Overcoming Barriers: U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios Sets the Precedent

By: Ashmar Mandou

 Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Rosie Rios

During a visit to Chicago for the World’s Fair of Money in mid-August, U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios, a first generation Mexican-American and graduate of Harvard University, proclaimed her eternal love for her roots and took great joy in meeting with Chicago residents. With her charismatic presence, welcoming smile, and fierce determination to inspire future Latino leaders, Treasurer Rios sat down with the Lawndale Bilingual Newspaper to share with us her greatest challenge, her hope for the Latino community and why Chicago is the best city in the country.

Mexican Roots
I am very proud of my Latino roots and obviously this position has its own tradition with the Latino community. I am the first Latina appointed by a democrat in my position, so again very proud of that. And I am the first treasurer in many, many years to have this oversight in the BEP [Bureau of Engraving and Printing] and the Mint. So to be able to interact, not only with the American public, but with my own Latino community and to bring credibility back to this position is something that is really important to me.

Defining Rios
I think that probably the Rosie Rios that I am most proud of is as a mom. I have a 15 year-old son and an 11 year-old daughter and that is definitely my other world. I have my jobs and my kids and that for now is what defines me.

Cherished Lesson
I think the advice I would give to certainly the next generation that my mom gave to me and the same advice that I give to my kids, which is to really focus on your education. Education, in my opinion, is still the great equalizer. My mom managed as a single parent to put all nine of us through college. I am one of nine children and all nine of us went on to college. And when you think about investments, human capital is still the best investment that we can make. And the best investment we can make in ourselves is through our education system.

Latino community
Certainly, the recent Census data has demonstrated that the Latino community has grown and will continue to grow, certainly for the foreseeable future. What that brings is critical mass in having a voice in everything from politics, to the consumer base, to any advocacy that we believe is important not just for our community, but for the Nation as a whole.

Most Challenging
I think the most challenging is that there has not been a comprehensive approach to currency and coinage in the past. So I think to be able to look at those interests kind of as an umbrella perspective is a challenge, but it is also an opportunity, quite frankly. It is a way to really think about our operations in a more efficient way and also it is a great opportunity to reenergize the American public about what it is that we do. We have major milestones coming up with both the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the Mint. Next year happens to be our 220th anniversary for the U.S. Mint and it also happens to be our 150th anniversary for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. So to think about the most rewarding piece of my job, which is again being able to interact with the American public, is a great way to celebrate those milestones with the American public and hopefully inspire kids to think about currency and coin in a whole different way. Not just for managing their money and personal finance, but also to really appreciate what is behind every currency and coin design in terms of our country’s history, our country’s tradition, and our country’s culture on the back and front of every denomination

Love for Chicago
Chicago really is one of my favorite places. I tend to come back fairly often. I think Chicago is probably one of the most dynamic cities in terms of its economic base, its employment base, and also its quality of life. Just to be able to see the beauty of Chicago, not just its physical beauty, but every time I come back I always feel welcomed here. There is definitely a sense of enthusiasm in Chicago. It really does represent, in my opinion, the best of what we see in the American public. There is always something wonderful going on, some great outdoor celebration. Chicago really takes an interest in its community and in its people. So it is always great to be back.

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