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Blog Category: Spotlight on Commerce

Spotlight on Commerce: Angela M. Manso, Chief of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, U.S. Census Bureau

Portrait of Angela Manso

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.

Angela M. Manso is Chief of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Census Bureau

As Chief of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Census Bureau, I serve as the primary advisor to the Director of the Bureau regarding congressional and intergovernmental matters. 

I am one of three political appointees at the Census Bureau and one of nearly 15 Hispanic appointees at the U.S. Department of Commerce.  Growing up in the working class neighborhood of Villa Palmeras in Santurce, Puerto Rico, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would work for the President of the United States. 

While living with my grandmother, who read the paper and watched the evening news daily, I developed a healthy interest in current and foreign affairs.  The news reported about civil wars, dictatorships and coups happening all over Latin America and the Caribbean, and I couldn’t get enough of it.  I wanted to understand why these things were occurring and I haven’t stopped since. 

Spotlight on Commerce: Anna M. Gomez, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Deputy Administrator, NTIA

Photo of two outside

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.

Anna Gomez is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and the Deputy Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

As Deputy Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, I serve essentially as the Chief Operating Officer of the agency. Though much of my time is spent on management, I also work on public policy, especially the challenges of expanding broadband Internet use in underserved communities and improving communications for the nation’s first responders. I am honored to play a role in addressing issues that are so vital to our nation’s safety and economic future. 

My career path began early. I was born in the United States but spent most of my childhood in Bogota, Colombia, where my father’s family lives. I knew since childhood that I would one day become a lawyer because my mother always told me so. (I would like to think that she recognized in me a precocious talent for logic and deduction, but she was actually commenting on my willingness to argue a point!) I returned to the United States as a teen and did indeed go to law school. I am glad that I did because the law is a good foundation for a career in public service, though it is certainly not mandatory.

Spotlight on Commerce: William A. Ramos, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs

Spotlight on Commerce: William A. Ramos, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs

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.

William A. Ramos is the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs

As Director of Intergovernmental Affairs in the Office of the Secretary, I have the privilege to serve President Obama and the Department of Commerce Secretary promoting their policies, programs and initiatives with state and local elected officials as it relates to the 12 bureaus within the department.  In a city where politics and government looks inward toward Capitol Hill, I have the unique opportunity to look toward the 50 states and five territorial capitals, the 3,068 counties, and thousands of cities, townships and villages and their governmental associations.  From the 2010 Decennial Census, promoting the National Export Initiative, to NOAA’s work with governors and mayors and everything in between, the work with these elected and appointed officials is important to the President, the Secretary and to our nation. 

I do this work with the assistance and collaboration of 12 very dedicated Bureau Directors of Intergovernmental Affairs, who stand ready to assist state/local and territorial officials and their staffs to improve the understanding of the Department of Commerce’s critical work across the country and around the world by conducting outreach and education activities.

Prior to my appointment to the Obama Administration, I was Director of the Washington, DC office of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, leading a team that represented NALEO’s mission of empowering Latinos to fully participate in the American political process by advocating on Capitol Hill and the Administration on policy issues related to immigration, naturalization, the Census, voting rights protection and representation in the administration.  I began my career at ASPIRA of Florida, a youth leadership development organization, and have worked in governmental relations with America’s Promise – The Alliance for Youth and the YMCA of the USA here in Washington, DC.  I was also the Director of Policy and Legislation for a Miami-Dade County Commissioner.

Spotlight on Commerce: Alejandra Castillo, Deputy Director of the Minority Business Development Agency

Alejandra Y. Castillo is the National Deputy Director of the Minority Business Development Agency

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.

Alejandra Y. Castillo is the National Deputy Director of the Minority Business Development Agency.

Since joining the Minority Business Development Agency in April 2010, I serve as the principal advisor to the MBDA National Director and manage the day-to-day activities of the Agency’s 5 Regional Offices and 48 Minority Business Centers. These Offices and Business Centers are vital centers of economic growth and job creation. Under the Obama Administration, MBDA has assisted minority-owned firms in obtaining nearly $7 billion in contracts and capital, creating nearly 11,000 during the last two years.  As the National Deputy Director, I am also responsible for executing the Agency’s mission to help Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) grow and succeed through access to capital, access to contract and access to business opportunities both domestically and abroad.

Prior to MBDA, I served as Special Advisor to the Under Secretary for the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) where I was responsible for business outreach and development of policy initiatives geared at trade promotion and enforcement of U.S. trade laws. Before coming to the Department of Commerce, I was a practicing attorney for several years, working in the private, government and non-profit sector.  I also served as the Interim Executive Director of the Hispanic National Bar Association working with the White House and non-profit organization, such as the Latinos for a Fair Judiciary, in support of the nomination and confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court.

Spotlight on Commerce: John Gray, Director of NOAA's Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

John Gray, Director of NOAA’s Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

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.

Guest blog by John Gray, Director of NOAA’s Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs.

My father served in the U.S. military so as a child our family moved all over the world. I fondly remember my time in New Mexico, Texas, Washington state, and abroad in Panama and Japan. Even though I was a world traveler as a child, I found Texas to be home. I entered and graduated from Rice University in Houston, Texas and graduate school in Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. After college and graduate school I was recruited to work at the Congressional Research Service, a part of the Library of Congress that specifically responds to congressional inquiries.  I have held several jobs in Washington, in and out of government, but immediately before starting at NOAA I worked as the Public Outreach Director, Economics for AARP. Prior to that, I worked for almost 8 years at the Department of Commerce where I served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs among many other positions.

I feel very grateful to work in this administration to further the President’s goal of winning the future.  At NOAA we perform a variety of services that move the President’s agenda forward. In my role as Director of NOAA’s Office of Legislative Affairs, we help communicate that vision to the Hill every day, ensuring that members of both parties understand how NOAA’s daily weather forecasts, severe storm warnings and climate monitoring, fisheries management, coastal restoration and supporting marine commerce support America’s economic growth and affect more than one-third of the gross domestic product. I’m particularly proud of NOAA’s effort to establish a climate service, which will provide available information about long term weather for public and private sector audiences and will be a significant innovation in the service that government can provide its citizens. Our work to build sustainable fishing waters will ensure that coastal communities can remain viable.

Spotlight on Commerce: Jim Stowers, Director of Legislative Affairs

Jim Stowers, Director of Legislative Affairs

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.

Guest blog by Jim Stowers, Director of Legislative Affairs.

As Director of Legislative Affairs at the Department of Commerce, I serve as a senior advisor in the Office of the Secretary on legislative matters before Congress and other federal departments. 

My journey to this point in my career began about 25 years ago when I was growing up in Benton County, Arkansas and had the good fortune one Saturday evening to hear Senator Dale Bumpers speak at the annual Little Flock Picnic.  I don’t recall everything Senator Bumpers said in his speech that night, but I do recall being star struck by an exceptionally gifted speaker and inspired by his pursuit of the common good through public service. 

That moment - combined with my growing awareness of the political process and its importance – inspired me to pursue an internship in Senator Bumpers’ Washington office while I was in college and later serve for 12 years in the office of U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln.  Today, I feel blessed to have the opportunity to continue my public service in the Obama Administration at the Department of Commerce.   

Spotlight on Commerce: Suresh Kumar, Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and Director General for the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service

Suresh Kumar cutting a ribbon opening the Commercial Service Pavillion

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.

Suresh Kumar is the Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and Director General for the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service.

Asian Pacific American Month gives you time to reflect on your origin, your country of birth and learning through and across cultures.  It is conveying these assets, experiences and skills that build a better community and a better country.   At the U.S. Commercial Service, improving opportunities for American businesses domestically and abroad is what drives me.  It is why I'm behind President Obama's plan to win the future. To do so, we must out-innovate, out-educate and connect U.S. businesses to the 95% of consumers who live outside the U.S.  This is my key responsibility:  connecting U.S. businesses to global opportunities.  This lays the foundation for a strong, sustainable economy in the United States and beyond.

I am privileged to lead a service with almost 1500 trade professionals who assist American enterprises everyday to connect to global partners and to new markets.  Of the U.S.'s 30 million companies, only 1% or 280,000 companies export and of those who do, 58% export to only one market.  We can and we must do better, and it is this challenge and opportunity that the US&FCS trade specialists and I focus on each day.   This country needs more exporters and potential entrepreneurs and exporters amongst you do not have to go it alone - you have the full support of the U.S. Government in connecting you to global partners and global markets.

Spotlight on Commerce: Anita Ramasastry, Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance

Anita Ramasastry, Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance

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.

Anita Ramasastry is the Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance

In my role as the Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance, I develop and advance strategies to keep markets open for U.S. exporters. In the International Trade Administration, we do this by trying to reduce or eliminate trade barriers in other countries. Recently I was asked to establish a new initiative focused on preventing corruption in global trade. In addition, as part of the President’s National Export Initiative, I coordinate new strategies for increasing trade in six growing markets including Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey. I also am a member of the Commerce Department’s Internet Policy Task Force – tasked with promoting the growth of the knowledge economy and supporting our Internet and technology companies overseas. In this role, I have focused on how restrictions on Internet data flows can be a trade barrier, hindering innovation and competition in many markets.

Before coming to the International Trade Administration, I was a tenured law professor at the University of Washington, School of Law in Seattle, where I taught and researched commercial and banking law. My research focused on the impact of corruption on economic development in countries with natural resources.

President Obama has spoken of the devastating cost of corruption. And the need for change: “In too many places, the culture of the bribe is a brake on development and prosperity.  It discourages entrepreneurship, destroys public trust, and undermines the rule of law while stifling economic growth. With a new commitment to strengthening and enforcing rules against corruption, economic opportunity and prosperity will be more broadly shared.”

Spotlight on Commerce: Gary Locke, Secretary of Commerce

Secretary Locke Addresses the Committee of 100

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.

Gary Locke is the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

As we continue to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month, it is important for us to reflect on our past – the difficulties we had growing up in immigrant families, the accomplishments our community has achieved and the barriers we still need to knock down.

Being an Asian American now is certainly different from when I was growing up.  In the Ozzie and Harriet era in which I was born, I thought I had to choose between being Chinese and being American.  I remembered that most mornings, my grade school teacher would ask us what we had for breakfast.  If we had eaten anything that was considered “un-American” – in my case, it was the rice porridge with fish and vegetables that my mother gave me – my teacher would slap our hands with a ruler. 

When I was young, I constantly struggled between my desire to be more “American” and my parents’ attempt to make me more “Chinese”.  It took the civil rights movement to teach me that I could be both Chinese and American.  I could be Chinese-American.  I could be myself.  I could be loyal and patriotic to the Star-Spangled Banner and still eat with chopsticks. 

Spotlight on Commerce: Victoria Tung, Associate Director for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

Victoria Tung, Associate Director for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

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.

Victoria Tung is the Associate Director for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs and Senior Advisor on Asian American and Pacific Islander Affairs.

In my role, I advise Secretary Locke and our Assistant Secretaries on legislative issues and congressional relations, as well as outreach to state and local government. I manage these efforts and the Department’s relationships with eight congressional committees of jurisdiction across my portfolio, which includes economic development, census/economic analysis, minority business development, innovation and entrepreneurship and recovery act implementation.  Additionally, I advise Secretary Locke on Asian American and Pacific Islander issues and am working closely with the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to increase access to and participation in federal programs for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI).

Today, and throughout this entire month, we commemorate the courage and contributions of early Asian American and Pacific Islanders who journeyed to the United States, set up lives here against unbelievable odds and laid out roots for future generations.  I know that I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my great grandparents and grandparents who left China after the war in search of a better life for our family in America.  Their strength and perseverance continues to inspire me and is the story of many Asian American families in this country.  During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we honor the pioneers, the laborers, the veterans, the entrepreneurs, the trailblazers and the families – all who worked hard to open the doors of opportunity to a new generation.