Leading by Example

Rosie Rios: Community Builder & UnidosUS Donor

From running an investment management consulting firm, to running the U.S. Treasury, to being the proud mom of two young adults, and myriad roles in between, Rosie Rios brings a deep commitment to her mission of community-building. A graduate of Harvard University, in her early college days Rosie thought she would end up becoming a lawyer. But by junior year, after doing career exploration and talking to practicing attorneys, “I realized my heart is in community building,” she explained. Thus, Rosie launched into the field of economic development, urban revitalization, and real estate finance, in both the public and private sectors.

It was through this career trajectory, and in her role as director of economic development for the City of Oakland, that Rosie—a native of Hayward, CA—came to know and work with The Unity Council, one of the seven original UnidosUS (then NCLR) Affiliates. She was invited to be a board member and served from 2007 to 2009. During that time, Rosie gained a deeper understanding of UnidosUS and the organization’s “work to empower the community, not just through short-term assistance, but through a more strategic, long-term vision—[like the] projects developed with the CDFI [Raza Development Fund] —affecting residents as well as businesses,” Rosie said, underscoring that RDF, a support organization of UnidosUS, is the largest Latino Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in the country.

As the 43rd Treasurer of the United States, Rosie became the longest serving Senate-confirmed Treasury official, beginning on the transition team in 2008, until her resignation in 2016. As Treasurer, Rosie had the opportunity to work with UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía, as well as Cecilia Muñoz, UnidosUS alumna and Director of Domestic Policy under President Obama. “Working with Janet and Cecilia during my time in the administration allowed me to further get to know the good work that UnidosUS was doing,” Rosie shared.

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Now, as CEO of the investment management firm Red River Associates and a board member of Fidelity Charitable Trust and American Family Insurance, Rosie recently became an UnidosUS donor. “[These] two boards matched my donation, so it was great to see them leverage my interests,” Rosie explained, adding that her contribution was tripled because of the matching initiatives. “To be able to give back where I can, to those organizations that make a difference, that’s the best way to pay it forward,” Rosie said.

As the sixth of nine children, Rosie credits her mom with being her foundational mentor, and the village that was their Catholic church, with helping her and her siblings attend parochial schools and obtain higher education degrees. Reflecting on her roots in Hayward and Oakland, Rosie described how UnidosUS’s and our Affiliates’ work resonates with her, “[The] Unity Council is still active there, doing the work that, for some families, means life or death.”

She also shared her belief that the organization’s rebranded name, UnidosUS, sends a strong and important message. “The Latino community is diverse; we are over 18% of the overall population. That call for unity is something we need now more than ever. We are growing in numbers and thriving… This is just the beginning of our journey.”