Graduates from UTSA, UIW to join President-elect Joe Biden’s cabinet

UTSA grad said Hillary Clinton ‘told me I could do it, that I could do anything’

President-elect Joe Biden speaks at The Queen theater, Monday, Dec. 28, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris listens at right. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) (Andrew Harnik, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

SAN ANTONIO – Four Texans who graduated from universities in San Antonio are headed to the White House to serve in President-elect Joe Biden’s cabinet.

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Tuesday announced two graduates from the University of Texas at San Antonio — Emmy Ruiz and Adrian Saenz — will serve prominent roles in the administration.

Ruiz, a former campaign aide to Harris, Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and Democratic Chairman Tom Perez, was named the director of political strategy and outreach, Biden announced.

Biden announced Saenz as the deputy director of the office of public engagement. Saenz was an advisor for Latino paid media and mail during the campaign and previously served as special assistant to the president, deputy director and senior advisor in the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs in the Obama administration.

In the announcement, Biden and Harris said the offices “will play key roles” with connecting the administration, governments and organizations to the public.

“In addition to working with organizations and communities, these accomplished public servants sit at the forefront of collaboration across the administration,” Biden said. “They will lead initiatives ranging from developing policies and processes to ensuring our cyber security needs are met with a whole of government response.”

Ruiz, who was born in Harlingen but lives in Austin, is the co-founder and partner of a political firm called NEWCO Strategies. She is credited with mobilizing the vote of minority communities in the 2018 and 2020 elections. She graduated from UTSA in 2006.

Following the announcement, Ruiz tweeted that Clinton called her to give encouragement on her new role.

“To say that I was/am scared to take on this new role is an understatement, but what happened next? @HillaryClinton called me. Told me I could do it, that I could do anything,” Ruiz tweeted. “And more importantly, she’d be there with me, to support me every step of the way.”

Clinton tweeted that Ruiz “epitomizes the next generation of progressive leaders.”

Saenz, who graduated from UTSA in 1997, said he’s “honored” and “humbled” to serve the team.

Also on Tuesday, Cristóbal J. Alex from El Paso was announced as the deputy cabinet secretary.

This week’s announcement came after the administration on Dec. 30 named three other Texans to serve on the cabinet.

San Antonio-native Christopher Garcia will serve as the senior legislative affairs advisor under the Office of Legislative Affairs.

Garcia, who graduated from UTSA in 2013, is a special assistant for the Nominations Team and has worked “exclusively in the U.S. Congress,” according to the announcement.

Corina Cortez, who graduated from the University of the Incarnate Word, will be a special assistant to the president for presidential personnel. She previously served as the deputy chief of staff under the Clinton administration and later the chief of staff for the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Over more than two decades, Cortez has championed the causes of public education, health care, worker rights, and the environment using ballot, public education, and legislative campaigns to advance positive change,” the announcement states.

She will serve alongside Texas native Thomas Zimmerman, who will have the same role.

Congress on Wednesday convened for a joint session to confirm the Electoral College vote won by Biden despite President Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the election.

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Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.