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National Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration

Secretary Ray LaHood
Remarks Prepared for Delivery
National Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration
Washington, DC
Thursday September 20, 2012
  • Thank you, Susan for your kind introduction. And more importantly, thank you for your great work as president of Hispanics in Transportation.
  • Your efforts—and the work of the entire HIT organization—are making a big difference, and I appreciate everything you do.
  • I am thrilled to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month and to acknowledge the many contributions Latinos make here at the Department of Transportation and throughout our government.  
  • We are joined by a number of special guests, including my good friends, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Administrator of the Federal Highways Administration Victor Mendez.
  • We are also lucky to have Mauro (Mau-ro) Morales, of the Office of Personnel Management, who will discuss steps this Administration is taking to promote diversity and inclusion in the Federal workplace.
  • And we welcome NBC 4’s Erika Gonzalez, who will tell us how she has succeeded at a career in journalism in both Texas and Washington, DC.
  • I thank all of our guests for sharing their powerful stories of achievement with us today.
  • Our nation has always benefited from many cultures uniting as one. And this Administration understands that our nation’s diversity is its greatest strength.
  • President Obama has pulled together the most diverse team in U.S. history, and I am proud to be a part of it.  
  • Hispanics serve in unprecedented numbers in the Obama Administration.
  • President Obama appointed Secretary Hilda Solis and Secretary Ken Salazar to his cabinet.
  • He nominated Sonia Sotomayor as the first Hispanic Justice on the Supreme Court. 
  • And he has appointed Hispanics to positions in every Federal agency.
  • DOT benefits from a talented pool of Hispanic political appointees:
  • Victor Mendez, who’s here with us today,
  • Michael Huerta, Acting Administrator for FAA,
  • Amy Tovar, Associate General Counsel,
  • Maria Elena Juarez, my trusted scheduler,
  • Federico de Jesús, Associate Director for Governmental Affairs,
  • Francisco Reinoso (Ray-no-so), Deputy CIO for New Media Strategy and IT projects, and
  • Sylvia Garcia, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Management and Budget. Sylvia also served as my representative when the HIT Charter was signed last year.
  • As you will learn later today, Hispanics make contributions across all modes of transportation. And we are thankful for their service.
  • However, we can do more.
  • At DOT, we are fortunate to have an organization dedicated to the professional development and recruitment of Hispanics in transportation.
  • Last year, we established the Hispanics in Transportation professional employee organization to further our commitment to diversity and the empowerment of all our employees.
  • HIT has worked to promote diversity and cultural awareness, provide career and development advice, promote the exchange of ideas and generally support our members as they look for growth opportunities within DOT. 
  • Most importantly, HIT has worked to recruit qualified Hispanics to transportation careers.
  • HIT held a number of events last year, including a “DOT Mentor Café” for career development and a conversational Spanish networking event that allowed DOT employees to practice their language skills.
  • And this year, we are excited to see HIT partner with the Youth Mentoring Program to inspire children to pursue a career in transportation.
  • HIT is also working with the Departmental Office of Civil Rights and the Office of Human Capital Management to further DOT’s diversity goals.
  • As most of you know, Hispanics are an increasingly powerful force in our country.
  • Last year, there were more than 52 million Hispanics in the United States. And by 2050, Latinos are expected to make up a third of the American population.
  • If we are going to keep up with these trends, DOT must ensure that our message of safety reaches Latinos and Spanish speakers in every community.
  • We are making progress on this front, especially through our NHTSA safety campaigns.
  • Whether it’s encouraging people to buckle up, getting drunk drivers off the road, or helping parents find the right child safety seat, we’re spreading our message to Hispanic communities in Spanish and English.
  • In fact, NHTSA has become a trusted and sought out source for Latinos when it comes to traffic safety.
  • We are so lucky to live in a country that embraces our differences. In America, it doesn’t matter where your parents were born or what language you grew up speaking, we are all here to achieve the same American dream.
  • We have always been a nation full of vision, a bold and optimistic America that does big things.
  • At DOT, we are investing in an America built to last. And we are drawing on the wide talents and abilities of people from every background to get the job done.
  • I thank the Members of HIT for working hard to expand the number of Latinos in our transportation workforce. And I thank each of you for attending today’s celebration.
  • Going forward, I know that we will have many more achievements to celebrate.
  • And now, I am thrilled to introduce Secretary Hilda Solis.
Updated: Friday, January 9, 2015
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