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Event participants pose smiling in front of the stage

My father fell in love with this country, and with the beauty and opportunity America provided.

Ruben Barrales
Senior Vice-President of External Relations, Government Relations and Public Policy at Wells Fargo Co.

In the United States, September 15 through October 15 is designated as National Hispanic Heritage Month. During this time we celebrate the accomplishments of Hispanic Americans, who have enriched our culture and society and helped make America into the incredible country it is today. Through their dedication to family, community, and our country, they help to build a better future for all Americans. Learn more about this year’s theme in the Presidential Proclamation on National Hispanic Heritage Month, 2019.

On October 8th, the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity (ED) and the Community for the Advancement of Latinos at the Department of Energy (CALDOE) hosted the “History of Serving our Nation” celebration at the Department of Energy (DOE) headquarters in Washington, D.C., and broadcast live across the DOE complex. Mauricio Paredes of the Loan Programs Office and CALDOE, served as Master of Ceremonies. This year’s program featured entertaining and energizing musical performances by Seva Omar and the Mariachi Estrellas. Director of ED, the Honorable James E. Campos, provided opening remarks, and Chairman of the Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino Raul “Danny” Vargas enthralled the audience with his tales of Hispanics throughout U.S. history.

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Ruben Barrales shares his journey from working as a roofer to working at the White House.

In his keynote, Senior Vice-President of External Relations, Government Relations and Public Policy at Wells Fargo Co., Ruben Barrales described his parents’ experience as immigrants from Mexico. Upon his arrival in the United States, his father fell in love with the freedom and opportunities. His parents each worked multiple jobs to provide the best for the family. Mr. Barrales was the first in his family to go to college and worked as a roofer before entering politics. He has since built an incredibly successful career, including a tenure as Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Deputy Assistant to the President of the United States.

Principal Deputy Director of ED, Ann Augustyn, moderated the distinguished panel featuring the current and former directors of ED. The Honorable Theresa Alvillar-Speake, currently the CEO of Speake Consulting Services, described the importance of “reaching back” and her efforts to mentor the next generation of Hispanic professionals. She highlighted the story of an attendee, Amanda Quinones, who was recruited after displaying incredible poise and intelligence on a panel with Ms. Alvillar-Speake. Beginning as an intern, Ms. Quinones later joined the Department of Energy as a full-time employee and has built a successful career. A former Congressman and current co-chairman of the Mercury Firm, José “Joe” Garcia, stressed the importance of outreach and partnerships with minority-serving institutions to increase underrepresented students in STEM. He praised Director Campos for his actions in this area, in particular the Equity In EnergyTM initiative. Building on this, Director Campos spoke about the importance of creating interest in the energy sector among college students and how to fully participate in the numerous sectors of the energy economy.

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From Left: Current Director Campos, former directors Hon. Theresa Alvillar-Speake and José “Joe” Garcia.

Closing remarks were provided Deputy Director of the Office of Civil Rights and Diversity Patricia Zarate. The music of the Mariachi Estrellas played as attendees enjoyed food and drink to celebrate Hispanic cuisine.

Thank you to Director Campos, Hon. Alvillar-Speake and former Congressman Garcia for sharing your experience and wisdom, as well as to Principal Deputy Director Augustyn, CALDOE’s Paredes, and the esteemed guest speakers for sharing their perspectives. An additional thank-you to Collette Banks on detail to the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity and CALDOE for organizing the event.

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