Note: This post originally appeared on The Commerce Blog as part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president’s vision of winning the future through their work.
Francisco J. Sánchez is the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.
Francisco Sánchez, under secretary for international trade (left), and Chris DeMoulin, executive vice president of Advanstar Fashion Group and president of MAGIC International (right), cut the ribbon that officially opened the Sourcing at MAGIC show on August 22, 2011, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (photo courtesy U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel)
I consider myself a lucky guy.
Every day, I have the privilege of serving the American people as the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade. It is a tremendous honor to be able to give back to a country that has given so much to me.
My story is the American story. My grandparents and father were immigrants from Spain; they believed in the American Dream, and worked hard to achieve it.
We lived in Tampa, Florida. Growing up, I learned a lot of lessons that serve me well today. Through my father, who used to run a candy factory in Spain, I was able to learn how important small- and medium-sized businesses are to a community’s development. My mother worked as the Director of one of the first Head Start programs in the country. She wanted all children to get the best possible start in life and dedicated her time to helping others. That’s why she is my hero.
Together, my parents taught me to love my community and country. And, they also raised me to take pride in our Hispanic roots, history and culture — and I always have.
Because of their example, from an early age, I knew that I wanted to be involved in public service. At the federal level, I got my first opportunity in the 1990’s, when I served as a Special Assistant to then-President Bill Clinton. Eventually, I became an Assistant Secretary of Transportation.
There is nothing like doing work that positively impacts people’s lives and futures. Even after I went on to the private sector, where I served as an international business consultant, I never lost my desire to come back to government,
That’s why I am so grateful and honored that President Obama selected me to lead the International Trade Administration. Through my work at the ITA, I’ve met so many talented American entrepreneurs and business-owners. They are doing innovative work and creating cutting-edge products. They just need opportunities to sell their ideas and goods.
That’s where we come in. Our mission is simple: To give people and companies new markets to do business in abroad, so that we can strengthen the economy here at home. Not only does this bolster their bottom lines, it also supports quality jobs for the American people. In fact, as President Obama has highlighted, this work is a key to our nation’s continued economic recovery.
Nearly two years ago, the President announced the National Export Initiative. The goal is to double the nation’s exports by the end of 2014. I’m proud to say that we’re well on our way to achieving this goal. And, it’s incredibly rewarding for me to help lead this effort.
It’s also incredibly rewarding to do work outside of the halls of government. I’ve long been active in the Boys and Girls Club; in fact, I’m honored to be a member of its Hall of Fame. I’ve also been privileged to mentor young people through the Hillsborough Education Foundation. And, I’m very proud to be a former board member of the ChairScholars Foundation.
Throughout my life, I have had the opportunity to meet so many unsung heroes who are doing valuable work to touch the lives of those around them. They are students who take the time to mentor others; parents who find the time to coach the local little league team; volunteers who give up weekends to work at senior centers and so much more.
So, during this Hispanic Heritage Month, I want to give special thanks to all the quiet heroes who have made, and continue to make a difference. Their names may never appear in the history books, but they’ve made a lasting impact on lives, and enormous contributions to our communities.
Just like my parents.