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Commerce Concludes Successful Hispanic Heritage Month Showcasing Resources for Hispanic Business and Outstanding Hispanic Employees and Leaders

Throughout Hispanic Heritage Month, the Commerce Department and many of its agencies held events. They showcased employees on their blog and social media platforms highlighting their achievements and what Hispanic Heritage Month meant to them. The Commerce Department is proud to honor and will continue to honor the many diverse agencies and programs and the Hispanic community throughout the year.   

Following is a summary of some of the key activities in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month

Commerce Deputy Secretary Graves joined Assistant Secretary for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo in visiting ArepaZone DC, a local Hispanic-owned business in Washington, D.C. At the event, they led a roundtable discussion on the challenges facing Hispanic and other minority-owned business and talked about ways the Commerce Department, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and businesses can partner. Owner Gabriela Febres shared her story and the many obstacles they have overcome, thanks in part to relief programs such as the CARES Act and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Graves and Castillo praised Febres and other Hispanic and minority business owners for their strength and resilience throughout pandemic and for their ability to pivot their operations, ultimately helping to preserve local jobs. Read more about this event and resources EDA provides to the Hispanic community.

On the Commerce Department social media platforms and the Commerce blog, we showcased a few leaders who have made a significant contribution to the Commerce Department’s mission through their innovation, expertise, and entrepreneurship. The mission of Commerce is to drive business expansion and economic growth and accelerate American leadership in the areas of disaster science, invention, and entrepreneurship.  

We also showcased the valuable resources and services we offer to Hispanic entrepreneurs and Hispanic-owned businesses. Finally, we showcased employees from various Commerce bureaus through a social media campaign on Twitter.  

The Commerce Department’s Office of Civil Rights hosted the first “Cultural Café: ESPERANZA.” This virtual event highlighted Commerce Department employees and their Hispanic heritage journey via music, art displays, food videos, family traditions, and an employee interview. Economic Development Administration Regional Director Jorge D. Ayala provided opening remarks and Acting OCR Director Larry Beat provided closing remarks. Over 200 employees attended the event.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Throughout Hispanic Heritage Month, NIST shared stories of its Hispanic staff on social media, including the stories of postdoctoral associate Ashlee Aiello (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, NIST website) who studies the porosity of cotton; health physicist Jeffrey Herrera (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, NIST website), Manufacturing Extension Partnership resource manager José Colucci-Rios (LinkedIn) and physicist Ana Maria Rey (Facebook). We also told the story of Arthur Harry Neill, Jr., a physicist at NIST in the late 1960s and early 1970s, who worked with lasers and on tire traction research. The agency also highlighted disaster scientist Judith Mitrani-Resier, who is heading up the bureau’s investigation into the Champlain Towers South collapse in a Department of Commerce blog post. NIST staff also celebrated the month with several events, including a presentation by MIT professor Christine Ortiz; a classical guitar performance from Marlow Guitar International; and a seminar by NIST fellow Ana Maria Rey.

U.S. PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE (USPTO)

Throughout Hispanic Heritage Month, the USPTO shared stories of groundbreaking Hispanic innovators on social media, including Johnny Pacheco, musician, salsa music pioneer, and founder of Fania Records, in the USPTO’s Journeys of Innovation series.  The USPTO also held several special events, including its second annual Hispanic Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program on October 13, featuring Alejandra Castillo, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development at the U.S. Department of Commerce, Leandro Margulis, inventor of a durable radio-frequency identification device, and other notable Hispanic innovators. The same day, the Eastern Regional USPTO offered a program, both in Spanish and in English, on intellectual property resources for inventors and entrepreneurs, including COVID-19 relief and assistance efforts. (The USPTO regularly offers webinars in Spanish throughout the year, such as the Introducción a la Propiedad Intelectual series.) Earlier in the month, the USPTO chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers held a virtual discussion for employees with Dr. Ana Muñoz-Gonzalez, research scientist and teacher at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. Dr. Muñoz-Gonzalez was selected in 2021 as National Secondary Teacher of the Year by the Association of Two Way & Dual Language Education. The agency also highlighted some of its Hispanic employees on social media, who discussed what they enjoy about working at the USPTO.

The Hispanic American community is deeply rooted in the history of the United States and are an integral part of the rich fabric of our nation. True to our mission of creating the conditions for economic growth and opportunity—for all Americans—the Commerce Department works every day to support and invest in the Hispanic business community to create jobs and promote economic growth.