US Senate confirms Rosie Hidalgo and Xochitl Torres Small to crucial positions in President Biden’s cabinet
Hidalgo is the first Latina Director of the Office on Violence Against Women. Torres Small is the new Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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Former Deputy Director for Policy at the Office on Violence Against Women Rosie Hidalgo was confirmed Tuesday, July 11 to be the first Latina Director of the Office on Violence Against Women at the U.S. Department of Justice. She was confirmed by a vote of 51-42.
Since March 2021, Hidalgo has served as a special assistant to President Joe Biden and senior advisor for the White House Gender Policy Council.
“Rosie Hidalgo is the daughter of Cuban immigrants and a proven leader in the fight to end gender-based violence,” Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “I am proud to have led the confirmation of this NYU law graduate to be the first Latina Director of the Office on Violence Against Women.”
Born to Cuban immigrants, Hidalgo has spent the last decade living in three different countries in Latin America, including living in the Dominican Republic where she helped establish and coordinate a community-based domestic violence prevention and intervention network and worked as a consultant for the World Bank on social services reforms.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and government from Georgetown University and a Juris Doctor from the New York University School of Law. Upon graduation, Hidalgo worked as a staff attorney for the Door, a Center of Alternatives and Legal Services of Northern Virginia.
From 2006 to 2009, she was the director of policy for Alianza, a non-profit organization. From 2014 to 2017, she served as deputy director of the Office on Violence Against Women for policy. From 2017 to 2021, she was the senior director of policy for Casa de Esperanza.
She then became an advisor on gender-based violence for the White House Gender Policy Council and special assistant to President Joe Biden in March 2021 before being confirmed in her new role Tuesday.
Her confirmation received praise from the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) in a statement shortly after news broke regarding the Senate’s decision.
“She is a nationally recognized leader with over 25 years of experience in legislative policy development and implementation, advocacy, grant and program management, and training,” they said.
Also on Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Xochitl Torres Small to serve as Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She was a U.S. representative for New Mexico's 2nd congressional district from 2019 to 2021.
The Senate voted 84-8 to confirm Torres Small as the new chief operating officer for a large government department.
Since leaving the House, she has been the Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture since 2021. In February 2023, President Biden nominated her to serve as the U.S. deputy secretary of agriculture.
She was previously a water rights lawyer before she joined Congress and grew up in New Mexico as the daughter of educators and the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants who were farmworkers.
As deputy secretary, Torres Small will oversee strategic planning for a department that operates 29 agencies and offices and employs roughly 100,000 people who mostly work outside the Beltway.
She will also have oversight of a portfolio including the ReConnect program that funds projects to give rural communities access to broadband service. Rural development programs also provide loans and grants for rural businesses, and clean water projects in small towns.
She was nominated by President Biden for the department’s No. 2 spot after Jewel Bronaugh resigned and left the department this past February.
During her May 10 nomination hearing, she delivered her vision for the Agriculture Department’s mission.
“If confirmed as deputy secretary, I would want to focus on being that customer service agency that our farmers and rural people rely on and all of the backend work that supports that effort,” Torres Small said.
She is the second New Mexican to serve in a high-level cabinet position in the Biden Administration, joining Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.
“Throughout her time as Under Secretary for Rural Development and in Congress, we have been proud to work with Xochitl to deliver for New Mexico farmers, ranchers, and rural communities. We look forward to continuing our work together as she begins in this new leadership role,” said Sens. Martin Henrich and Ben Ray Luján.