Posted at 12:25 PM
Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to the Open for Business Agenda.
Guest blog post by Paulina Montanez, Special Advisor, Office of the Secretary, Executive Secretariat Office
First, in light of the recent tragedy at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, I ask that readers reflect on how much work is still left to do to achieve true equality in the U.S, especially for LGBT people of color. There remain many things beyond the right to marry that must be addressed to ensure every part of the L-G-B-T community is free to live safe and happy lives.
As Special Advisor in the Executive Secretariat Office, I am part of a small team that manages the process by which all 12 bureaus of Commerce provide the Secretary and Deputy Secretary with top-quality and substantive briefing materials. I work closely with the Secretary’s and Deputy Secretary’s scheduling team to assign, track and edit briefing memos to ultimately produce a briefing book delivered each day. In addition to my daily duties, I am also responsible for managing the briefing material process for a number of the Secretary’s domestic and international trips to ensure her time away is productive. Lastly, I manage special projects regarding correspondence in and out of the Secretary’s and Deputy Secretary’s offices.
I grew up in Sacramento, California in a fairly diverse and urban community. My parents gained U.S. citizenship early in my life and passed on their pride for civic involvement and hard work by encouraging me to be a self-advocate in my community. I became involved in local government during high school, starting as an intern for my city councilmember and later served on the board of my neighborhood association. During this time, I learned the importance of getting involved in shaping a direct and responsive government, especially at the local level. So, I chose to study political science and urban planning at the University of California, San Diego. In my last year of college, I spent a quarter interning in Washington, DC. After graduation, I returned immediately to continue learning from and participating in the political process. I spent time assisting policy research, working for a Political Action Committee and later facilitating logistics for Democratic House races before joining Commerce.
During my time at Commerce and with the Obama Administration, the opportunity to be a self-starter in pursuit of economic prosperity has proven to be a clear path towards improving one’s quality of life and that of our communities. I am proud my work supports and ensures that the Secretary and Deputy Secretary have what they need to promote the President’s vision for American innovation and entrepreneurship with the help of dedicated public servants in Commerce’s bureaus.
Pride month is particularly special to me because of its history as a revolutionary act started by a group of queer people of color who demanded respect and asserted their agency as individuals. In this spirit, it is important to remember we all have a chance and right to advocate for ourselves and for those we love. There are many ways to become involved in the political process, the path I chose as a public servant in the federal government fit my strengths. For LGBT youth who are interested in or considering a career in public service, look broadly at what interests you and at the places where you are not represented; you have a unique perspective to contribute to that space.