Commerce.gov is getting a facelift soon. See the new design.
Syndicate content

Blog Category: Spotlight on Commerce

Spotlight on Commerce: Michelle O'Neill, Deputy Under Secretary for International Trade

Michelle O'Neill, Deputy Under Secretary for International Trade

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.

Michelle O'Neill has been serving as Deputy Under Secretary for International Trade since November 2005.

I started my career in ITA as an intern in 1983 -- looking up tariff rates in Latin American countries for companies that called in.  Many of you are probably amazed that anyone could spend so many years in one organization, but during this course of time, I have moved around quite a bit across ITA – at least eight official jobs spanning our five business units.  These experiences have given me a deeper appreciation of what we can do as an organization to advance U.S. business interests globally.  Five Administrations, 11 Secretaries of Commerce, and 12 Under Secretaries of International Trade later, I am still as passionate for advancing fair and free trade today as when I first arrived in Washington.  (And I never imagined that I would be part of the organization’s leadership team!)

When I started my career in international trade, U.S. exports were $205 billion. Today, we export more than five times that amount, totaling more than $1 trillion worth in goods and services exports.  While we remain the number one exporter of goods and services, the volume of global trade has grown substantially over this period of time, and with that comes some challenges – and in many ways, the same challenges.  Back in the 1980s, the big concern was the $58 billion trade deficit and what we could do about it; today our trade deficit is nearly $380 billion – still a concern.  It’s been very interesting for me as a career civil servant, implementing and shaping trade policy across five Administrations. In many ways, I think the importance of international trade has stood the test of time with bipartisan support for increased trade liberalization, to varying degrees, across every Administration in my career. When I officially started ITA in 1987, the Uruguay Round had just begun; now we are in the midst of trying to bring a close to the Doha Round.  There was only one Free Trade Agreement in place with Israel. Now we have 17 FTAs in force – and hopefully three more in the horizon.  While the issues we debated have evolved -- reflecting changes in industry, new business models, and future technologies -- there has been general agreement that an open and competitive global marketplace is good for citizens, consumers, businesses, and governments.

Spotlight on Commerce: Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Under Secretary and Administrator for NOAA

Dr. Lubchenco Oversees Seafood Sampling After the Deepwater Horizon Spill

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.

Dr. Jane Lubchenco is the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

At NOAA, science underpins all that we do. One reason that I am so proud to serve as the under secretary for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator is the track record of excellent science at our agency, our focus on delivering essential services based on that science, and the Obama Administration’s commitment to making policy and management decisions informed by the best science available.  

When I first met with then President-elect Obama in mid-December 2008, we discussed ways that NOAA could provide America the best climate change science, restore her ocean’s vitality, provide the best possible weather forecasts and disaster warnings, and help our nation transition to more sustainable ways of living. After asking some very perceptive questions, his comment was simply, “Let’s do it!” Now, how refreshing is that?

As NOAA administrator, my responsibilities include promoting and enabling the science of oceans and the atmosphere; using science to provide services to save lives and property and enable the creation of jobs; and using science in our mission to be good stewards of oceans, coasts, the atmosphere and the planet.  

Spotlight on Commerce: Dr. Rebecca Blank, Acting Deputy Secretary and Undersecretary for Economic Affairs

Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank speaks to Census 2010 crowd

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.

Dr. Rebecca Blank is the Acting Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce and Undersecretary for Economic Affairs

As the Acting Deputy Secretary, I focus on matters of management and policy for the Commerce Department’s 12 bureaus, functioning as the department’s chief operating officer.  In this role, I oversee the central departments that coordinate DOC’s work on budgets, acquisitions, human resources, facilities, and other management issues.  I also retain my role as Undersecretary for Economic Affairs and head of the Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA), in which I oversee a talented staff of demographers, statisticians, and others at the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The statistical agencies within Commerce collect and analyze data that help to give us an accurate and complete picture of America and guide social and economic policy in the United States.

Since taking the role of Acting Deputy Secretary at the department, I feel even more responsible for helping America to “Win the Future.” This will require effective work by Commerce’s agencies to assist in growing U.S. exports, promoting domestic economic development, encouraging innovation, collecting and disseminating vital economic data, and advancing a sustainable environment in America’s oceans and atmosphere.  In the midst of tight budgets, we all recognize the need to make responsible choices about the services and programs that government provides.  But we also recognize that many of these services and programs are central to helping America’s businesses and consumers grow and stay competitive.

Spotlight on Commerce: April Boyd, Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

April Boyd, Assistant Secretary 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.

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.  

Spotlight on Commerce: Ellen Moran, Chief of Staff

Ellen Moran, Chief of Staff, Department of Commerce

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.

Ellen Moran is the Chief of Staff for Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

As Chief of Staff I run the office of the Secretary, and ensure Secretary Locke’s priorities and initiatives are executed by the Department. I work with the Secretary daily managing his workload and departmental staff to assist him with carrying out the President’s vision for “Winning the Future.” Whether it is through launching the National Export Initiative or completing the 2010 Census on time and under budget, I make sure the department works efficiently and effectively to strengthen America’s economy through the Secretary’s vision.  

Through our work we also have the unique opportunity to help American small businesses first hand, including those run by women.  Just this month, Acting Deputy Secretary Becky Blank and the Economics and Statistics Administration released the first comprehensive federal report in decades on the conditions of “Women in America.” (PDF) The Department works continuously to address the challenges faced by women and girls especially in regard to the economic struggles they face. Through awarding startup grants or making export information and guidance available to those businesses ready to expand, the Commerce Department provides guidance daily to women entrepreneurs and business owners in order to foster the growth of the U.S. economy. Women have dramatically reshaped their role in the workforce over the past several decades and the U.S. economy will only benefit as more women continue to grow their businesses.

Spotlight on Commerce: Michelle Duff- Mitchell, Deputy Director for the International Trade Administration's National Export Initiative

 Michelle Duff-Mitchell, Deputy Director for the International Trade Administration's National Export Initiative

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.

Michelle Duff- Mitchell is the Deputy Director for the International Trade Administration's National Export Initiative at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Last year, President Obama launched the National Export Initiative (NEI) during his State of the Union Address, as a key component of his economic recovery agenda, setting the ambitious goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015 in order to support and sustain millions of American jobs.

In my role as Deputy Director for the NEI, I have the distinct pleasure of working on an issue that is very dear to me: ensuring America's competitiveness today and in the future.  And it's important to remember that at the center of this ability to compete are the contributions of African-American inventors, entrepreneurs, and intellectuals -- who we celebrate and honor during Black History Month and every month.

Today as the global marketplace expands and takes shape, it gives me great pleasure to continue in the legacy of my African-American forefathers and mothers through my work on the NEI.   As Deputy Director, I have the ability to help American companies find new and innovative ways to grow their sales in international markets and create employment opportunities for American workers.  As Secretary Locke often says, “As American companies sell more of their goods and services abroad, they will need to produce more, which means more good-paying American jobs for our workers.”  With only 1 percent of American companies exporting and only 58 percent of those businesses exporting to just one market, there is tremendous opportunity for America to strengthen our economic footing through the expansion of exports—meaning we aggressively compete for every contract and every job.

Spotlight on Commerce: Rick Wade, Senior Adviser and Deputy Chief of Staff

Wade speaking from lectern

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.

Rick Wade is a Senior Adviser and Deputy Chief of Staff for Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

During his recent State of the Union address, President Obama reminded us that in order to be competitive as a country, we need to “out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.”  One of the best ways we can celebrate Black History Month is to revive the spirit of past African American inventors and invest more in innovation and entrepreneurship.

It was back in 1907 when Booker T. Washington said, “every member of the race should strive to be successful in business, however humble that business might be.”  My work at the Department of Commerce provides me an opportunity to help businesses start, flourish and create high-skill, high-wage jobs.

Spotlight on Commerce: David Hinson, National Director of MBDA

David Hinson, Director of MBDA

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.

David Hinson is the National Director of the Minority Business Development Agency.

As I travel around the country, I am in awe of the tenacity and the indomitable spirit of minority business owners and their unwillingness to quit in the face of overwhelming odds. That’s the spirit that makes America great.

As the National Director of the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), I am proud to be a part of this Administration and a part of an Agency where our work helps to expand the U.S. economy and create new jobs through the historically underutilized minority business community.

I have the privilege of serving on the senior staff of the Secretary of Commerce and serving as Bureau Chief of MBDA, as well as engaging with various stakeholders, members of Congress, minority-owned and operated businesses, and nonprofit organizations that support minority business development across the nation.

MBDA is a national organization with more than 46 business centers in five regions, which generates nearly $4 billion in contracts and capital for minority-owned businesses. We also create thousands of jobs for all Americans and help save thousands of existing jobs.

Minority-owned firms are an engine of job creation for the U.S. economy, outpacing growth within the general business community for most of the last decade. Collectively, minority-owned businesses generate $1 trillion in economic output and create nearly 6 million jobs. They also possess almost $2.5 trillion in buying power.

My first introduction to business was as a child growing up in St. Louis, MO. I learned lessons about entrepreneurship from my next door neighbor who ran a small cookie distribution company from his home.  He taught me about the importance of inventory and business efficiencies. While I was a dreamer, who often thought about what people were doing in other countries, my parents’ neighbors and teachers taught me that simply dreaming wasn’t enough. Making dreams come to fruition requires true grit and determination.