Aspen Institute Latinos and Society (AILAS) hosted the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, Alejandra Y. Castillo and Co-Founder and Executive Director for the Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University, Bruce Katz for a webinar fireside chat conversation focused on the EDA’s newly launched American Rescue Plan Programs. The webinar held on January 10, 2022 explored for the American Rescue Plan Programs, alongside multiple other Federal investment opportunities, represent a once in a lifetime opportunity to directly benefit previously underserved communities affected by Covid-19.
Speakers for this webinar include:
Alejandra Y. Castillo
U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, Department of Commerce
Alejandra Y. Castillo was sworn in as U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development on August 13, 2021. She has served in leadership positions for three presidents – Biden, Obama and Clinton. Her professional career spans two decades, focusing on creating equitable and inclusive opportunities for all Americans.
Prior to EDA, Castillo was the Chief Executive Officer of YWCA USA, where she championed the 163-year-old organization delivering critical social, educational, and economic development services throughout its 204 associations.
In 2014, Castillo was appointed by President Obama to serve as the national director of the Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), becoming the first Hispanic woman to lead the agency. During her tenure, she led MBDA’s efforts to boost the growth and global competitiveness of minority business enterprises (MBEs). Under her leadership, MBDA expanded its effort to help MBEs gain access to capital, contracts, and business opportunities, assisting MBEs in growing in size and scale.
Castillo first joined the Department of Commerce in 2008 as a Special Advisor to the Under Secretary for the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA). Additionally, Castillo served as a Senior Policy Analyst in the White House during the Clinton Administration.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, a master’s degree in public affairs from the LBJ School at the University of Texas at Austin, and earned a Juris Doctor degree from American University’s Washington College of Law.
Co-Founder and Inaugural Executive Director for Nowak Metro Finance Lab, Drexel University (Moderator)
Katz regularly advises global, national, state, regional and municipal leaders on public reforms and private innovations that advance the well-being of metropolitan areas and their countries.
Katz is the co-author of The New Localism: How Cities Can Thrive in the Age of Populism (Brookings Institution Press, 2018) and The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros are Fixing Our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy (Brookings Institution Press, 2013). Both books focus on the rise of cities and city networks as the world’s leading problem solvers.
Katz was the inaugural Centennial Scholar at the Brookings Institution from January 2016 to March 2018, where he focused on the challenges and opportunities of global urbanization. Prior to assuming this role, Bruce J. Katz was a vice president at the Brookings Institution and founding Director of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.
Before joining Brookings, Katz served as chief of staff to U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros and was the senior counsel and then staff director for the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Affairs. After the 2008 presidential election, Bruce co-led the housing and urban transition team for the Obama administration and served as a senior advisor to new Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Secretary Shaun Donovan, for the first 100 days of the Administration.
Katz is a visiting Professor at the London School of Economics. He gives dozens of lectures and presentations annually before public, corporate, civic and university audiences across the world. In 2006, he received the prestigious Heinz Award in Public Policy for his contributions to understanding the “function and values of cities and metropolitan areas and profoundly influencing their economic vitality, livability and sustainability.” Katz is a graduate of Brown University and Yale Law School.
Executive Director, Aspen Institute Latinos & Society
Domenika Lynch is a purpose-driven, strategic and inspirational leader, a champion for women’s rights and social equity, and a longtime advocate for the Latino community.
Over the course of two decades in leadership roles, Lynch has overseen strategic planning, policy advocacy, and public affairs campaigns for nonprofits and corporations, increasing donor and stakeholder support and raising millions of dollars for organizational endowments. She skillfully facilitates internal and external relationships for maximum social impact, prioritizes mentoring, and empowering the next generation of leaders.
Lynch leads the Latinos and Society Program at the Aspen Institute. The Program focuses on shared learning across communities of influencers on the critical barriers preventing greater Latino achievement, and a space to identify, promote, and catalyze ideas and solutions that increase opportunities for American Latinos. All of AILAS programming is rooted in the goal of increasing recognition that the nation’s success depends on Latinos’ inclusion at all levels of society.
From July 2016 to May 2019, Lynch served as president and CEO of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), the preeminent Latino leadership institute founded by Hispanic members of Congress in Washington, DC. Building on CHCI’s 40-year legacy, she led an organizational and financial turn-around, raising more than $20 million to ensure that CHCI will remain a premier national convener for thought leadership.
She previously spent more than a decade as executive director of the Latino Alumni Association (LAA) at the University of Southern California. During her tenure, LAA doubled its membership and tripled its endowment. Her professional breadth extends into the corporate sector, with previous leadership positions at Bank of America and Univision.
Lynch’s dedication to advancing positive change has been widely recognized. She received the 2019 National Ohtli Award from the Mexican government for services to the Mexican and Mexican American communities, the 2018 Leadership Award from Crittenton Services of Greater Washington for empowering young women and teen mothers, and the 2018 Legacy Award from the USC Latino Alumni Association. She was highlighted as one of The Hill’s 2017 Latina Leaders to Watch.
Lynch currently serves on the board of Casa 0101 Theater and volunteers in her local community. A graduate of the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, Lynch holds a master’s degree from the USC Rossier School of Education.