She is a woman with a job to do and she takes it seriously. Very seriously. Coincidentally, her job is to make sure that other people get jobs; jobs that will ensure the federal government continues operating at a high level of efficiency.
One of Katherine Archuleta’s latest stops was Colorado and Jefferson County’s Federal Center where she took time to discuss her new job, Director of Office of Personnel Management, the federal agency responsible for hiring, recruiting and promoting all federal workers. In all, Archuleta is responsible for a workforce of two million and a slightly larger number of federal retirees.
“I’m here to talk about the opportunities there are in federal service,” Archuleta says very directly. Her itinerary the day before the three-day Memorial Day weekend is a series of meetings including appointments with Native Americans, Latinos and with the American Association of Indian Physicians. A day earlier, she was in Colorado Springs meeting with veterans, women veterans and a group of non-profits who serve and support veterans. Colorado is her latest but far from her last stop on this national tour.
If Archuleta’s name seems familiar, it is. The native New Mexican and Denver transplant began her climb up the public service ladder as then Mayor Federico Peña’s Chief of Staff. Since then she has held a number of high-level positions including her most recent job as the Chief of Staff to former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.
In her new role – she has been on the job for only six months – she is, in a way, returning to her days as a classroom teacher. “I think there’s this misconception that everybody who works for the federal government works in D.C.,” she says. Many of her young audiences are not aware that this is certainly not the case. The reality is that 85 percent of the government workforce operates outside Washington.
With a seismic shift in national demographics and Latinos now the fastest growing segment of the population, Archuleta wants to increase Latino federal employment to a figure that more closely reflects its population. “I haven’t set a target for where I want to be. I just want to improve it,” she says. Latinos currently make up 8.5 percent of the federal workforce which “doesn’t even come close to our demographics.” The 2010 census counted Latinos as nearly 18 percent of the total population.
Archuleta says her national recruitment will cover all age groups. “Not only am I recruiting at the millennial level – those who are coming out of college – but I’m also recruiting in the ‘next gen’” demographic, the millennial’s predecessors. That group, she says, is at mid-career and perhaps looking to do something new and different.
Archuleta’s tour is at the behest of the President who, she believes, is committed to creating a diverse federal workforce. “I would rate him very high,” she says of her boss and his drive to expand job opportunities to all Americans. The President, Archuleta points out, has diversified his own cabinet to now include three Latino members. Her position is a sub-Cabinet slot. She is the highest-ranking Latino at that level.
Her national tour will take her from Denver to New Mexico and unto Florida. But the opportunity to ask her about 2016 was too good to pass and as a final question Archuleta was asked if former Secretary of State Hillary will run for president. She was characteristically diplomatic and couched. “We will see the first woman president and we will see the first Latino president and I think that’s extremely exciting.”