WASHINGTON, DC, US — A former Goldman Sachs vice president and advocate for social justice was appointed to the role of assistant secretary for administration at the US Department of Agriculture.
Oscar Gonzales, who previously served in several positions at the USDA under Secretary Tom Vilsack in the Obama administration, was appointed March 29 by President Joe Biden.
“Oscar has dedicated his life and career to fighting for underserved and marginalized communities,” Vilsack said. “He grew up in a working-class family in East Los Angeles and has worked at nearly every level in food and agriculture — from working on a horse farm to serving at the highest levels of leadership in state and federal government.
“With Oscar’s leadership and a team that reflects the diversity of our nation behind him, USDA is committed to ensuring equity across the Department, rooting out systemic racism and discrimination, and removing barriers to access to USDA programs.”
Gonzales, a graduate of the University of California, San Diego and East Los Angeles College, has a long track record of working at the federal and state level to advocate for social justice for underserved and marginalized communities with a focus on Hispanic communities. He worked for several years for the United Farm Workers Foundation. His wife, Christine Chavez, is the granddaughter of American labor and civil rights legend Cesar Chavez.
In the Obama administration, Gonzales filled several senior positions with the USDA, including as deputy assistant secretary for administration as well as deputy chief of staff for operations and senior adviser on immigration reform to Vilsack.
Previously, Gonzales oversaw FSA programs across 58 counties in the nation’s largest agricultural producing state, California, as state executive director for the USDA’s Farm Service Agency.
Before entering government service, Gonzales worked with various nonprofit organizations, including the Constitutional Rights Foundation, Building Up Los Angeles, the Corporation for National Service, California Community College Foundation, National Hispanic Environmental Council, East Los Angeles Residents Association, and the UFW Foundation.
In his most recent position, Gonzales worked for Goldman Sachs where he held the title of vice president for government relations for the western states.
Prior to that, he was vice president for community and government relations for Aura Financial, a CDFI-certified fintech company disrupting the predatory lending industry with loans that helped low-income people.