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Aída M. Álvarez (born 1950) is the first Hispanic woman and Puerto Rican to hold a United States Cabinet-level position.

Early years

Alvarez was born in Aguadilla, Puerto Ricomarker into a family of modest economical means, who despite their hardships always encouraged her to pursue her dreams. After she received her primary education in Puerto Rico, her family moved to New York Citymarker in hopes of improving their economic situation. In New York, she attended high school and participated in a program called "ASPIRA". "ASPIRA" was founded by Dr. Antonia Pantoja and has helped disadvantaged children, especially girls, gain the leadership skills and knowledge required to go to college.

Álvarez applied and was accepted at Harvard Universitymarker where in 1971 she earned her Bachelors of Arts degree grauduating Cum Laude. During her student years many people provided her with support.

Journalist for the New York Post

Álvarez began her career as a journalist for the New York Post and won a "Front Page Award". She later became a news reporter and anchor for Metromedia Television (Channel Five) also in New York. In 1982, she won an Associated Press Award for Excellence and she was nominated for an Emmy Award for her reporting of guerilla activities in El Salvadormarker.

Álvarez ventured into the banking business by becoming an investment banker at the First Boston Corporation and at Bear Stearns. As a public servant, she spent two years at the NYC Health and Hospitals Corp. She was also a commissioner on the New York City Charter Revision Commission and a member of the Mayor's (NYC) Committee on Appointments. On June 1993, Álvarez was named Director of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight. She created a financial safety and soundness oversight program for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Small Business Administration

In 1997, Álvarez was appointed by President Bill Clinton, Administrator of the Small Business Administration, thus becoming the first Hispanic woman and Puerto Rican to serve as an executive officer in the U.S. Cabinet. She directed the delivery of a comprehensive set of financial and business development programs for Americanmarker small businesses. The agency provided financing worth eleven billion dollars a year to small businesses across the nation.

In 2000, Álvarez was elected to the Board of Overseers of Harvard University. Her role is to visit the graduate schools, departments and museums of the University to ensure that the University remains true to its Charter as a place of learning. She also serves on the National Trust for Historic Preservation; the Coalition for Supportive Housing and is on the Board of Trustees of the Latino Community Foundation.

During the 2004 Presidential Election, Álvarez was named official spokeswoman for Senator John Kerry. Álvarez had met Kerry during her days as the Small Business Administration administrator. She became familiar with his work in the U.S. Senate for small business development. As of January 2008, Alvarez sits on the board of directors for Wal-Martmarker.

Álvarez has been featured in many magazines, among them "Latina Style" and is featured in the book "Hard Won Wisdom" by Fawn Gerner, where she is quoted as saying
"I first learned about leadership when I fought back after a female gang leader tried to bully me"

See also


  1. NNDB
  2. Gale Cengage learning
  3. University of Michigan News
  4. "Hard Won Wisdom", by Fawn Gerner, Publisher: Perigee Trade; 1st ed edition (October 9, 2001), ISBN 0399527117, ISBN 978-0399527111

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