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Until October 15, we are celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month. The Latino community has given us so many traditions, so much culture and history, and also countless achievements, particularly when it comes to serving our great country. As the first Latina Director of the Office of Personnel Management, I see it as my mission to continue this tradition of service and to carry on a proud legacy.

So for me, Hispanic Heritage Month is about honoring the Latino government leaders who have come before me. I stand on the shoulders of the first Latino Cabinet member, Lauro Cavazos and Antonia Cello Novella, the first Hispanic U.S. Surgeon General (and the first woman to hold that position). I also have the honor of standing on the shoulders of my friends and mentors, including Federico Pena, who was Secretary of two departments – Transportation and Energy; of Henry Cisneros, the first Latino HUD Secretary, of Ken Salazar who led the Interior Department and of Bill Richardson, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Secretary of Energy. And of course, I am lucky enough to stand on the shoulders of Hilda Solis, the first Latina to head the Department of Labor and my boss when I served as her chief of staff.

These fine leaders made it possible for me to lead OPM, for Secretary Perez to be leading the Department of Labor, for Secretary Castro to be heading HUD, and for Maria Contreras-Sweet to be the Administrator of the Small Business Administration.

What once we thought was the impossible is now the routine. There is never going to be a time in Federal leadership when Latinos are not going to be represented.
But we need to work to not only continue this progress, but also to make sure Latinos, and people from every underrepresented community, are present at every decision-making table. It is crucial that we have diversity at every level of Federal service.

As OPM Director, this is one of my most important goals. And one of the best ways to ensure that the Federal workforce better reflects the people it serves is for us to transform the way the government recruits and attracts the next generation of Federal employees.

To better attract Latinos to government, I’ve been working with OPM’s Hispanic Council on Federal Employment. The council is focusing on two areas, the Senior Executive Service and recruitment, especially at colleges and universities.

I have been to 11 colleges and universities around the country, including seven Hispanic- serving Institutions. We are working with these colleges and universities to help them match their curriculums to the needs of our 21st Century Federal workforce.

OPM is also enhancing the tools we are using to attract a diverse Federal workforce, particularly when it comes to Millennials. I know that Latinos, especially the young, are heavy users of social media. So we are going to them on the platforms they use instead of waiting for them to come to us. We’re also putting job descriptions in plain language and using humor and graphics to make sure the outreach is friendly, appropriate, and well received.

We still have a lot to do and we’re working our hardest to ensure that every community is represented in government. So, as we continue to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, let’s honor together the accomplishments of those who have paved the way for the Latino community. And let’s make sure to pay it forward by working to ensure we recruit the next generation of Latino leaders for the Federal government.
 

 

 


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