If money is power, Rosario Marin
has a whole lot of it.
It's not her
own cash, actually, but the nation's.
As treasurer of the United States
, the Mexican-born Marin sits atop the money heap, overseeing the makers of America's greenbacks
and its coins - the Bureau of Engraving and Printing
and the U.S. Mint
is not a household name, but her
autograph, along with that of the treasury secretary, is carried on billions of U.S. notes, tucked inside the wallets and pocketbooks of many Americans.The treasurer and the treasury secretary are the only two people who get to put their signatures on U.S. dollars.For Marin, who came to the United States from Mexico at age 14 unable to speak English, it has been an amazing journey, with unexpected twists and turns.
As the nation's 41st treasurer, and the first born outside the United States
, the 44-year-old Marin
is the highest-ranking Latin American woman in the Bush administration and a key player in the administration's efforts
to reach out to Hispanic voters, the fastest-growing bloc.She
is being floated as a possible Republican contender for a Senate seat from California in 2004.
"My dad was a factory worker.My mom used to help him by sewing at home.We had a two-room house in Mexico," Marin
said in a recent interview."There were five kids."A sixth child was born after the family moved to California.
Going to college at night and working during the day at a bank, Marin
planned a career in business."I was going to be the owner of my own bank," she said.
"I had plans.I knew what my future was going to be."
But those plans changed with the birth of her
first son, Eric, in 1985.He
was born with Down syndrome.Marin
stopped working on a master's in business administration, quit her
job at the bank, and she
husband, Alex, sold their house.
"It was that turning point in my life," she
eventually decided she
wanted to help people with disabilities and their families.Her political career began when she went to work for GOP California Gov.
Clad in a green and black suit - similar to the colors on U.S. dollars - and wearing coin jewelry from the U.S. Mint
jokingly said that she
did not know much about the treasurer's duties.But she
name would appear on greenbacks, and she
had an aim for the job: Promote financial literacy.
"I felt I would have the bully pulpit to go out there and do as much as I could to educate America about personal finances," Marin
has, in countless speeches since taking office in the summer of 2001.Marin
is especially passionate about educating the poor - a group most likely to pay excessive interest rates on loans.She
has worked to try to get lower-income people and others into the banking system, helping them to set up savings and checking accounts.Treasury officials estimate that one in 10 American households are in the ranks of "unbanked."Mike Madrid, a political consultant at the San Antonio firm Guerra DeBerry Coody, wants Marin to run for the Senate from California in 2004, taking on incumbent Barbara Boxer.
As to her
own political aspirations, Marin
is noncommital."I am incredibly flattered," she
said."But it is something that I have not sought."Marin
reluctance to come to the United States
, worried she
would miss her
"quinceanera" party, a rite of passage for a girl turning 15.She
parents took her
back to Mexico to celebrate with family and friends.
"It rained ... my dress was all muddy," but she
was still thrilled, Marin
said."One of my little dreams had come true."
ON THE NET:Treasury Department: http://www.ustreas.gov/
Last changed: March 14.