News Column

Hispanic Outreach Takes Off

April 2003, HISPANIC BUSINESS Magazine

Janet Perez

Perhaps mindful of Hispanics' growing profile in the United States, some federal agencies are ramping up their Hispanic recruitment and retention programs.

Among the agencies making impressive strides in their Hispanic outreach efforts is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In 2001, the agency hired a full-time national Hispanic employment program manager for its Office of Civil Rights. J. Carlos Manduley immediately set to work developing a national, multicultural recruitment and outreach Web site. The resulting site can be accessed via (, Hispanic Business magazine's diversity recruitment site.

"We are excited about the prospects of connecting with diverse applicants through the Web site, where over 5,000 FAA positions have been posted over the last year," says Fanny Rivera, assistant administrator for civil rights and the FAA's diversity advocate. "Our hope is that Hispanics and other minorities will apply for our jobs and come to work for the FAA."

In addition, the FAA's Office of Human Resource Management has issued a recruitment plan to bring greater visibility to the agency's Hispanic employment recruitment efforts. The plan calls for taking advantage of all recruitment opportunities, including establishing contacts with predominantly Hispanic universities.

"We have had certain successes that we are very excited about," says Ms. Rivera. "I'm happy to say that for the first time, we have 12 Hispanic senior executives in the FAA. This is very significant, considering that just three years ago we had five."

The FAA also is concentrating on hiring more Hispanics for entry-level positions and preparing them to rise within the agency, Ms. Rivera says. In 1999, Hispanics accounted for 4.9 percent of FAA employees. Last year, they accounted for 5.2 percent.

Mr. Manduley says he was able to recruit 50 interns nationwide last fiscal year, through the help of 11 regional Hispanic employment managers in the field. Job fairs were held to recruit air traffic controllers, and ads also were placed in Hispanic newspapers and aired on the radio.

"I think things are slowly moving along, and I'm very, very pleased to be part of this organization," he says.

According to Ms. Rivera, another organization that has been crucial in expanding the FAA's Hispanic recruitment efforts is the agency's National Hispanic Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees, which predates the FAA's latest minority hiring programs.

Adolfo Zavala is national president of the coalition and an operations manager at the FAA's Seattle air traffic control center. He has been with the agency for 20 years and has seen firsthand how the coalition helps minority employees thrive at the agency.

"Our organization is crucial to retention," he says. "We have a chapter at our tech center facility in New Jersey that helps new employees with housing and assists them with everything they need after initial employment, so they can work to the best of their ability."

The group also sponsors an unofficial mentoring program whereby Hispanics assist other Hispanics within the agency.

"It provided me with mentors who could give me advice," Mr. Zavala says. "It also provided the opportunity for additional training – leadership opportunities that I may not have had in my specific job. It was very critical in keeping me with the FAA. It made the job more attractive."

Despite the Bush administration's general ambivalence toward affirmative action, minority-hiring programs such as the one in place at the FAA continue to evolve, because under the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, agencies are required to engage in recruitment efforts aimed at eliminating underrepresentation of minorities and women in the government workforce, says Katherine Naff, associate professor of public administration at San Francisco State University and an expert in government minority-hiring efforts.

"Agencies don't necessarily respond to an administration that is anti–affirmative action," she says. "First of all, I don't think [President Bush] has actually come out and been as vocal on that front as, say, Reagan was. But agencies pretty much go about implementing the programs that are required, whether an administration is very enthusiastic about that or not. One thing that I admire about the FAA is that they don't back down from the importance of achieving a diverse workforce or engaging in affirmative action."


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