California State University President Mildred Garcia has been elected to the board of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute that works to train Latinos for positions of political influence.
The institute is the nonprofit arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the group made up of 27 congressional members of Hispanic descent who have lobbied President Obama to pick up the pace on immigration reform.
One of the main functions of the institute is to hold Washington, D.C.-based training programs for young Latinos interested in working in politics. Some institute graduates hold high-profile jobs and the organization hopes to see more trainees move into positions of influence.
“We have about a dozen that currently serve on the presidential administration for President Obama. You’ve got one who’s deputy chief of staff for the Department of Commerce, you also have a former assistant secretary of education,” said Carmen Joge, the institute's vice president for governance.
Garcia was not immediately available for comment, but Joge said her background will contribute to the institute's mission.
“Dr. Garcia’s experience lends so much to the board of directors itself both in terms of where the institute is today but also where it hopes to be in the future,” Joge said.
Garcia, the daughter of immigrants who moved from Puerto Rico to New York City, brings to the board wide experience in higher education, the institute said. She has served as president of CSU Fullerton since 2012 and headed CSU Dominguez Hills as president for five years prior to taking the Fullerton post.
She has taught as a faculty member in schools of education and as an administrator serving Latinos on both coasts.
While not a Latina of Mexican origin, Garcia has run institutions in California where the great majority of Latinos are of Mexican origin, said David Ayon, Center for the Study of Los Angeles senior fellow. In addition, Garcia has "the familiarity of, awareness of Puerto Rican communities across the country and other Caribbean-origin communities,” he said.
Institute leaders said Garcia joins the organization as it gears up for discussions on expanding the group’s leadership program. About 150 high school and college graduates take part in the training each year. Just over 3,000 people have graduated from the programs since 1981.
If the institute grows its leadership program from 150 graduates to 250 graduates as it aims to do, Joge said, Garcia can help create a program that’s academically sound.