Marin, Rosario: 19(?)(?)—: U.S. Treasurer
Rosario Marin: 19(?)(?)—: U.S. Treasurer
On August 16, 2001, Rosario Marin was sworn in as the 41st Treasurer of the United States by U.S. Secretary Paul O'Neill. By accepting the oath of office, Marin became the first Mexican-born citizen to head up the Treasury. Her confirmation was also notable as she also became the highest-ranking Hispanic woman in the Bush Administration. Her success as a politician has been extraordinary given that she is a Republican that has ascended the ranks while courting a mostly Democratic constituency. However, Marin's skill and accomplishments easily transcend political party lines.
From Illiterate Immigrant to Honor Student
Rosario Marin was born in Mexico City where her father worked in a factory. She immigrated with her family to Southern California when she was 14. At the time she was reluctant to make the move because of her impending quinceanera, a Mexican girl's traditional coming of age party. She was also ashamed because she spoke little English. In fact her English was so poor that she failed the standardized tests given by the public school system and the teachers labeled her as mentally disabled. As a result, she has been a strong advocate for literacy programs in the Hispanic community. She proved her teachers wrong when she graduated from high school with honors.
According to her official bio on the Treasury Department's website, "Her father gave her a strong work ethic and from her mother she got her strong faith." She would rely heavily upon those traits as she struggled to hold down a full-time job while attending college. It took her four years to obtain her two-year degree from East Los Angeles College. She continued on with night classes at California State University, Los Angeles and three years later, in 1983, she earned a Bachelor's in Business Administration and Marketing. Meanwhile she was climbing up the ladder at her day job with City National Bank. Having started as a receptionist, by the time of her college graduation, she was on the verge of being promoted to a vice-president.
Marin's banking career came to a halt with the 1985 birth of her and husband Alex's first son, Eric. The child was diagnosed with Down's Syndrome. Marin quit work to care for Eric and later gave birth to two more children, Carmen and Alex. "I originally thought that having a child with Down syndrome was the worst thing that ever happened in my life," Marin told www.spotlighthealth.com. "But Eric changed my life immeasurably for the better. He humanized me in a profound way, just being the genuine, loving person that he is." She furthered acknowledge the role Eric played in shaping her political career, telling www.hispaniconline.com, "Today, I know that since the birth of my son, all the things that have happened after that were really preparing me for the role I'm playing today."
At a Glance . . .
Born in Mexico City, Mexico; married Alex Marin, early 1980s; children: Eric, Carmen, and Alex. Education: California State University, Los Angeles, BS, business administration and marketing, 1968; Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, programs for senior executives in state and local government. Politics: Republican.
Career: California State Council on Developmental Disabilities, chair; California State Department of Social Services, assistant deputy director; City National Bank, 1980s; State of California, Department of Developmental Services, chief of legislative affairs, 1992; Office of the Governor of California, Community Relations, deputy director, 1997; AT&T's Hispanic Market, Southern California, public relations manager, late 1990s; City of Huntington Park, CA, mayor and councilwoman, 1994-01; U.S. Treasurer, 2001–.
Awards: Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Award, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, United Nations, 1995; named one of "20 Up and Coming Latinas," Los Angeles Business Journal ; Excellence in Public Service Award, Latino Perspectives Conference, Sacramento, CA, 2000.
Addresses: Office— The Department of the Treasury, Office of the Treasurer, 1500 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington DC 20220.
Became Advocate for the Mentally Disabled
Marin became an advocate for the disabled and founded the first support group for Spanish-speaking families of children with Down's syndrome, Fuerza, Inc. In 1992 her activity drew the notice of then-California State Governor Pete Wilson and he appointed Marin chief of Legislative Affairs for the Department of Developmental Services. She was then made chair of the State Council on Developmental Disabilities and later assistant deputy director of the California State Department of Social Services. For her work on behalf of the mentally disabled the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation presented her with the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Award at the United Nations in 1995. She was only the second person to receive this prestigious international award. Marin also served on the Board of the Special Olympics.
In 1994 Marin ran for office in her hometown of Huntington Park, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. She was first elected to City Council and in turn the council elected her mayor. Huntington Park, with a population of 85,000 is overwhelmingly Hispanic and Democratic. Despite this political break with her constituency, Marin was easily reelected in 1999. During her tenure she revamped the Huntington Park police department, ousting the chief of police, building up support for community policing, and acquiring the city's first police helicopter. Her actions resulted in a fifty percent reduction in crime during her first term.
While still maintaining her mayoral and councilwoman duties, Marin took on the position of deputy director of Governor Wilson's community relations department in 1997. It was a role that taxed her political skills as she had to simultaneously explain the Governor's support of various anti-immigrant propositions, while reassuring her own constituents that she was firmly against these measures. Her next position was much less political. She became the public relations manager for AT&T's Hispanic Market in the Southern California Region, and Marin successfully executed this role while continuing to serve Huntington Park. She also found time to complete a program at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School for Senior Executives in State and Local Government.
Appointed U.S. Treasurer
Marin became visible on the state political scene by serving as the vice president of the California Republican National Hispanic Assembly. Then in 2000, she moved onto the national arena as a Spanish-speaking surrogate for the Bush-Cheney campaign. Her skill and background impressed the Bush administration sufficiently that upon Bush's ascension to the presidency, he appointed her his nominee for U.S. Treasurer. Of the appointment Marin was quoted in the Los Angeles Times, as saying, "I am truly humbled by the honor to be considered for such an important position. Should I be privileged to earn the United States Senate's trust and be confirmed, I look forward to serving our nation to the very best of my ability." The Senate confirmed her appointment on August 3, 2001 and less than two weeks later the Marin became the 41st U.S. Treasurer.
According to Accounting Times, "As Treasurer, the oldest office in the U.S. government, Marin oversees matters relating to coinage, currency and the production of other instruments issued by the United States. She reviews currency issues and redemptions, as well as signs U.S. currency. She also oversees the U.S. Mint and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and serves as the National Honorary Director of the Savings Bonds Program." However, Marin—a true activist—planned on doing much more for the public's finances than simply signing the dollars in their pockets. "As treasurer, Marin wants to promote financial literacy among Latinos and other 'unbanked' citizens—people who do not use the nation's banking system," reported www.hispaniconline.com. Marin explained her commitment to the website, "One thing is for the banks or credit companies to say, 'You need to open a checking account.' Another thing is for the treasurer of the United States to say, 'You know, I'm concerned about your financial future.'" Marin also supported Junior Achievement's national program designed to teach youth the importance of financial planning. "Too many students are just not ready for the world of checkbooks, savings accounts, credit, or investments," she told Business Wire. Marin concluded her interview with www.hispaniconline.com by stating, "I want to be the very best treasurer that I can be." Considering her past track record, her commitment to help her constituents, and her proven compassion, Marin will undoubtedly achieve that goal.
Accounting Today, September 3, 2001.
Business Wire, December 4, 2001.
Los Angeles Business Journal, February 28, 2000.
Los Angeles Times, April 18, 2001.
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