Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Millennial Latinos Making White House History

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There is a group of young Latinos gathered for a group photo on a winding driveway seem like typical millennials. But these are no typical millennials. This group stood inside the gates of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. They were posed just a stone’s throw from the West Wing, beside the set-up of media outlets from around the world. They were standing, literally and figuratively, at the nexus of power and politics in the United States, and they have worked on issues affecting the lives of millions of Americans.

These are the Latino millennials of the Obama White House – where more young Hispanics have worked than in any previous administration and an important part of his legacy. Like other Hispanics, these young people are a true cross-section from diverse backgrounds. They hail from California, Texas, New Mexico, and Florida. Some are fluent in Spanish; some are not. Some are the children of immigrants, while the families of others have been here for generations.

As these men and women spoke with NBC Latino, none of them mentioned party affiliation or political battles. Instead they spoke of a passion for public service, the responsibility of representing their communities, and a strong belief in the transformative role of government. Those values stick with them even after they leave. A group of current and former Obama administration appointees have created LATINOS44, an alumni group, to provide professional development and keep the appointees connected after President Barack Obama’s exits the Oval Office.

“LATINOS44 will continue building on the leadership pipeline that the president has invested in over the last eight years so as to ensure this group has the capacity to continue advancing the issues of our community in a post-Obama world,” said Stephanie Valencia, one of the group’s co-chairs. Many would characterize these Latino millennials as achievers and role models; in fact, they are both witnesses to and participants in history.

White House staffers put in long hours, routinely missing family milestones and even holidays as they labor over endless policy papers and data sets. Most of the work is done out of the spotlight, simply because they believe in their candidate and his vision. It is a life that can be incredibly challenging and rewarding, yet at times lonely and exhausting as well. What is remarkable about these Latino millennials is that they have achieved their success largely on their own. Most are not from wealthy backgrounds, nor did they have family connections to propel them to their current positions.

NBC News