Katherine D. Ortega: 1934—: Former Government Official, Banker, Accountant
Became U.s. Secretary Of The Treasury
In 1983 the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury was Angela Marie Buchanan. During the summer of that year, Buchanan decided that she had served her term and told Reagan that she would step down as soon as he could find a replacement. Reagan began to solicit suggestions from numerous members of his cabinet and his party, and once again Domenici, who was now a chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, suggested Ortega for the position. Reagan agreed that the country would benefit from someone of Ortega's skills. Reagan officially nominated Ortega on September 12, 1983, surprising many members of the Reagan Administration who assumed that the position would be offered to more long time notable Republicans such as Nancy Kassebaum or Elizabeth Dole. Yet as Reagan said in his nomination speech, according to the New York Times, Ortega was "symbolic of the values the Hispanic community represents" and added that "nothing is a better influence on America than the strength and decency of the Hispanic family." With this type of support behind her, Ortega was quickly put before the Senate for confirmation, and on September 23, 1983, Ortega began her term as the 39th U. S. Secretary of the Treasury.
Ortega found herself part of the long legacy of women that had held the position of U. S. treasurer, but was only the second Hispanic woman to serve in this position; the first being Romana Acosta Bañuelos in 1974. As the U. S. treasurer, Ortega was in charge of the United States Mint along with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the United States Savings Bond Division. Her yearly duties included the mammoth job of maintaining an account of government spending, handling the nation's $220 million budget, sorting through and rectifying claims for lost, stolen, or counterfeit government checks, and burning unusable U. S. currency. She was also responsible for overseeing the jobs of 5,000 people employed by her divisions. Even more importantly to the Republican party, she was a high-profile ranking official who often was responsible for attending and representing the party at numerous ceremonial functions.
Ortega spent her time as the U. S. Treasurer split between monitoring and budgeting the nation's spending habits and promoting the role of Hispanics in the U. S. government. In 1984 she was given the honor of delivering the keynote address at the Republican National Convention, where she pushed for the Republican party to strongly look at the Hispanic communities in the country as a source of support. In her address, reprinted in Vital Speeches of the Day, she called out to the Hispanic community to embrace the Republican party saying, "To the millions of Democrats abandoned by their national leadership … we Republicans in Dallas say: we welcome you to our home. Nuestra casa es su casa. Our home is your home." She was also a strong advocate for women to take a closer look at the Republican party. Ortega knew that many women felt that the Republican party, specifically the Reagan administration, were not supportive of women and did not give many positions in the party to women, but as Ortega pointed out to the New York Times, "There is a perception that Ronald Reagan has not named women to his Administration. When I'm out there, I talk about all the subcabinet appointments. I want to set the record straight." Besides drawing new members to the Republican party, Ortega also looked to do some good for the country as the U. S. secretary, starting a program in 1985 to sell Liberty Coins that were designed to raise money to restore the State of Liberty. The program raised close to $40 million.
- Katherine D. Ortega: 1934—: Former Government Official, Banker, Accountant - Honored And Sought After Leaving Treasury
- Katherine D. Ortega: 1934—: Former Government Official, Banker, Accountant - Moved From Accounting To Politics
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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Grace Napolitano: 1936—: Politician to Richard (Wayne) Peck (1934-) Biography - CareerKatherine D. Ortega: 1934—: Former Government Official, Banker, Accountant Biography - Found Strengths In Banking And Accounting, Moved From Accounting To Politics, Became U.s. Secretary Of The Treasury