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Spotlight on Commerce: Tené Dolphin, Chief of Staff, Economic Development Administration

Tené Dolphin

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Tené Dolphin, Chief of Staff, Economic Development Administration

February is always a special time for our nation to remember the contributions of African Americans, but I never limit my celebration of Black History to just one month. As a child growing up in the historically rich city of Philadelphia, I learned about the men and women who made remarkable contributions to not only our community, but to our country and to the world. Certainly the significance of the election of the first African American President of the United States is particularly noteworthy during this time of reflection and introspection. I am filled with pride and deep emotion when I recall the struggles and triumphs of the past, and observe the advances we continue to make together as Americans.

Over the last four years, I have served in two leadership positions within the U.S. Department of Commerce. Today, as Chief of Staff at the Economic Development Administration, I am encouraged by how Commerce’s priorities align with the administration’s goals and by how we are uniquely positioned to play a significant role in implementing the president’s economic agenda to put more Americans back to work and invest in the industries of the future that will increase our nation’s competitiveness. In my role, I work to lead program operations, staff development, and other general management efforts. I routinely serve as management liaison for agency labor management council, departmental labor management council, other Commerce bureaus, federal agencies, and the White House. 

Before joining the Obama administration, I served as Chief of Staff for Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty. I haven’t been involved in the political scene a long time as I just began my political career during the 2004 presidential campaign cycle at the Democratic National Committee. In between political experience involvement I spent time honing my skills in various private sector positions where I focused on operations. With all of my varied experiences, one of my most rewarding opportunities was serving as an educator for several years in Maryland's Prince George’s County. There I initiated a program to celebrate the contribution of African Americans. My third grade class did an amazing job during a school wide assembly sharing their new-found knowledge with their peers and parents. 

Before starting my professional career, I attended Howard University, a Historically Black University (HBCU) in Washington, D.C., where I majored in psychology and minored in African American Studies. I also was a charter member of the Howard collegiate chapter of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW). 

I am happy to have a chance to continue celebrating Black History month in my workplace. I am particularly proud this year because Commerce’s event recognizes my sorority’s centennial. The keynote speaker is Gwendolyn Boyd, who was appointed by President Obama to serve as a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, and is the past National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the nation’s largest African American public service sorority. As an active member for 21 years, I continue to be inspired by my sorority’s commitment to service and academic excellence. 

My dedication to service goes beyond my work in the sorority as I serve on the board of Friends of the National Arboretum and the Board of Stewards at Reid Temple AME Church in Maryland. I also am honored to be a mentor a number of remarkable young students both past and present. Among some of my most memorable service projects are building houses with Habitat for Humanity, running in Race for the Cure, working with children in Johannesburg and providing meals to many of our city's residents. 

I am proud that my profession affords me the opportunity to continue to serve others. The work we do at Commerce and the expectation that President Obama has for those in his administration, is singularly focused on making this country better for everyone.

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