Posted at 10:51 AM
Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting the contributions of Department of Commerce employees during Hispanic Heritage Month.
Guest blog post by Juan Lara, Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, U.S. Census Bureau
Hispanic Heritage Month provides an opportunity to highlight the many cultures that are part of the fabric of our great nation. It also is a great time to recognize the achievements and contributions of many talented individuals. As America’s population continues to grow, working at the U.S. Census Bureau is a great place to observe the changes taking place in our society. Every day, I feel fortunate to work with a wonderful cadre of dedicated professionals.
As part of the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Census Bureau, I work to connect our agency with local government organizations in order to increase awareness and participation in the Decennial Census and other programs. I work on activities related to the 2020 Census Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) and the Center for Administrative Records Research and Applications (CARRA). I am in daily contact with local leaders across the country who are working to ensure an accurate population count of our nation's population. Census statistics guide the allocation of more than $675 billion in funds annually for infrastructure, programs and services to communities across America. In addition to working with state governments, I arrange periodic briefings for Congress on the Census Bureau's reports on America's veterans.
I was born in a small town in Texas and raised by a family with a “can do” attitude, which over the years has served me well. Our town was about helping friends and neighbors and during my life, I have strived to be of service. Following high school, I attended Marion Military Institute (MMI) in Alabama where I was commissioned as a military officer. After MMI, I joined my mechanized infantry unit in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
After going to school in Alabama and Texas, I headed north to law school. Getting a law degree from Capital University Law School opened even more doors and allowed me to further my career including assisting the under-served populations at the state and national level and gave me the incredible opportunity to run a state agency and work with people from all walks of life.
Over the years I have been employed by: the U.S. military, a state government agency, for-profit and non-profit organizations, a congressional committee, and a federal agency. I have had many mentors and received advice from many talented individuals. The advice of one person, which still resonates with me today, came from a former military commander who said, “there is a time and place for everything.” Over the years, I've come to realize there is a time and place to celebrate, to study, and work and do the many worthwhile things. Finding an optimal balance between professional and personal pursuits is challenging but it can be done.