Treasurer Rosie Rios: The Breaker of Barriers
Get to Know the 2017 NCCWSL Women of Distinction
Name: Rosie Rios
Occupation: 43rd Treasurer of the United States
Education: Harvard University, Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley
We all know the narrative of the American dream — it’s about coming from humble beginnings and dedicating yourself to your education and career to make a better life for your family. But Rosie Rios, the 43rd Treasurer of the United States, does not have your typical success story.
Treasurer Rios has always had a strong work ethic. The daughter of Mexican immigrants, she and her siblings were encouraged to work at an early age. She found her dream job in the local county library system while in high school. Why her dream job? Because every book was now available to her.
Treasurer Rios went on to attend Harvard and worked through school. She graduated with distinction and — if that weren’t enough — she also received the Dean’s award for starting an annual cultural festival that has featured everyone from Lucy Liu to John Legend. She literally leaves her mark on the 380-year-old institution as the first Harvard Latina to have a portrait painted in her honor.
For most of her career, Rios worked in real estate finance and local government in northern California. After working on President Obama’s first election campaign in 2008, she joined his Treasury-Federal Reserve transition team. In 2009, the president appointed her as the 43rd Treasurer of the United States, a role that provided her with a unique platform to speak for the underrepresented — especially women — while overseeing 4,000 employees and a budget of $5 billion.
Rios has been a champion for featuring women on U.S. currency. Though today women make up more than half of the U.S. workforce, the gender pay gap persists. Women, on average, are paid only 80 cents to a man’s dollar. Moreover, a woman has never been featured on the front of paper currency in the history of our country. The math doesn’t add up, and Treasurer Rios insisted on changing the equation.
After centuries of waiting, women will grace the front of the currency we use every day to make our own American dreams come true. Beginning in 2020, Harriet Tubman will be unveiled as the new face of the $20 bill. Changes to the $10 bill will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote. On the back of the $10 bill, an image will show the suffragists during their 1913 march, which ended at the Treasury Department, bringing this tale full circle back to Rios.
Treasurer Rios is committed to engaging interest and dialogue around women’s roles in American history. She has met with AAUW members to discuss the importance of women on U.S. currency and participated in a panel discussion on AAUW’s research report, Barriers and Bias: The Status of Women in Leadership. She continues advocating for women and girls’ empowerment and recently launched the educational project Teachers Righting History, which highlights women who have influenced American history.
“Women need to make sure that we honor and recognize our foremothers and connect with each other. This collective voice — this strength in numbers — will be so much more if we band together and inspire each other,” Rios said.
Treasurer Rios has made sure to bring women to the forefront of so many discussions. Throughout her career she has celebrated women in our country’s history and future. She will undoubtedly empower and inspire you at NCCWSL.