Rosa “Rosie” Gumataotao Rios may not be the first Latina to become Treasurer of the U.S. (five others have held the position), but she is nonetheless setting trends in other ways.
The name Gumataotao, from her husband, whose family is prominent on Guam, is part of her official signature and as such represents the first time that a Chamorro name appeared on U.S. currency. But Rios has been influential in far more important ways, such as trying to raise the level of financial literacy in the U.S.
A first-generation Mexican-American and one of nine children raised by a single mother, she worked to help out her family while still in school. With her mother as an inspiration, spurring her on, she attended Harvard University.
When she returned to her home state of California, she focused on reinsurance and in economic development. A stint at MacFarlane Partners, where she was investments managing director, gave her the opportunity to work on urban investment and development in northern California.
While there, Rios volunteered for Barack Obama’s political campaign, and after he won the presidency, she took a leave of absence to join his Treasury-Federal Reserve transition team, serving as lead staffer for external stakeholder outreach on behalf of the Treasury.