latinos nominated to the cabinet

A closer look at the Latinos nominated to Biden’s Cabinet

Many changes are underway as we settle into the new presidency. Among issues of immigration reform and COVID-19 relief, another key topic is that of President Biden’s cabinet nominations. Representation and diversity have been central to President Biden’s choices for top White House positions. During the 2020 election, he promised to nominate “the most diverse Cabinet in history,” stressing that he wanted leaders that look like America. Among the Cabinet nominations are many historic firsts including multiple Latinos nominated to the Cabinet. 

Julie Chávez Rodriguez has been appointed as Biden’s director of the Office of Intergovernmental Relations (Photo credit: White house photo office, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

“A Cabinet that looks like America”

The Cabinet’s role is to advise the President on any subject he or she may require relating to the duties of each member’s respective office and comprises some of the most senior positions in the executive branch. Historically until now, these positions have remained mostly male and white. However, if all of Biden’s nominees are confirmed, his Cabinet will contain more women and people of color than any other Cabinet in U.S. history.

“It’s a cabinet that looks like America, taps into the best of America, and opens doors and includes the full range of talents we have in this nation,” Biden said. 

Data shows that among the Cabinet appointees confirmed in the first 100 days of the last three presidential administrations, almost 72 percent were white, and 73 percent were male. Additionally, women have never made up more than 41 percent of a presidential Cabinet, and Black Americans have never accounted for even a third of the Cabinet.

Among Biden’s first 100-plus staffers, around 60 percent were women, more than 50 percent were people of color and 20 percent were first-generation Americans. 

Latinos Nominated to the Cabinet 

Latinos nominated to the Cabinet

Xavier Becerra, nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services. (Photo credit: Office of the attorney general of California, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Xavier Becerra, nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services

Biden has nominated California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to run the Department of Health and Human Services, a critical Cabinet position as the nation grapples with the coronavirus pandemic and navigates a nationwide COVID-19 vaccine rollout. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Becerra would be the first Latino to serve as HHS secretary. Prior to becoming California attorney general, Becerra served 12 terms in the U.S. House, rising to a top leadership post and helping to steer the Affordable Care Act through Congress.

Miguel Cardona, nominee for secretary of Education

Connecticut Public Schools commissioner and former elementary school teacher Miguel Cardona is President Joe Biden’s Cabinet nomination for secretary of the Department of Education. With his nomination, President Biden delivers on his promise to nominate a teacher for the top education job. Now Connecticut’s top education official, Cardona began as a teacher at his former elementary school. He became the state’s youngest principal in 2003, and eventually the district’s assistant superintendent. 

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Cardona would be tasked with helping the administration get students and teachers back in the classroom after the COVID-19 pandemic forced at-home instruction in districts across the country.

Latinos nominated to the Cabinet

Alejandro Mayorkas, nominee for secretary of Homeland Security (Photo credit: official Department of Homeland Security (government) portrait, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Alejandro Mayorkas, nominee for secretary of Homeland Security

Alejandro Mayorkas previously served as deputy secretary of Homeland Security and as U.S. Customs and Immigration Service director during the Obama administration. In 1998, Mayorkas became the youngest U.S. attorney in the country. He served as the U.S. attorney for the Central District of California until April 2001. He’s currently an attorney at the global law firm WilmerHale. If confirmed, he will be the first Latino and immigrant to hold the job. 

Isabel Guzman, nominee for administrator of the Small Business Administration 

Latinos nominated to the Cabinet

Isabel Guzman, nominee for administrator of the Small Business Administration (Photo credit: State of California, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Latina business leader, Isabel Guzman is the first Latina named to a cabinet-level position. Biden nominated her to head the Small Business Administration as Latino businesses struggle to survive with fewer resources and less funding.

Guzman is currently the director of the Office of Small Business Advocate in the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. Prior to her work in California, she worked in the SBA during the Obama administration as deputy chief of staff and senior adviser. Guzman has also started small businesses as an entrepreneur. 

“And as head of the SBA, Isabel will be leading that critical mission to not only rescue small businesses in crisis, but to provide the capital to entrepreneurs across the country so they can innovate, create jobs, and help lead us into recovery,” Biden said when introducing Guzman as his choice.

Latinos nominated in other areas of government

In addition to the Latinos nominated to the Cabinet, President Biden has also continued his mission for diversity in his selections for other positions. Other Latinos who have been appointed to high-level positions include: Julie Chávez Rodriguez who has been appointed as Biden’s director of the Office of Intergovernmental Relations, and Adrian Saenz has been appointed deputy director of the Office of Public Engagement. 

“It’s not going to be easy. I don’t go into any of this with rose-colored glasses,” said Chávez Rodríguez, the granddaughter of the civil rights leader César Chavez.

Chávez Rodríguez will work with governors and local officials who are worried about security, pandemic surges, the challenges of mass vaccinations and states’ economic hardships. Despite the “overwhelming” challenges ahead, she said there’s “a real hunger” among governors of both parties and mayors to help solve problems.

“While, yes, we have multiple crises we are facing, I think there’s a real moment for a collaborative government that I am really excited and energized by.”

Confirmations for Biden’s cabinet nominations are expected to continue over the coming weeks. As of now two of Biden’s 23 nominees have been confirmed.

healthier choices latino family-owned business

Pros and cons of building a Latino family business

A Latino family business is an opportunity to build wealth for your family but also it can bring a lot of headaches. Here are some recommendations and tips on how successful Latino family-owned businesses have made it through the decades.

latino family-owned business

A wide variety of snacks, mostly candy, on display at a bodega in Park Slope, Brooklyn. It should be noted that the variety displayed is a bit larger than the norm offered by your local bodega: the shop is two blocks from a school. By Jeffrey O. Gustafson at the English language Wikipedia.

Since the late 1880s to the 21st century, Latino immigrants have shown their entrepreneurial spirit, a trend that continues today. They started Cuban cigar stores in Tampa, Mexican almacenes (food stores) in Chicago and Puerto Rican bodegas in New York and New Jersey.

They also opened dance halls, theaters, and movie houses in Los Angeles and print shops and Spanish newspapers in San Antonio. Latino businesses have been at the forefront of the American economy. Today, they still are.

Many –if not most– of these businesses started as a Latino family-owned business to provide for the everyday needs of the family group. Some continued for generations, expanding into larger corporations –such as Goya Foods Inc. or La Preferida– while others faded and disappeared.

What are the secrets to building a successful and thriving family business?

Pros and cons of a family owned business

Latino family business

A study from MassMutual that conveys the best way to build and succeed with a family business.

Family owned businesses face the challenges and enjoy the rewards of working together as a family. Some are started by husband and wife, and carried on by the next generation. Others are multiple-generational businesses that also involve relatives and extended-family.

According to FamilyPreneurship–a MassMutual study that interviewed over 500 family business owners around the country– successful companies keep certain components in line. They practice open communication, trust other family members’ decisions, keep a balance between work and family life, and do overall planning for running the business and for the unexpected.

But some of these good practices might be tinted with cultural aspects of the Latino family interaction, such as familismo, gender roles, and the perception of work value, success and leadership.

  • Aquí mando yo (Here, I’m the boss)

In order to make decisions, most successful family businesses discuss issues at least among two or more members and stakeholders. However, as Latino families might be a hierarchical, male oriented structure, so might be their businesses, leaving decisions to the dominant male, a practice that might not always be the right one for the company.

While familismo is an important cultural value that derives from a collective worldview in which the group is more important than the individual, the family might impose sacrifices on themselves or their younger members for the good of the business.

Children might not have a personal or professional interest in their parents’ business but are demanded to be part of it against their will for the sake of the family. In the long run, this imposition might create frictions and tension both at work and at home.

Loving the business you’re in and having understanding of children’s needs are two ways of showing them that although you would like them to share your passion, it is them that have to make that decision for themselves.

latino family business

Radhames Rodriguez came to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 1985. He and his two brothers now own 12 bodegas. “I love a bodega because, first of all, I make money,” said Radhames. “And second of all, I like to be with people.”
His 19-year old daughter, Diana, is taking Bio and Pre-Med, and hopes to go to medical school. But, she says, business runs in her blood, and she would like a bodega of her own.
“When you walk into a bodega, you feel like you’re at home,” Diana said. She would know: since she was a child, she lived above a bodega, and started working at one at the age of six. CREDIT: David Katzenstein published on

  • We all know each other very well

As some Hispanic families are male dominant in the decision-making process, they might put their spouses and daughters in charge of the menial or less important jobs or just keep them as nominal board members with no real decision power. Clearly defined roles and responsibilities should be based on capacities and abilities, not on gender or age differences.

Whomever is better qualified for a certain position should be trusted to make the important decisions a family run business requires –usually with very little margin for failure. Also, micromanaging or over-controlling the work of others might take away the precious gift of trust, a valuable component of this type of enterprise.

  • Work hard, play hard


    Original store of La Preferida in Chicago

Most family business owners find very challenging to balance their work and personal lives. Bickering at work about family “stuff” and about work during family dinners is not a great way to balance work/family life.

Most family owned businesses find that leaving emotions out of the equation is a great solution for solving conflicts and making decisions. However, emotions can run high in Latino families. Finding the time and the strategy to deal with personalities and temperamental behavior might be a healthy way to resolve business AND family issues. Although roles might be interchangeable among members of the family, someone has to keep a “cold head” around these times.

Giving the family a good time to relax, and bonding in other aspects of their relationship –such as sharing sports, dancing or recreational activities– are also important and beneficial behaviors for all members, including “the boss.”

You might be interested:  Refreshing Peruvian beverage Inka Cola growing popularity in the USA

  • Divorce and disease not included

As hard as it is to start and manage a business, unforeseen life events affect many family run businesses the most. A spouse needs to leave for a family emergency for a few months, someone gets gravely ill, or spouses face death, divorce, domestic violence, addiction or any other illness that causes a big impact on the life of their business. Who will take over? Would it survive?

Although divorce rates are lower among Latinos than non- Latino whites or African-Americans, conflict might still be present in the family and affecting business. A careful planning of a business exit strategy –selling, transferring, acquisition or liquidation– and buying appropriate insurance options might protect the rest of the family members against those unfortunate events.

Latino family businesses are increasing their revenue contribution to the economy at a staggering rate, representing up to 20 percent of the businesses in states such as New Mexico, Florida, California, Texas, New York and New Jersey. However, many are doomed to fail–depending on the study, as many as 50 percent might close doors in the first year in business. Following simple guidelines to interact with your partners in business and life might be a good way to avoid conflict and cruise smoothly into a successful business.