Top 100 Influentials 2009 - D. C. Power Brokers
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D. C. Power Brokers

Sonia Sotomayor
Sonia Sotomayor   Supreme Court Justice

During her confirmation hearings this summer, Judge Sotomayor cut through all the speculation about her judicial appointments, and issues of fairness with an elegant statement: “I ask the hard questions, but I do it evenly for both sides.”

Through several days of grilling by members of he Senate, she held up admirably under the hot spotlight of the world’s media.

Her calm demeanor in the face of brutal criticism was no surprise to those who know her best. “Smart,” “compassionate,” “dynamic” and “quick on her feet” are how she has been described.

Years ago, her longtime friend, the late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, predicted that she would one day be named the first Hispanic to the Supreme Court. He was right. Judge Sotomayor has always led the way. When she entered Princeton in 1972, women had only been allowed on campus for a couple of years; there were only a few other Hispanic students, but not a single Hispanic professor or administrator on staff.

Ascending to the bench of the highest court in the land, the judge maintains her roots in the community; the bronx-born Yankee fan still likes to sit in the bleacher seats where she cheers on her favorite team.

Hilda Solis
Hilda Solis   Secretary of Labor

Confirmed as the Secretary of Labor on February 24 of this year, Hilda Solis is no stranger to Washington — or to labor issues. From 2001 to 2009 she had represented the 32nd Congressional District in California, and had distinguished her term with  her  leadership in  job creation and authoring the Green Jobs Act.

Lessons learned around the kitchen table are sometimes the ones that give direction to our lives. Such was the case with Secretary Solis, whose Mexican father was active with the Teamsters, and whose Nicaraguan mother worked on an assembly line in a Hispanic, working-class community in East Los Angeles. She witnessed first-hand the hard work and difficult conditions that characterize the employment of so many working families.

The soft-spoken, somewhat low-profile Secretary of Labor has a long, strong record of fighting for the working class: she was instrumental in raising the minimum wage during her days as a California state senator; she has fought efforts to weaken on-the-job safety requirements, and has supported the Employee Free Choice Act.

Ken Salazar
Ken Salazar   Secretary of the Interior

Secretary Ken Salazar has deep roots in the land of Colorado, and even deeper concerns for the nation’s public lands. Raised close to the earth on his family’s El Rancho Salazar, he learned first-hand the joys and challenges of the Great Outdoors.

The nation’s 50th Secretary of the Interior, and second Hispanic to hold the position, the well-qualified Secretary Salazar received unanimous support for his confirmation. He is charged with the responsibility of running the nation’s principal conservation agency and implementing strategies for its main goals, which include resource protection and use; recreation; serving communities and management excellence.

At a time when some of our wild and open spaces are threatened by development and exploitation, and economic considerations seem to drive every agenda, Secretary Salazar will be required to walk a fine line to balance so many special interests.
During his tenure as Colorado’s Attorney General, he established an Environmental Crimes Unit, which prosecuted, fined and jailed polluters.

The Honorable Vanessa Ruiz
The Honorable Vanessa Ruiz   Associate Judge, District of Columbia Court of Appeals

In 1982, then-lawyer Vanessa Ruiz was one of the first women to argue a case before the Supreme Court. She prevailed in the case, and has been charting a positive course ever since. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, the graduate of Wellesley and Georgetown Law Center was appointed to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in 1994 by President Bill Clinton. She was the first Hispanic to serve on the District’s highest court.

Judge Ruiz serves as the current president of the National Association of Women Judges, and is a member of the National Hispanic Bar Association, and the Hispanic Bar Association of D.C. She mentors Hispanic students and participates in conferences and programs designed to empower professsonal groups.

In 2001, Judge Ruiz was named Hispanic National Bar Association Judge of the Year, and this summer, she  received  the prestigious  Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award from the American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession.

Xavier Becerra
Xavier Becerra   Congressman

When a young Xavier Becerra decided to become the first member of his working-class family to graduate from college, he set lofty goals — and achieved them. He earned a BA in Economics at Stanford University in 1980 and a Juris Doctorate from Stanford Law School in 1984.

Since he was first elected to serve in the House of Representatives in 1992, he has remained true to his roots as he represents the 31st Congressional District in the City of Los Angeles. As the powerful Vice-Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Becerra adds a strong voice in House leadership. 

The first Hispanic to serve on the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Becerra is committed to using his seniority to serve the interests of women and minorities and working families. He served as the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and is an active member of the group’s scholarship-awarding Institute.

Rep. Becerra’s constituent service includes up-to-date ways of communicating: he occasionally writes on his Becerra Blog, and delivers information regularly via the monthly Becerra Bulletin.

Ronald Blackburn-Moreno
Ronald Blackburn-Moreno   President and CEO, ASPIRA Association

Under the leadership of Mr. Blackburn-Moreno, the ASPIRA Association has grown into the largest national Hispanic organization in the country -the only one dedicated exclusively to the education and leadership development of Hispanic youth. A past chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, he has previously served on several advisory boards, including the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education and the Ford Foundation. Mr. Blackburn-Moreno speaks nationwide on education issues.

Roel Campos
Roel Campos   Partner, Cooley Godward Kronish

Mr. Campos advises corporate management teams and boards of directors on corporate governance matters. President Barack Obama named him to serve on his economic advisory board and transition team. Prior to his appointment, Mr. Campos was commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission, serving two terms under President George W. Bush. Mr. Campos began his career in the United States Air Force.

Adolfo Carrion
Adolfo Carrion   Director, the U.S. Department of Urban Affairs

Hailing from the Bronx – where he served as a schoolteacher, City Council Member and Borough President – Mr. Carrion is well qualified for his new position as the first Director of the White House Office on Urban Affairs. He is responsible for coordinating the cabinet agencies into an agenda for America’s cities. Mr. Carrion is the President of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

Gabriela Chavarria
Gabriela Chavarria   Director, Science Center, NRDC

Since her appointment to lead the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Science Center in 2006, Dr. Chavarria has used her experience in conservation biology and ecology to create awareness of a variety of environmental concerns. Top on her list is the global issue of climate change. One of the few Hispanic women to pursue high-level science, she offers her expertise in bee populations as related to develop solutions to environmental problems.

Raul Cisneros
Raul Cisneros   Chief Publicity Officer 2010, U.S. Census Bureau

Mr. Cisneros manages the 2010 Census paid media campaign in 28 languages, and provides support for a $312 million contract for advertising, public relations and partnerships with schools. Before joining the Census Office in 2008, Mr. Cisneros worked at the U.S. Small Business Administration, and for the state of California as an environmental engineer, assistant state treasurer and a member of the California State Senate's communications staff.

Luis C. DeBaca
Luis C. DeBaca   Director, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the Department of State

A former federal prosecutor, Mr. DeBaca was honored with the Attorney General's Distinguished Service Award after serving as lead trial counsel in the largest slavery prosecution in U.S. history. He has successfully prosecuted crimes related to sexual exploitation, farm labor, and factory work violations, and has also served as Counsel to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

Gabriella Gomez
Gabriella Gomez   Assistant Secretary, Legislation and Congressional Affairs

Ms. Gomez advises the secretary of education in a variety of areas. She has served as lead policy adviser on higher education on the Committee on Education and Labor. She spent five years as assistant director for the Department of Federal Legislation, advocating for the American Federation of Teachers. She has also served as an officer of the alumni association of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

David Lizarraga
David Lizarraga   Chairman, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

A longtime activist, Mr. Lizarraga has made a career of empowering communities. Mr. Lizarraga is president and CEO of the East Los Angeles Community Union (TELACU), a community development corporation that works with businesses to help individuals achieve stronger economic and social opportunities. Under Mr. Lizárraga's leadership, TELACU has become the largest Hispanic community and economic development corporation in the nation.

Mercedes Marquez
Mercedes Marquez   Assistant Secretary, Community Planning and Development

Ms. Marquez was sworn in on June 26, 2009. In her role, she is responsible for more than $7 billion in assistance to communities throughout America. She administers grant programs that serve the homeless. She also oversees the coordination of $30 billion in disaster recovery grants in the Gulf Coast. Before taking her national post, Marquez was general manager of the city of Los Angeles Housing Department.

Kathleen Martinez
Kathleen Martinez   Assistant Secretary, Disability Employment Policy

Blind since birth, Ms. Martinez advises the Secretary of Labor to create and manage policies regarding the employment of people with disabilities. Ms. Martinez is recognized as a disability rights leader specializing in employment, independent living, diversity and gender issues. In 2002, President George W. Bush appointed Ms. Martinez as one of 15 members of the National Council on Disability, advising on policies affecting those with disabilities.

Victor Mendez
Victor Mendez   Federal Highway Administrator

Mr.  Mendez became the Federal Highway Administrator in July, after serving as Director of the Arizona Department of Transportation for nearly 25 years. At the Arizona agency, Mr. Mendez worked to improve the agency's customer service in both its highway and motor vehicle divisions. Under his leadership, the Department of Transportation built the Regional Freeway System in the Phoenix area six years ahead of schedule.

Elizabeth Montoya
Elizabeth Montoya   Chief of Staff to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management

Ms. Montoya implements human resources management practices throughout the federal government. She has held posts as Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Energy, Associate Deputy Administrator for the Small Business Administration and Associate Director of Presidential Personnel. She previously served as a senior advisor at the Sealaska Corporation in Human Resources, strategic planning and program development.

Cecilia Munoz
Cecilia Munoz   Director, Intergovernmental Affairs, White House

With the responsibility for managing the Administration’s relationships with elected officials – including governors, mayors and heads of tribes and territories, Ms. Munoz is well-prepared for the task as an expert in domestic issues and public policy. Born to Bolivian immigrant parents, she received a MacArthur Foundation fellowship for her work in the area of immigration and civil rights.

Maria Otero
Maria Otero   Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs, U. S. Department of State

The Bolivian-born Ms. Otero is recognized world-wide as an authority in the field of microfinance, which has been such an effective way of providing assistance in developing countries. Before she joined the State Department, Ms. Otero served nine years as the President and CEO of ACCION International, a microfinance organization that grew exponentially under her leadership. She currently serves on the Council on Foreign Relations.

Carlos Pascual
Carlos Pascual   U.S. Ambassador to Mexico

Prior to his appointment by the U.S. Senate this summer, Mr. Pascual served 23 years in government posts, including the National Security Council and the United States Agency for International Development. He has specialized in helping countries rebuild following civil unrest, including Sudan, South Africa and Mozambique. In 2003, Mr. Pascual was coordinator for U.S. assistance to Europe and Eurasia, overseeing promotion of market-oriented solutions in societies in conflict.

Jose Riojas
Jose Riojas   Assistant Secretary for Operations, Security and Preparedness

Mr. Riojas directs U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Emergency Management, Security, and Law Enforcement Programs. Before his appointment, he was vice president of strategic initiatives in the area of border security, defense systems and economic development. He served 30 years in the U.S. Army, where he assumed the rank of Brigadier General. He also held several positions at the U.S. Pentagon. with the Department of Defense to support law enforcement.

Rosa Gumatatotao Rios
Rosa Gumatatotao Rios   United States Treasurer

Ms. Rios has a distinguished private sector career in money management. She worked at MacFarlane Partners as managing director of Investments. She specialized in facilitating equity transactions for mixed-use development projects in metropolitan areas. Earlier in her career, she was a principal for Red River Associates, a consulting firm that focuses on providing development, project management and executive management services to municipalities. Ms. Rios was confirmed as U.S. Treasurer on July 24.

Elena Rios
Elena Rios   President & CEO, National Hispanic Medical Association

Ms. Rios represents Hispanic physicians across the United States. She has lectured and published articles, received number awards from her peers and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Prior to her current position, she served as advisor for Regional and Minority Women’s Health for the Department of Health and Human Services. She also worked as a policy researcher for California’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.

John Sepulveda
John Sepulveda   Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Sepulveda serves as principal advisor to the Secretary, executive staff and human resources managers in labor relations, diversity management and equal employment opportunity. He has worked for more than 25 years in the public and private sectors. During the Clinton Administration, he worked as Deputy Director of the Office of Personnel Management, and led initiatives to promote diversity.

Juan Sepulveda
Juan Sepulveda   Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans

Mr. Sepulveda is charged with boosting the educational opportunities for Hispanic students by engaging their parents, families and civic organizations.  Mr. Sepulveda was president of The Common Enterprise, a nonprofit he founded in 1995 with a mission to help nonprofits, governments and businesses work together to address social problems facing communities.

Nancy Sutley
Nancy Sutley   Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality

Ms. Sutley serves as the No. 1 environmental policy adviser to the president; she was formerly the deputy mayor for Energy and Environment for the city of Los Angeles. She served on the California State Water Resources Control Board from 2003 to 2005 and advised Gov. Gray Davis on energy policy. During the Clinton adminstration, Ms. Sutley worked for the Environmental Protection Agency.

John Trasvina
John Trasvina   Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity

Responsible for enforcing federal laws involving housing, Mr. Trasvina served as General Counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, working to advance litigation and public policy in immigration, education and civil rights. Mr. Trasvina was the highest ranking Latino attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, serving as Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices.

Nydia Velasquez
Nydia Velasquez   Chairwoman, Hispanic Congressional Caucus

Unanimously re-elected to lead the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for the 111th Congress, Congresswoman Velasquez is serving her ninth term. She is focused on building a legislative agenda that expands opportunities for the nation’s 47 million Hispanics. She also serves on the Small Business Committee, where she was named Chairwoman in 2006, and the House Financial Services Committee.

Moises Vicente Vela Jr.
Moises Vicente Vela Jr.   Director of Management and Administration to Vice President Joe Biden

Mr. Vela has returned to the White House, where he formerly served as Vice President Al Gore’s Senior Advisor and coordinator of Hispanic outreach. Today he is responsible for running the office of Vice President Joe Biden. Mr. Vela’s commitment to the Hispanic community and public service has characterized his entire career.

Arturo Valenzuela
Arturo Valenzuela   Professor of Government and Director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Georgetown University

During the Clinton administration, Dr. Valenzuela served as the Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director for Intern-American Affairs at the National Security Council. In that role, he advised the president on defense, intelligence, economic and foreign policy issues concerning the Western Hemisphere.