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Spotlight on Commerce: Robin D. Bush, U.S. Economic Development Administration

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting the contributions of Department of Commerce employees during Black History Month.

Guest blog post by Robin D. Bush, LEED AP, Coordinator, Environmental & Strategic Analysis & Acting Area Director, U.S. Economic Development Administration

I manage the environmental program and the investment strategies of the Chicago Regional Office (CRO) of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). My primary responsibility is to administer the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act as they apply to programs of EDA within the six-state region of the CRO. I also advise CRO staff on strategies that guide EDA investments in the region. I represent the Chicago office on environmental related matters with state and federal regulators. I review and assess investments based on their applicability and conformance with NEPA and NHPA. I also, prepare and update the investment strategies and plans for the CRO and train staff on the strategies and plans.

I grew up in Buffalo, New York. I was bussed to elementary school and high school that was in a white, middle-class area because my parents thought I would get a better education. I really enjoyed the diversity of my elementary and high schools and thinking back it made me a better person. I decided I wanted to grow up and do something to make neighborhoods, communities, and cities more integrated, racially and economically.

I attended the University of Pittsburgh majoring in philosophy and politics. My initial thought was to become a lawyer and that way I could fight to ensure people could live in diverse stable neighborhoods. While applying to law schools, I discovered the field of city planning. I determined that studying city planning would be a better path for me in my endeavors. I attended the University of Pennsylvania for graduate studies in city planning. Eventually, I was hired as a Community Planner at EDA. Rising through various positions at EDA, I am currently enjoying the duties detailed to me as Acting Area Director.

I have thoroughly enjoyed working for EDA because our programs strive to assist the most distress areas of the country to make those economies stronger which will enhance neighborhoods, communities, and quality of life. EDA’s mission fits with what I had always wanted to do.

As a mother of two sons, I wanted to show the importance of being involved in community organizations and serving in leadership roles for various activities. I was the president of the Liberty Christian Young Adult Network, board president of the Oak Park Regional Housing Center, president of the Parent Teacher Organization at Beye Elementary, and co-president of the Parent Teacher Organization at Percy Julian Middle Schools. My husband also serves in various community organizations. Participating in these organizations instilled the importance of community involvement in our sons. Both of our sons have become involved in volunteering services and understand the importance of helping others in need and becoming leaders in the community. I felt it was important to instill this in my sons because it was a way to fight against the negative stereotypes young African American males have in this society.

Also, something that I have imparted to my sons is treating others how you want to be treated. This was something my mother taught me and being raised in “the church” laid the foundation of how I was raised. The Bible, with all the valuable lessons one can learn especially how to treat others, has also helped me overcome obstacles and prejudices I have come up against.

Black History Month is very important to me because it gives African Americans a platform to be recognized as great contributors to the American society. It also gives young African Americans a sense of pride to realize what their ancestors accomplished and that they have the ability and opportunity to accomplish even greater things in the American society.