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 an America Built to Last.
I have dedicated the majority of my professional career to guiding faith-based and non-profit organizations toward positive social and economic change. I attended Howard University (GO BISON!!), graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Finance, and earned a Master of Divinity Degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. Additionally, I received a Master of Public Administration from the School of International & Public Affairs at Columbia University.
In June 2009, I was appointed by the White House as the Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Commerce. As a member of Secretary John Bryson’s senior advisory team, I seek to forge and enhance partnerships with secular and faith-based organizations, particularly in policy areas of census, economic development and minority business development.
At Commerce, we are working hard to create an America built to last. One of the ways my office approaches this goal is to strengthen and increase capacity of the non-profit organizations by encouraging cross-sector partnerships to stimulate local economies, create jobs and attract private investments in communities with high unemployment and low per capita income. In 2010, non-profits alone accounted for $779 billion of our country’s gross domestic product (5.4 percent). As we work to improve our economy, it’s important to know that non-profits employ and create jobs locally; in 2009, nine percent of the economy’s wages, and over 10 percent of jobs in 2009.
Prior to joining the Department of Commerce, I began work in government in the Legislative office of Congressman Charles B. Rangel as a senior adviser and then on the House Ways and Means Committee as a leadership liaison. My time on the Hill was incredible and I encourage folks who are thinking about public service to consider spending some time working for their hometown Member of Congress or Senator. It was extremely rewarding!
A guiding principal that has informed my career trajectory comes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his "Letter From Birmingham Jail" (April 16, 1963). He wrote, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” It is my hope that my work serves as the thread that closes disparities and knits opportunity, prosperity and hope with every individual that yearns to be free and reach their potential.
As I celebrate Black History Month, I reflect deeply on the need for all of us to embrace our shared destiny and a truth that none of us can rest until all of our experiences are full of hope and promise.