Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of winning the future through their work.
Angela M. Manso is Chief of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Census Bureau
As Chief of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Census Bureau, I serve as the primary advisor to the Director of the Bureau regarding congressional and intergovernmental matters.
I am one of three political appointees at the Census Bureau and one of nearly 15 Hispanic appointees at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Growing up in the working class neighborhood of Villa Palmeras in Santurce, Puerto Rico, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would work for the President of the United States.
While living with my grandmother, who read the paper and watched the evening news daily, I developed a healthy interest in current and foreign affairs. The news reported about civil wars, dictatorships and coups happening all over Latin America and the Caribbean, and I couldn’t get enough of it. I wanted to understand why these things were occurring and I haven’t stopped since.
After college, I imagined my future as a diplomat yet ended up working in the House of Representatives. I had the incredible opportunity to serve my country and my community first with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and later in the office of U.S. Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-TX), working on matters of national and international significance. It was the perfect platform to join the Obama administration and continue to serve both my country and the Latino community.
It wouldn’t seem like it but working for a statistical agency places me in a unique position to help advance the President’s agenda to win the future – by promoting the work of those who are telling our story of life in America. Statistics are a collection of data points that when taken together tell us about the socio-economic wellbeing of people and the communities they live in. We measure people, places and the economy – and tell the American story. We know that 20 percent of elementary and high-school students are Latino, we also know that Hispanic owned businesses grew to 2.3 million in 2007, and these generated nearly $345m in receipts. Statistics also showed us that 12 percent of college students (bachelors or graduate degree) were Latino. For Hispanics, the fastest growing segment of the population - 54 million at last count - telling our story of growth and economic achievement, as part of the American story, is critical. This information guides decisions on investments in education and business and ultimately helps us win the future.
When I meet young Latinos who ask what advice I have for them to succeed in Washington, I tell them two things: build strong networks and remember everyone who helped you along the way. When I started in this town, I didn’t know a soul but the connections I made early in my career continue to this day and I am grateful for the support they have lent me. Every time Hispanic Heritage Month rolls around I look forward to the events and festivities because it’s an opportunity to reconnect and see how far my community, the Latino community, has come. Plus, I like a good party.