Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Leading Team Obama

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Leading Team Obama

Article excerpt

Katherine Archuleta is first Latina to direct a major party's presidential campaign.

When President Barack Obama's re-election campaign appointed Katherine Archuleta national political director in June 2011, pundits across the country took this as a sign that the president was serious about nabbing the Latino vote once more in 2012, more specifically putting several swing states out West in his column. However, Latino leaders, including Archuleta, who is Mexican-American, took this as a sign of much more.

Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), says assigning Archuleta national political director was a huge milestone for Latinos.

"What was most significant of the appointment is that here we have a Latina who is not responsible for outreach to Latinos only, but it's a position that has overall responsibility for the campaign." he says, adding, "This is a mainstream position, which is something that we've been wanting to see for some time now. And I think it's recognition of the kind of talent and experience that we have within the Latino community and certainly within Katherine Archuleta herself!"

As the first Latina to hold such a lofty position on a major presidential campaign, Archuleta says she is thrilled and humbled.

"I am proud that the president and his campaign team recognized the importance of having a member of our community in a leadership position. I am also very humbled by the fact that I am the one who has been entrusted with the responsibility of serving the entire campaign," says Archuleta who has spent nearly 20 years in public service. Prior to serving the president, Archuleta was chief of staff to Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. She also was a chief of staff to former Secretary of Transportation Federico Peña and a senior policy adviser to him when he was named energy secretary. Her experience also includes community organizing: Archuleta founded the Colorado Women's Foundation, the Mi Casa Resource Center and the Latina Initiative, the now-defunct Colorado organization, to empower women at the grass roots level.

Named one of the most influential women in Colorado history by The Denver Post, Archuleta has an intimate knowledge of the West, women voters and Latino issues.

Dottie Lamm, former first lady of Colorado and 1998 Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, served with Archuleta on the committee of the Women's Foundation and says of her in that Post piece: "Katherine is politically sensitive, but psychologically tough and outspoken. …

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