Director of the Office of Personnel Management: Who Is Katherine Archuleta?
President Obama has nominated a longtime public administrator and political supporter to be the next director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the federal agency that manages the federal workforce and ensures that agencies comply with civil service laws and regulations in hiring, managing or firing employees. Katherine Archuleta, who will be the first Hispanic to hold the post, would succeed John Berry, whose term expired in April.
Born circa 1949, Archuleta earned a B.A. in Elementary Education at the Metropolitan State University of Denver in 1971 and a M.Ed. at the University of Northern Colorado in 1976.
Starting her career as an educator, Archuleta taught 5-year-olds at Del Pueblo elementary school in Denver. In 1972, Archuleta met pony-tailed activist attorney Federico Peña and joined his civil rights case demanding the government provide quality public education for Spanish-speaking students.
Eventually, Peña was elected mayor of Denver, and Archuleta served his administration in a number of roles from 1983 to 1991, including deputy chief of staff. After the end of Peña’s second term, Archuleta joined the faculty at the University of Denver as an adjunct professor from 1992 to 1993.
After the election of Bill Clinton to the White House in 1992, Peña was named Secretary of Transportation and came calling again. From 1993 to 1997, Archuleta served at the Department of Transportation (DOT), first as Peña’s deputy chief of staff and then as his chief of staff. When Peña left DOT to serve 15 months as Secretary of Energy, Archuleta served as his senior policy advisor there.
Leaving Washington and returning to Denver in 1997, Archuleta was co-founder and principal of the Center for Regional and Neighborhood Action from 1997 to 2000, worked as director of professional services for large Denver law firm Davis, Graham and Stubbs from 2000 to 2002, and served as the executive director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center Foundation from 2002 to 2005.
Returning to Denver city government, Archuleta served as a senior advisor on policy and initiatives from October 2005 to May 2009, working closely with Mayor John Hickenlooper.
After the election of Barack Obama in 2008, Archuleta served as chief of staff to Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis from 2009 to 2011. She was then appointed national political director for Obama for America, i.e., the President’s re-election campaign, a position she held from 2011 to 2012.
A lifelong Democrat, Archuleta has donated $3,945 to Democratic candidates and committees, including $2,145 to President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, $400 to the Democratic National Committee in 1996, $400 to Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign of 1996, and $450 to Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colorado) in 2004.
She is married to Edmundo Gonzales, and they have one daughter, Graciela.
To Learn More:
What can Katherine Archuleta do for Feds? (by Michael O’Connell, Federal News Radio)
The Wizard of Planning (by Susan Barnes-Gelt, Denver Post)
Katherine Archuleta, Obama Political Director: Latinos Have Arrived (by Sara Inés Calderón, politic365)
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