric motors and the Veterans' Administration medical center where my mom was a doctor.  My sisters and I were products of our parents' focus on education, independence, public service, and proximity to a good public school system.   

When I was in elementary school, my dad used to wait with me at the bus stop until the bus came to pick me up.  The only days when this did not happen were election days because my parents were already waiting in line at the polls.  Early on, they instilled in us the right and responsibility to vote.  Although it was years before I could vote, my curiosity on how democracy works was piqued at an early age.  

My parents probably wanted me to follow in their footsteps and be an engineer or a doctor, but I chose a major in Earth Systems at Stanford University.  Earth Systems is a major in environmental science and policy and I chose to focus on our ocean ecosystems.  This was my first foray into learning about public policy that led to a Ph.D. from the University of Rhode Island and several years on the Committee on Natural Resources in the U.S. House of Representatives.  

Spotlight on Commerce: Ellen Herbst, Senior Adviser to the Deputy Secretary

Ellen Herbst, Senior Advisor to the Deputy Secretary

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 an America Built to Last.

As Senior Adviser to the Deputy Secretary, I support accomplishment of the mission of all of our operating units.  My job requires a combination of problem-solving, coordinating across bureaus and offices, and connecting people to the resources they need to successfully deliver results to the American people.

Much of the time, this involves working to improve the way we do things–how to be more effective and efficient in our processes-and measuring our progress towards our goals. The work is always interesting because I get to work with very dedicated people who deliver results across the broad portfolio of the Commerce Department. The people of the Department of Commerce are delivering results in areas as diverse as supporting the growth of regional economic clusters; managing grants to build broadband networks; providing severe weather warnings earlier than ever before; delivering cutting edge measurement science and protecting our business’ intellectual property.

I have been working for 32 years and have been very fortunate in my career. My good fortune started with parents who supported all three of their daughters by setting high standards; by instilling a strong work ethic, perseverance and a “can do” attitude and by teaching us to live by the Golden Rule. I was fortunate to enjoy the process of learning and receive a wonderful formal education. And finally, I have been fortunate in the support of many mentors, both formal and informal, throughout my career.

Spotlight on Commerce: Deborah Cohn, Commissioner for Trademarks

Deborah Cohn, Commissioner for Trademarks

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 an America Built to Last.

As Commissioner for Trademarks at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), I oversee all aspects of the USPTO’s Trademarks organization including policy, operations and budget relating to trademark examination, registration and maintenance. The main functions of the Trademark office are the examination of applications for registration and the maintenance of those registrations. Trademarks are an important form of intellectual property that can be a company’s most valuable asset. Trademarks also serve a vital function in protecting consumers from confusion about the source of goods and services in the marketplace. 

I first joined the USPTO in 1983 as an examining attorney. I was extremely fortunate because trademark law was an area that I enjoyed in law school and government service was very appealing to me. At that time, the majority of examining attorneys were men, but today, 67 percent of our examining attorneys are women! This is due in part to an increasing number of women in law over the past few decades, but the high percentage of women is also due to the flexibility here at the USPTO which allows employees to successfully balance work and family life. Telework and flexible schedules allow employees to create the environment that works best for them.

Women’s History Month means a great deal to me. As women’s roles have changed and expanded, many occupations that were traditionally filled primarily by men have benefited from the great talent and hard work of women. Here at the USPTO, I have been lucky enough to work with some terrific leaders who happen to be women. For example, my former boss, former Commissioner Lynne Beresford, was a great mentor and role model.