President Barack Obama plans to nominate what would be the first Hispanic, if confirmed, to serve as director of the Office of Personnel Management, the White House announced Thursday.
Katherine Archuleta is no rookie in the world of politics, or to the Beltway.
Archuleta was the national political director for Obama for America, the official name for the president’s election campaign, from 2011 to 2012.
Previous jobs included chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Labor, senior policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Energy, and chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“Katherine brings to the Office of Personnel Management broad experience and a deep commitment to recruiting and retaining a world-class workforce for the American people,” Obama said in a statement. “I am grateful Katherine has agreed to serve, and I look forward to working with her in the coming years.”
In an interview last year with Politic365.com, a political news site, Archuleta said her foray into politics was rooted in a desire to improve conditions and life for women and Latinos.
“You do it because you have a deep passion for public good, for civic engagement,” she said, according to the site.
“For me, I was passionate about women’s issues and Latina issues in particular. I never imagined that I would be in this position, but I always knew that I would speak out on behalf of Latinas.”
In the interview, she noted that her decision to accept Obama's offer to head his campaign was not one she made in haste.
She discussed it with her husband and daughter, who is in her 20s and is a cancer survivor.
“My daughter was right — serving as the National Political Director was the most important job I’ve ever had. Graciela is a cancer survivor, she was facing lifetime limits and pre-existing conditions, so on the personal side making sure we had a candidate who was going to ensure she had care [was important], but [Obama] reflects values that we care about as a family and who we are as Democrats,” she said. “It was not a difficult decision to make, but it the best personal and professional decision I’ve ever made.”
Archuleta received a bachelor’s degree from Metropolitan State College and a master’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado.
She served as an adjunct professor at the University of Denver from 1992 to 1993, and before that held various positions in the Office of the Mayor of Denver from 1983 to 1991, including deputy chief of staff.
Archuleta would be occupying a senior position in the White House. The position is not part of the Cabinet.
Many Latino organizations have been closely watching Obama appointments amid complaints from many Hispanic groups that, other than Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Director Thomas Perez for the position of Labor Secretary, Obama had not nominated any Latinos for his Cabinet in his second term.
A Senate panel approved Perez's nomination last week to head the Labor Department. The meeting to hold the vote was postponed twice at the request of Republicans, who have voiced strong opposition to Perez's nomination.
Elizabeth Llorente can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on https://twitter.com/Liz_Llorente