National policymakers rely on UTRGV professor’s expertise

BY Gail Fagan

Sharing her knowledge of Hispanic socioeconomic outcomes at a national level has become a frequent experience for Dr. Marie T. Mora, associate vice provost for Faculty Diversity and professor of economics at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Mora recently was invited to the White House to participate in the “Fulfilling America’s Future: Latinas in the U.S.” summit presented by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. She was the only higher education representative on a four-member panel addressing “Latinas in the Economy: The Spirit of Entrepreneurship in America.”

This was Mora’s second invitation to the White House to share her research findings and discuss national economic developments.

During this visit, Mora shared statistics on the impact Latina entrepreneurs are having on the U.S. economy. The other panelists, all successful Latina business owners, described their journeys and best business practices.

“I found that what the women had to say confirmed findings in my research – access to credit through formal channels is difficult,” Mora said. “Moreover, one of the fastest growing groups of entrepreneurs is Hispanic women, particularly immigrants, which all three of the other panelists are.”

The Oct. 21 summit highlighted the findings of the Initiative’s report, “Fulfilling America’s Future: Latinas in the U.S.,” which featured participation by Latinas in education, health, labor, housing and politics.

According to the report, Latinas are one in five females in the United States and will comprise nearly one third of the country’s female population by 2060.

The summit also featured panels addressing education achievement and Latinas in the workforce and non-traditional careers, and presentations by U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. John B. King Jr., U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios, several White House executive administrators, and leaders in the arts nationwide.

Early this summer, Mora had gone to Washington, D.C., as an invited member of a group of leading economists who met with Dr. Janet Yellen, chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, to discuss the need for more diversity within the Fed – the central banking system in the United States. That meeting was her second one with a sitting Fed chair; the first was with two-term Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke in 2012.

In recent years, she also has shared her expertise in Washington, D.C., and across the country, with the White House Council of Economic Advisers and the U.S. Department of Labor.

Mora is a current member of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics Data Users Advisory Committee, which meets twice a year.

Widely considered a leading labor economist in the United States, Mora co-authored the award-winning book “Hispanic Entrepreneurs in the 2000s” (Stanford University Press), and currently is director of the National Science Foundation-funded American Economic Association’s Mentoring Program.

Mora said she is hopeful that events like the summit will increase the visibility of the key economic and social roles that Hispanics, and Hispanic women, are playing in shaping the direction of the country.

“Given changing demographics, the roles of Hispanics are only becoming increasingly important, and access to higher education will be a driving force,” she said.