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Power Players for HSIs and Tribal Colleges

These are some of the movers and shakers who make things happen in Washington, D.C.

In Washington, D.C., many individuals aspire to become power players. But the true test is the ability to infl uence policy and legislation, whether from the high perch of a House or Senate leadership post, a crowded offi ce where staffers write the nuts and bolts of federal legislation or the headquarters of grassroots organizations that advocate for change.

As the nation struggles through its toughest recession in decades, the role of power players is more important than ever. With these issues in mind, Diverse begins a two-part look at key federal players for minority-serving institutions. In this issue, we look at some of the many infl uential voices for Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) and tribal colleges. In the next edition, we profi le advocates of historically Black colleges and universities. The list is not designed as the defi nitive list of capital-area power brokers (we take for granted that President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are power players for minority-serving institutions, for example). But it is an attempt to identify some high-profile as well as unsung leaders who play a vital role in federal policy.

Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif.
Baca, a past chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, also chairs a key House agriculture subcommittee. From that post, he played a role in helping create an array of new federal programs for HSIs under the 2008 Farm Bill.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.
Bingaman is a key point person for both HSIs and tribal colleges in the Senate. Advocates have relied on him to sponsor bills and floor amendments supporting HSIs and tribal colleges. The fi ve-term senator also is a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Dorgan is serving in his third term in the Senate after six terms in the House of Representatives. Among other priorities, he has championed past increases for tribal colleges and universities. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., is vice chairman of the panel. There is no comparable committee in the House of Representatives.



Rep. RaĂşl Grijalva, D-Ariz.
A four-term House member, Grijalva recently took over as chairman of the education task force for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. An impartial congressional observer termed him “a rising star” on education issues who works hard for Hispanics and HSIs.



Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, D-Texas
The veteran Hispanic lawmaker is chairman of the House subcommittee on postsecondary education, a perch from which he can advocate for minority- serving institutions. He is an author of legislation to fund Hispanic-serving graduate institutions and a key player in Higher Education Act legislation.

Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii
One of the longest-serving senators, Inouye is past chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee and now leader of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee that sets funding for thousands of federal programs. Other key appropriators are Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations committee, and Reps. David Obey, D-Wis., and Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., chairman and senior Republican, respectively, on the House Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Mich.
A long-time member of Congress, the Michigan Democrat founded the House Native American Caucus in 1997. Kildee also is a senior Democrat on the Education and Labor Committee who has led past House efforts to re-authorize the Higher Education Act.

Rep. George Miller, D-Calif.
As chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, Miller is the House point person for all educationrelated legislation. Some aides say he has taken a greater interest in minority- serving institutions since becoming chairman. His senior education staffers include Denise Forte and Jeff Appel.

Obama Administration

Gabriella Gomez
Former senior adviser to Rep. George Miller, Gomez is now assistant education secretary for legislation and congressional affairs. In that post, she is the administration’s chief education liaison to Capitol Hill, where critical issues for MSIs such as fi nancial aid, college access and completion and low-income students will get signifi cant attention.

Martha Kanter
As the new undersecretary at the Department of Education, Kanter is the department’s highest-ranking offi cial for postsecondary education. Her background as a community college president and administrator may be critical as the administration plans major new initiatives on community colleges. Given that many HSIs and tribal colleges are two-year institutions, such discussions may have major implications for these MSIs. Kanter’s deputy, Robert Shireman, is a policy veteran who founded the Institute for College Access & Success and the Project on Student Debt.

Juan SepĂşlveda
SepĂşlveda is the new executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. Prior to joining the administration, he was founder and president of The Common Enterprise, which worked to build stronger communities by expanding the effectiveness of nonprofi t organizations, governments and businesses. The former talk show host and Hispanic voting rights advocate also served as Texas state director for Obama for America.

Kimberley Teehee
Obama in June appointed Teehee to the newly created post of senior policy advisor on Native American issues. A member of the Cherokee nation, she will serve on the president’s Domestic Policy Council. Teehee is a former aide to Rep. Dale Kildee, co-chairman of the House of Representatives’ Native American Caucus.

Nonprofit Organizations

Carrie Billy
Billy is president of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium in Alexandria, Va. Founded in 1972, AIHEC is a central voice for 36 tribal colleges in the United States. Billy is a member of the Navajo Nation and an attorney who has served as president since June 2008. She previously served as the fi rst director of the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities, from 1998 to 2001, and as AIHEC’s federal relations counsel. Meg Goetz is AIHEC’s vice president for advocacy.

Sarita Brown
Co-founded in 2004 by Brown, Excelencia in Education bridges data and policy issues on Latino education. The group emphasizes data-driven analysis of education issues and has garnered national attention with its reports and fact sheets. The group’s president, Brown is former executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans.



Antonio Flores
The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities represents nearly 450 colleges and universities and plays a signifi cant role in building federal support for HSIs and Hispanic education. HACU has memoranda of understanding and other partnership agreements with many federal agencies to enhance the role played by HSIs. Flores has served as president since 1996. He is a familiar face in Washington and recently was named one of the most infl uential leaders on Hispanic issues by Latino Leaders magazine.

Dr. Gumecindo Salas, a former Michigan State University professor, is HACU’s vice president for government relations. Hispanic Education Coalition Its leadership may vary from year to year, but this self-described ad hoc coalition includes many major players such as the National Council of La Raza, HACU and the National Education Association. NCLR’s Erika Beltrán is one of the current co-chairs.

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