Tuesday, July 23, 2024

NHLA Calls on Obama to Nominate Richardson for Secretary of State

This week’s Guest Blogger is John Trasviña, President and General Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) and Chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), a coalition of national Hispanic organizations. Earlier this week, NHLA sent a letter to President-elect Obama endorsing the nomination of Governor Bill Richardson as Secretary of State. The text of this letter follows Mr. Trasviña’s commentary.

As President-elect Obama takes his first post-election tour of the White House, Latinos who voted for him in record numbers expect there to be room for them, too, at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in an Obama Administration. Initial indications are positive. Former Denver Mayor and Energy and Transportation Secretary Federico Peña plays a key role on the Obama Transition Team and other Latinos fill key spots, including Frank Sanchez of Tampa as the point person for Latino appointments.

Surpassing many predictions, Latinos turned out to vote in record numbers and overwhelmingly favored the Obama-Biden ticket last week. Moreover, Latinos had a lot to do with shifting four states – Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Nevada– of the eight that went Democratic this year after voting Republican in 2004. Significantly, Latinos also have the talent and expertise in law, civil rights, education, the environment, economics, foreign relations, health and the myriad other issues that the Obama Administration will shape and will determine our nation’s course over the next 4-8 years and the century ahead.

The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, composed of 26 national Latino organizations and chaired by MALDEF, is promoting names to the Administration and helping Latino applicants for Cabinet, sub-Cabinet, and hundreds of other posts to advance through the appointment process. To begin, we have scheduled a teleconference call on Monday, November 17 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Standard time for all interested individuals. The call in number is 1-800-377-8846, password 79167948#. Please email opaniagua@maldef.org to RSVP for the call.


Dear President-elect Obama:

On behalf of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), we would like to congratulate you on your historic and decisive victory in last week’s presidential election. NHLA was established in 1991 as a nonpartisan association composed of 26 leading national and regional Hispanic civil rights and public policy organizations, elected officials, and distinguished Latino leaders from all over the nation. We look forward to working with you and your Administration on mutual issues of interest and concern in the years to come.

Last week, the members of NHLA endorsed the nomination of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson as Secretary of State. Governor Richardson has a long and distinguished history of public service at all levels of government. He has worked in the State Department, for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives for fourteen years where he was elected to the House leadership, and served in two Cabinet-level positions in the Clinton Administration, first as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and then as Secretary of Energy. Governor Richardson is now in his second term as one of the most successful chief executives in New Mexico’s history.

Throughout his career, Richardson has been a tireless and peerless advocate for many of the priorities outlined for your Administration – providing health care to all, creating jobs, improving schools, cleaning up the environment, stemming nuclear proliferation, fighting global warming, and providing tax relief to middle class families. His record of accomplishment on all these issues both in Congress and in New Mexico is notable.

Richardson is not only a leader in the Latino community and in this country but he has also become a well-respected international figure widely known for his strong commitment to international diplomacy, promoting democracy, and protecting civil and human rights. He has forged a well-earned reputation as a tough and deft diplomatic troubleshooter who has negotiated with leaders and heads of state in every corner of the globe.

At the request of Presidents Clinton and Bush, he has helped free American servicemen, aid workers, journalists, and other hostages being held captive in North Korea, Iraq, Sudan, and Cuba. He brokered an agreement for peace talks between the Taliban regime and opposing factions in Afghanistan and secured safe passage for 7000 Tajikistan refugees trapped in the northern part of the country. He negotiated a peaceful transfer of power in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2007, he brokered a cease-fire in the troubled region of Darfur in the Sudan. It is no wonder that Richardson has been nominated five times for the Nobel Peace Prize for his remarkable diplomatic achievements.

Governor Richardson will bring his extensive experience on virtually every continent, his profound knowledge of the diverse populations in the U.S. and abroad, his deep commitment to international diplomacy, justice, and peace, and his formidable work ethic to the critically important post of Secretary of State. We strongly urge his nomination.


John Trasviña


National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA)

National Hispanic Leadership Agenda Member Organizations:

Alianza Dominicana

American GI Forum

ASPIRA Association, Inc.

Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans

Cuban American National Council

Dominican American National Roundtable

Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities

Hispanic Federation

Hispanic National Bar Association

Interamerican College of Physicians & Surgeons

Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA)

League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)

MANA, A National Latina Organization

Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF)

National Association for Bilingual Education

National Association of Hispanic Federal Executives

National Association of Hispanic Publications

National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO)

National Conference of Puerto Rican Women, Inc.

National Council of La Raza

National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators

National Hispanic Corporate Council

National Hispanic Council on Aging

National Hispanic Environmental Council

National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts

National Hispanic Media Coalition

National Hispanic Medical Association

National Puerto Rican Coalition, Inc.

National Puerto Rican Forum

Puerto Rican Legal Defense & Education Fund

Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers

Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project

United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce

U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI)

trasvina1Appointed MALDEF President and General Counsel in November 2006, John Trasviña began his career at MALDEF in Washington, DC as a legislative attorney. He later worked for U.S. Senator Paul Simon on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and as Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices in the Clinton Administration. A native of San Francisco, Mr. Trasviña is a graduate of Harvard University and Stanford Law School.