Friday, May 24, 2024

Guest Blogger: Department of Commerce’s Katina Rojas Joy, Deputy Director, Office of Business Liaison

Katina LopezAs Deputy Director in the Office of Business Liaison, my primary goal is to execute the Secretary’s international trade missions. Our office executed an infrastructure trade mission to New Dehli, India, last year, and we are currently planning a transportation and infrastructure trade mission to Colombia, Brazil, and Panama. The President wants to double US exports by 2014, and I am proud to play in role in meeting the President’s established export goal. During trade mission promotion and planning, much of my time is spent interfacing with US companies, small and medium sized businesses, US embassies, and trade associations.  I have also served on several White House interagency and Commerce policy initiatives:  Summer Jobs +, Doing Business in Africa, the Affordable Care Act, Hurricane Sandy response and recovery and the expansion of Commerce’s patent and trademark field offices. These new field offices will speed up the patent process and help American businesses innovate, grow, and create jobs.

I grew up in the Bronx and Puerto Rico. My grandmother migrated to New York City in the 1950’s and found work in the garment industry, which at the time, along with manufacturing, was a booming industry in NYC. My mom, was born in Puerto Rico and raised my brother and I on her own and worked in clerical jobs at Local 1199 SEIU and Bronx Lebanon Hospital until she retired last October.

I was the first in my family to graduate from college and though I was accepted into Ohio State University when my mother realized the high cost of tuition and that I would have to move to Columbus, Ohio, she said no. As such, I attended Lehman College (CUNY) where I earned a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree from Baruch College (CUNY) as a recipient of the National Urban Rural Fellows program. My rural assignment was at Producir, Inc., a small organization founded by Dr. Antonia Pantoja. Dr. Pantoja was a feminist, founder of Aspira of NY, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  She would often say:  “I don’t care if you spoke to God today, I don’t care about process, I want product”.

I have been in the workforce since the age of 16 and have had the best female mentors along the way.  In 1993 I attended the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, where Hillary Clinton served a prominent role and I learned the value of strong bonds amongst women. It was the women who were a couple of generations older than I who taught me the value of understanding the role of organizational behavior, diversity in the workplace and competitive pay.  My advice to young women who want to pursue a career in government is to stand up for yourself, negotiate your salary, build non-transactional relationships, do not attach emotions to outcomes, don’t worry about being liked and get to the gym at least three times a week because muscular strength is just as important as mental in Washington. Two books that really inspired me and everyone should read are Practical Genius by Gina Rudan and My Beloved World by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Source: United States Department of Commerce