Rosa Rios: Sixth Latino To Occupy U.S. Treasurer Office
Rosa “Rosie” Gumataotao Rios, a first generation Mexican American, was raised in Hayward, California by her single mother along with her eight siblings. When old enough, to help her mother, Rios took a job processing books at a library warehouse working long hours and often having to do her homework in the early morning hours.
The hard work paid off in 1983 when she attended Harvard University and ultimately graduated with a B.A. in Sociology.
After graduating, having developed strong roots in business and government in Northern California, Rios became a commercial property underwriter, and then moved to Union City where she became the city’s redevelopment agency manager. After, she became a development specialist for nearby San Leandro, and for four years after moving to Fremont in 1997, she was the director of economic development.
In 1996 Rios and Guamanian husband, Jose Diaz Gumataotao, Jr welcomed their first child, Joey into the family, and in 2000, their second, daughter Brooke.
In 2001 Rios moved on to Oakland and became the city’s director of economic development and redevelopment where she was credited with revitalizing the city’s faltering economy by attracting hundreds of businesses and initializing several new development projects. By 2002 she was already embroiled in controversy when Mayor Jerry Brown and City Manager Robert Bobb disagreed about building a new baseball stadium for the Oakland Athletics to keep the team from moving out of the city. Brown ultimately backed a large housing development and removed Bobb from office as well as several of the city manager’s allies, which included Rios, who later came out in favor of the housing project.
In 2008, Rios volunteered to work for the presidential campaign of then Senator Barack Obama. While with the campaign she used here skills to convince Latino voters in Virginia to vote for the Illinois senator. Upon Obama’s presidential win, Rios took an official leave of absence from real estate investment firm MacFarlane Partners, to join his Treasury-Federal Reserve transition team as a lead staff member on behalf of the treasury. On May 18th, 2009 President Obama officially nominated Rios as U.S. Treasurer, and she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate of July 24th. She was sworn in as the Treasurer of the United States on August 20th, 2009 becoming the sixth Latino to occupy the office and the third consecutive Californian. Rios credits her mother for inspiring her with her own accomplishments.