In the historical past of the United States, no presidential Cabinets have ever matched the gender or racial stability of the nation. But America might quickly see its most various Cabinet ever—with the primary Native American secretary of the inside; first Latino homeland safety chief; first brazenly homosexual Cabinet member and extra. In two departments—Treasury and Intelligence—there has by no means been a girl in cost … till now. Altogether, Biden has introduced 12 girls in his Cabinet, essentially the most ever.
To have fun the historic variety of girls and girls of shade in Biden’s Cabinet, media thought chief Pat Mitchell is kicking off a brand new sequence: “Table for 12,” which will appear on PatMitchellMedia.com—and be republished here at Ms.—each Monday!
This Week: Gina Raimondo
Gina Raimondo was sworn in March 3 because the nation’s new commerce secretary by Vice President Kamala Harris after a bipartisan vote of 84-15 within the Senate.
Raimondo, 49, was first elected to workplace in 2010 as the final treasurer of Rhode Island. In 2014, she was elected the primary lady governor of Rhode Island. She gained a second time period in 2018. She additionally served as chair of the Democratic Governors’ Association in 2019. In introducing her as his pick for secretary of commerce, President Biden called her “one of the most effective and forward-thinking governors” in America.
In her new position, Raimondo shall be in command of the sprawling division, which works to stimulate financial progress and alternative for American employees. She’ll oversee the division’s $8 billion price range and 43,000 staff engaged on commerce coverage, patents and the U.S. census, in addition to climate monitoring, American fisheries, telecommunications requirements and financial knowledge gathering, amongst different actions.
“We have become the party that is anti-business,” she told Frank Bruni earlier this 12 months. “We need to be the party of work.”
Raimondo said she shall be “focused on a simple but vital mission—to spur good-paying jobs, empower entrepreneurs to innovate and grow, and help American workers and businesses compete.” The New York Times notes the division is “likely to play a crucial role in several of Mr. Biden’s policy efforts, including spurring the American economy, building out rural broadband and other infrastructure, and leading America’s technology competition with China.”
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The Opportunity That ‘Shaped Her Life’
Raimondo grew up in Smithfield, R.I., the youngest daughter of Joseph and Josephine Raimondo, in a working class Italian American household. After preventing in World War II, her father worked on the Bulova Watch Factory for 26 years till it closed within the Nineteen Eighties, leaving him with out a job at 56.
Gina says her mom held the household collectively throughout what was “a very difficult time.” When she utilized to Harvard, she nervous whether or not her household might afford tuition.
“My mom told me that if I wanted to go [to Harvard], they would do whatever it takes to make it work,” Raimondo told the Harvard Crimson, reflecting on her time there. “Getting in—and realizing I could go—was a pivotal moment for me, and it was an opportunity that has shaped my life in so many ways since.”
While at Harvard, the 5’3″ Raimondo tried out for the Harvard-Radcliffe Rugby Team. “I …was one of the littlest and so became scrum-half,” she instructed the Providence Journal. “I really enjoyed the camaraderie.” (For these not within the know, the scrum half is “usually the smallest and scrappiest player on the team.”) She additionally performed at Oxford University, which she attended on a Rhodes Scholarship.
Politics Is Personal
Several years later, Raimondo learn a narrative within the native paper about additional price range cuts to public libraries in her state. Her grandfather, an Italian immigrant who got here to America on his personal on the age of 14, had taught himself English late at night time on the Providence Public Library. He later lived with Raimondo’s household after he retired.
The smallest state within the union had a very big debt downside. A pension disaster was chipping away at public companies like public libraries and public buses—companies that she and her grandfather had relied on of their youth. She instructed her household she was going to do one thing about it and run for workplace.
“Oh, honey,” said her mom, Josephine, “don’t do that. It’s a dirty business.”
But Raimondo ran and she or he gained. As Rhode Island’s treasurer, she tackled the state’s $7 billion unfunded pension legal responsibility making robust selections about how to preserve cities from going bankrupt. She led an “unprecedented reform, raising the retirement age (to 67), freezing cost-of-living increases, and adding a 401(k)-like plan to the traditional (shrunken) defined-benefits plan.”
“[Raimondo has] created a culture of urgency around fixing state agencies,” Jeffrey B. Liebman, professor of economics and director of the Government Performance Lab at Harvard University, told the Harvard Crimson. “When someone tells her it will take eight months to fix something, she asks why it can’t be done in three.”
In 2014, she ran for governor, and gained once more. She has mentioned that certainly one of her proudest moments as governor was signing into legislation the 2017 Rhode Island Promise Scholarship, which offers tuition-free neighborhood school to all highschool graduates within the state.
“It’s a game-changer,” Raimondo wrote. “In the first year alone, we saw a 43 percent increase in the number of full-time, recent high school graduates and a 500 percent increase in students of color who are on track to graduate in two years.”
When she entered workplace, the state had a few of the worst unemployment numbers within the nation. When she resigned earlier this month, she took credit for having “jump-started our economy, lifted up small businesses, made record investments in education, led the fight against climate change, made long-overdue repairs to crumbling roads, bridges, and schools, and provided skills and a pathway to a good job for thousands of Rhode Islanders.”
After being sworn in as Secretary of Commerce, she wrote, “I am committed to helping Americans and businesses, small and large, to combat this pandemic head-on, creating millions of good paying jobs and powering a more just, sustainable economy.”
A heartfelt welcome to the desk, Secretary Raimondo.
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