Click here to view this year's list.
Like many Hispanics in government, Rosario Marin is a pioneer. Born in Mexico City, she moved to California with her family at age 14. For seven years, she juggled jobs and night classes to earn a college degree, vowing to be prepared when opportunity came knocking.
She never imagined that the President of the United States would someday be at that door. But he was, and today Ms. Marin is the new U.S. Treasurer, the first Mexican-born immigrant to hold the office.
"I was deeply moved by the honor that President Bush bestowed through me to all immigrants," she says. "In my appointment, an immigrant has been given the trust of the nation to produce and to protect the money of the most powerful country in the world."
Ms. Marin and 30 other Hispanics in government are represented in this year's HISPANIC BUSINESS 100 Most Influential Hispanics, a list that underscores the strides Hispanics are making in Washington, D.C., and the Bush administration. Thus far, Hispanics account for 10 percent of the Bush appointments requiring Senate approval.
Larry Gonzalez, Washington, D.C., director for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), says Mr. Bush has demonstrated a commitment to carrying the torch President Clinton lit when he began assembling a more diverse Cabinet and administration. Hispanics accounted for about 7 percent of President Clinton's Senate-confirmed appointments.
"Clinton's outreach efforts were tremendous," says Mr. Gonzalez. "He had a real affinity for the Hispanic community. The Hispanic community embraced him. President Clinton absolutely connected with them. And Bush has done a good job of trying to attract qualified Latinos to the administration."
These Hispanic appointees will not only be attuned to the needs of a community traditionally underrepresented; they also will serve as role models to young Hispanics and inspire them to pursue careers in public service, says Mr. Gonzalez.
"That's absolutely a part of it if you're a young Latino breaking into the profession, and you see people who look like you and may have experienced what you have working at the higher levels," he says. "It's extremely important for our young people to see people who have reached that level. It sends a very strong message. And also it's important to have people at the table who grew up in similar communities and experienced the same things. That's a tremendous advantage for us."
But Hispanic representation among political appointments still doesn't reflect their share of the U.S. population. About 12.5 percent of Americans are Hispanic, according to the latest Census data. They also account for 11.4 percent of the national work force, according to the Department of Labor.
In other words, the Bush Administration has more work to do.
"Let's put it this way," says Raymond Sanchez, the former speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives who was recently re-elected president of NALEO. "It's slowly but surely improving, but it's certainly not where it deserves to be in light of the number of truly talented and educated Hispanics we now have in the United States."
Mr. Gonzalez says that some federal agencies have fallen short in their Hispanic recruitment efforts. He wants the federal government to hire more Hispanics for lower-level jobs, because more than 50 percent of the federal work force is scheduled to retire in 2005.
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