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Spotlight on Commerce: Paula Paixao e Silva Zarazinski, Attorney Advisor, Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP), Office of General Counsel

Guest blog post by Paula Paixao e Silva Zarazinski, Attorney Advisor, Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP), Office of General Counsel

Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate but also a time to listen and share. I am truly honored to have the opportunity to join so many voices this month to tell my own story of hope, resilience, and diversity. My name is Paula Paixao e Silva Zarazinski. I am an Attorney Advisor with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP). I work closely with governments in the Middle East and North Africa as they implement commercial law reforms to improve their business environment, creating economic opportunities for their own citizens while also leveling the playing field for U.S. businesses. I absolutely love what I do, our mission, and the diversity and dedication of our team. I am also inspired by the success stories I hear daily, like the young woman in Algeria running a successful technology start-up after attending our entrepreneurship programs.

These stories also remind me of my own. I was born in Manaus, a Brazilian town surrounded by the Amazon rainforest. As the first in my family to venture out of the country, I experienced many feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy, especially as an attorney navigating a male-dominated field. My family and my community, including indigenous groups like the one from which I descend, remain a source of strength and courage. They also are the reason I committed myself at a very young age to pursue a path of public service and learn about the world as much as possible. This commitment allowed me to build a legal career over the past ten years focused on promoting the rule of law and good governance, while providing opportunities for women and other underserved communities around the world.

As I reflect on Women’s History Month and my own trajectory, I am filled with gratitude for those who came before me. I am reminded of my unique position and responsibility - as a woman of color, first-generation American, mother, attorney, and civil servant - to break down barriers and build up opportunities for those who will come after. I am also filled with hope of a future where women and girls who look like me can dream big and succeed in a more inclusive and just society. To be able to contribute to that vision at Commerce alongside the amazing women here and abroad has been the greatest honor of my career. I am humbled to share my story this month, while standing on the shoulders of courageous women whose stories have not always been told.  

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting the contributions of women at the Department of Commerce in honor of Women's History Month.

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