Treasury’s New Racial Equity Chief Spent 10 Years as Director at La Raza Group

A veteran La Raza official who spent a decade at the nation’s most influential—and deep pocketed—open borders group has been appointed by the Biden administration to be the U.S. Treasury Department’s first ever Counselor for Racial Equity. Her name is Janis Bowdler and she served as Director of Economic Policy at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the leftist organization that saw a dramatic increase in government funding during the Obama administration. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo describes Bowdler as a “proud Latina” who will help the agency “focus on racial equity” and ensure “programs create opportunity in communities of color.”

Bowdler will coordinate the Treasury Department’s efforts to advance racial equity by engaging with diverse communities nationwide to identify and mitigate barriers to accessing benefits and opportunities, according to an announcement issued by the agency this week. That will include improving access to the child tax credit and understanding how community development financial Institutions and minority depository institutions can transform access to capital in communities of color. “The American economy has historically not worked fairly for communities of color,” Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen says in the statement. “The pandemic threw a spotlight on this inequity; people of color were often the first to lose their jobs and businesses. Treasury must play a central role in ensuring that as our economy recovers from the pandemic, it recovers in a way that addresses the inequalities that existed long before anyone was infected with COVID-19.” Bowdler was hired to devote her efforts to that mission, Yellen added.

Among the top priorities for the agency’s new appointee is creating a Racial Equity Advisory Committee to provide leadership with advice and expert counsel focused on advancing equity for communities that have historically been left behind. The new task force will include academics, researchers, industry leaders, community-based advocates, and philanthropists. Bowdler promises to deliver and keep with the Biden administration’s “commitment to centering racial equity in its work.” The Treasury’s new racial equity czar also offers some background that qualifies her for the new position at the agency charged with maintaining a strong economy and protecting the integrity of the financial system. “I have spent my entire career working in solidarity with Black, Latinx, AAPI, Native communities, and other communities of color to dismantle the structural and institutional racism that perpetuates the racial wealth divide,” Bowdler said this week. “Addressing racial and gender disparities and giving underserved communities greater access to opportunities creates more broadly shared prosperity for all.”

The political appointment of a high-ranking official dedicated solely to racial equity is only a small part of a broader plan to diversify the Treasury, which has around 100,000 employees worldwide. “We are also deeply committed to improving diversity and inclusion among the broader career Treasury workforce,” according to Adeyemo, the deputy secretary, who reveals that more than 40% of the agency’s political appointees identify as “people of color.” It is not enough, however. “With more people of color and people from different backgrounds and lived experiences at the decision-making and policy-making table, Treasury is better able to make policies and administer programs to reach more American families, businesses, and communities,” according to Adeyemo, who assures Bowdler is a perfect fit who started her career working to advance racial equity on the east side of Cleveland.

Of interesting note is that one of Bowdler’s recent accolades highlighted in the administration’s promotional materials is co-authoring a book with a disgraced Clinton cabinet official. His name is Henry Cisneros, and he was the 42nd president’s Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary before getting charged with 18 felonies for obstructing justice, conspiracy and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about payments to a former mistress. At the time Cisneros was a rising star in the Democratic party and the highest-ranking Hispanic in the Clinton administration. The Bowdler-Cisneros book is titled “Building Equitable Cities: How to Drive Economic Mobility and Regional Growth.”

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