During Black History Month, the White House will feature African Americans from agencies throughout the Administration that contribute to the President’s vision of winning the future. Copied below is a recap of profiles that were posted on the Black History Month blog, “Celebrating Black History by Winning the Future”
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Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy
My name is Christopher Smith, and I am the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Natural Gas in the Office of Fossil Energy of the U.S. Department of Energy. Specifically, I am focused on leading research which will quantify the risks and opportunities associated with exploration and production activities, onshore and offshore. As the President has emphasized, the nation that leads the clean-energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. Our country needs to prudently develop our domestic natural gas resources, but we have to do it safely and with respect for the environment. Developing these resources leads to innovative new jobs in communities across the United States. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Management from the United States Military Academy at West Point and MBA from Cambridge University.
Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency
My name is Lisa Jackson, and as the Administrator of the EPA, I oversee a staff of more than 18,000 employees working across the country with a single mission: to protect human health and the environment. I touch on everything from making sure the air we breathe and the water we drink is free from harmful toxins to assisting with response to environmental disasters. My work at the EPA encompasses the vital objectives of the President’s State of the Union address, and I want to show individuals and communities – though they may not think of themselves as environmentalists – that environmental issues play a role in their health and welfare. Clean air and clean water is important to everyone. And EPA has worked to shed light on the disproportionate environmental burden that too many poor and minority communities face today. I graduated from Tulane University and received my Masters degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University.
Member, President’s Council of Economic Advisers
My name is Cecilia Rouse, and as a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), I work on a wide range of issues, including employment, education, housing, the budget, and the economics of workplace flexibility. I also represent the CEA at a variety of inter-agency meetings and frequently attend meetings with the President and the Vice President. My work helps further the State of the Union goal of winning the future, supporting the President’s strategy aimed squarely at fostering robust and balanced economic growth. Through helping to design effective policy that generates economic growth, I, along with the other economists at the CEA, have been integral to identifying and shaping key policy levers to help achieve these goals.
My name is Charles Bolden, and I am the Administrator of NASA. My parents have been the biggest influences on my life and my commitment to public service. Such a commitment led me to the military and chance to serve my country following my graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy. This had been an uphill battle because due to my race, no one in my South Carolina congressional delegation would provide an appointment or nomination to the Academy that was required for admission. Since then, I have graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, flown more than 100 combat missions over Vietnam, earned a master’s degree in systems management, have flown on the Space Shuttle four times, and have risen to the rank of Major General in the U.S. Marine Corps.
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Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services, U.S. Department of Commerce
My name is Nicole Lamb-Hale, and as the Assistant Secretary, I have the opportunity to help the international competitiveness of U.S. industries through the development and execution of trade policy and promotion strategies that help to increase the exports of U.S. industries. My parents are a large influence and the confidence they helped to instill in me allowed me to succeed at the University of Michigan and then at Harvard law School, where I had the opportunity to first get to know a fellow law student by the name of Barack Obama. I interact on almost a daily basis with businesses large and small that seek opportunities in international trade. Promoting the exports of U.S. industries will help America “win the future” as it showcases America’s global leadership in innovation and technology and help to create the jobs our country needs.
_Dr. William Spriggs
Assistant Secretary for Policy, U.S. Department of Labor
My name is Dr. William Spriggs, and as Assistant Secretary for Policy, I have the opportunity to help develop policies, evaluate programs, and shape regulations that strengthen our workforce. My parents have served as my greatest influence, and they have instilled in me the values of hard work, honesty, modesty, and faith. I attended Williams College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison where I earned my Masters and PhD in economics. For six years, I headed the National Urban League’s Institute for Opportunity and Equality, which was the Washington office for the National Urban League. In my current position at the Department of Labor, I am proud to be part of a team that is helping to promote worker safety, emphasize fairness in hiring practices, expand opportunities for all Americans, and encourage a diverse workforce. As we work to win the future, it is important to me that we build pathways to support that diversity and ensure that we are helping all of our communities.
Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Growing up in Spokane, Washington, my parents were engaged in the community, and in the weight of things, I am James and Lydia Sims’ son through and through. My values, my expressions, and what I care for are all reflective of that, and this is why I feel so strongly about giving future generations of young people the good homes and quality opportunities they need. As Deputy Secretary, I’m in a position to help do that, and through the Federal Housing Administration, for example, we help responsible first-time homebuyers get access to a mortgage. Under the leadership President Obama and Secretary Donovan, our mission has expanded still further. We’re no longer just a housing agency – we’re engaged in comprehensive community development to help rebuild so many areas harmed by the economic crisis. Achieving that dream, and giving people from all races, backgrounds, and walks of life access to choice and opportunity, is not only what Black History Month is about – it’s what America is about. To me, the celebration of Black History Month is a celebration of America as a grand experiment – how this country became the greatest in the world despite Americans sharing no common race or country of origin.
Assistant Secretary for Governmental Affairs, Department of Transportation
Although I was born a decade after the Civil Rights Movement and the movement’s triumphs -the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965- growing up in Birmingham, Alabama exposed me to the racial issues including my racial segregated elementary and high schools. I never imagined the day I would have the chance to vote for an African-American president, let alone work for one. At the Department of Transportation under Secretary LaHood’s leadership, we are building bridged between people who need jobs and jobs that need doing. During our two years in office, our primary focus has been to work on the President’s six-year plan to create jobs today by investing in the infrastructure of tomorrow and continue advancing the goals outlined in the State of the Union Address.
Regional Administrator for the Northeast and Caribbean Region, General Services Administration
Growing up, my father, the first African-American Assistant Dean at Suffolk Community College took me to meetings of the Association for the Study of African-American life and History. At the meetings, the group of civil leaders engaged in lively conversations about building the necessary tools to build for the future by learning from the challenges and successes of the past. As a Regional Administrator at the U.S. General Services Administration, I aim to contribute to President Obama’s vision to Win the Future by building a more innovative, sustainable, and energy efficient government. We manage 541 federal building in our region and are currently hard to work on projects expanding border stations, constructing federal courthouses, and returning federal tenants to the World Trade Center site.
Each profile is featured on the “Celebrating Black History by Winning the Future webpage on whitehouse.gov.