Latinas Leading Tomorrow (LLT), in collaboration with Marymount University will host a ceremony on Thursday, April 27, 2023 to recognize the inaugural recipients of the 2023 Together We Will Reach the Stars Awards. Melody Gonzalez, Executive Director White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics will be the keynote speaker for the event.
Melody is Executive Director of the White House Hispanic Initiative, an office created by President Joe Biden’s Executive Order 14045 and housed under the leadership of Secretary Miguel Cardona at the U.S. Department of Education. The Initiative works to: advance cradle to career education, equity and economic policy goals in partnership with the White House, federal agencies and external stakeholders; lead a 21-member commission that was recently announced; run a federal Interagency work group centered in advancing equity and access to federal resources for the Latino community; and lead in-person and virtual public engagement efforts.
Melody joined the Biden-Harris Administration from the National Education Association, the nation’s largest union representing 3 million educators – where she managed grants, partnerships and advocacy work with Latino organizations and local union affiliates. Her prior experience includes serving: on the Biden-Harris transition team’s Office of Personnel Management Agency Review Team; as a Senior Executive Service-level appointee in the Obama-Biden Administration — serving first as the U.S Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration Chief of Staff and then as Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; as a Legislative Assistant then Director of Member Outreach for former Congressman Xavier Becerra and the U.S. House of Representatives’ Democratic Caucus; as the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda’s Founding Director of the Latino Appointments Program and LatinasRepresent initiative; and as campaign staff to Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and the Obama-Biden campaigns in 2008 and 2012.
Born and raised in San Diego, California, Melody earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California San Diego, where she serves on the UCSD Alumni Association board, and began her career as a news writer at San Diego’s NBC News affiliate and as General Manager of Chula Vista’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. She went on to earn her Master of Public Policy and Executive Leadership Coaching certificate from Georgetown University. Holding additional leadership certificates from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and the Center for Creative Leadership, Melody is a passionate public servant committed to building the capacity of organizations and leaders shaping a brighter, more equitable future for our nation.