Carmen Nazario knows about the condition of children and families in America probably as well as anyone. As the newly appointed Assistant Secretary for Children and Families, Ms. Nazario is on the front lines of delivering services to the nation's most vulnerable populations.
In that capacity, Ms. Nazario is seeking to eliminate bureaucratic red tape and streamline the organization's processes, to make the $58 billion department run more efficiently.
"I have tried to develop these programs in a way that is more responsive to the needs of children and families, especially in these times of economic difficulty," Ms. Nazario told HispanicBusiness Magazine.
Ms. Nazario is one of HispanicBusiness Magazine's 2010 Woman of the Year finalists.
One of President Obama's several minority appointees, Ms. Nazario draws a major contrast to the previous administration.
"The way this government is doing things now is very different," Ms. Nazario said. "We are more transparent. Working with our partners is a new thing."
Among the new initiatives are efforts to team across inter-agencies, such as the Department of Labor, Education and Agriculture.
"Our work is no longer in a silo," Ms. Nazario said. "We really are demonstrating that we are very collaborative. It is better to work that way, not only do you maximize resources, but you get a much better product."
Her commitment to the nation's next generation of leaders dates back much farther than her 2009 presidential appointment to her current position.
Ms. Nazario joined the Clinton Administration in 1997 after serving as Secretary of Health and Social Services for the State of Delaware from 1993-1997. During the Clinton Administration, she first served as associate commissioner for Child Care in the Administration on Children, Youth and Families and later became the principal deputy assistant secretary at the Administration for Children and Families.
Prior to her government work in the United States, Ms. Nazario spent a decade in the 1980s as an Assistant Professor at the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, where she taught social policy.
She has also served as the senior resident investigator for the Jordan Poverty Alleviation Program, where she developed and implemented a national poverty reduction strategy for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and advised leaders in the nation on the delivery of social services.
From 2003 to 2008, also worked as Administrator of the Administration for Children and Families for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, where she led an agency with a budget of $220 million.
"The thing that I would say about Puerto Rico is that despite the budgetary constraints and the lack of IT sophistication, the quality of the work can stand up to anything. I have to admire the spirit and dedication of many workers," she said.
All of her work in the public and private sectors made her an clear choice for her new role in 2010.
"Carmen Nazario has a distinguished record of more than 40 years working in human services at every level of government, as well as in the private and non-profit sectors," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in a statement. "She has devoted her career to developing and implementing programs that promote the well-being of children and families."
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