The Columbia School of Social Work has announced that Maria Echaveste, one of the highest ranking Latinas to have served in a presidential administration, will be the speaker at the graduation ceremony for its 2016 graduates, to be held on Wednesday, May 18, at 2:00 p.m. at Beacon Theatre, on Broadway and 72nd Street.

A long-time community leader and corporate attorney, Ms. Echaveste served in Washington, D.C., for eight years as a senior White House and U.S. Department of Labor official.

From 1998 to 2001, she was assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff to President Bill Clinton. Among her responsibilities was overseeing issues relating to immigration, civil rights, education, finance, Mexico and Latin America.

From 1993 to 1997, she served as the administrator of the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor. In that role, she was responsible for the management and policy direction of programs related to federal laws including the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. One of her key achievements was an award-winning anti-sweatshop initiative.

After leaving the White House, Ms. Echaveste co-founded the Nueva Vista Group, a public policy consulting group that works with nonprofit organizations, associations and corporations on immigration, civic engagement, labor rights and education. She has also been serving on the board of directors of the California Healthcare Foundation, the New World Foundation and the U.S.-Mexico Foundation. In 2009, she was appointed by then-Secretary Hillary Clinton as a special representative to Bolivia.

Currently, Ms. Echaveste is a senior fellow at the UC Berkeley Center for Latin American Studies and, for the 2015-2016 academic year, has been a Visiting Scholar with the Berkeley Food Institute, a multi-disciplinary center at UC Berkeley, focused on transforming our nation’s food system.

Additionally, she is a Senior Fellow with the Opportunity Institute, a recently formed non-profit working to accelerate improvements to our nation’s public education system.

Ms. Echaveste received a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from Stanford University in 1976 and a Juris Doctor from the University of California at Berkeley in 1980.

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