Biden's staff and Oval Office continue the legacy of Cesar Chavez

A group of relatives of Cesar Chavez were invited to take photos with President Barack Obama when he flew to California to dedicate the national monument to Latino labor leader Cesar Chaz nearly 10 years ago.

Biden's staff and Oval Office continue the legacy of Cesar Chavez

Julie Chavez Rodriguez was Chavez's grand-daughter. She remained quiet. She was a staff member of Obama, and had been with the official party to this event. However, she didn't want to draw attention to her.

Only after Valerie Jarrett, Obama's senior advisor, insisted, did Rodriguez reluctantly accept the invitation and barely make it into the frame.

Jarrett was Rodriguez's boss at the White House Office of Public Engagement. "And she said, "No, I'm still staff today."

White House staffers often are of a certain type. They are hard-charging, ambitious strivers who want their own spotlight or trade on a well-known name. Rodriguez is an exception to the rule as she begins her second tour as director of intergovernmental relations for Joe Biden.

Rodriguez and her team assist state, local, and tribal governments as well as Puerto Rico and other U.S. territory with federal government needs. This has been mainly about fighting COVID-19, and disbursing aid from Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief program.

Jarrett, Rodriguez's former collaborator, and others have described Rodriguez as a dedicated worker, who, although shaped by a well-known progenitor of Rodriguez, doesn’t place her family first and foremost.

Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, recently named-checked "Julie Rodriguez", at a press conference -- dropping "Chavez", in line with Rodriguez's preference.

Cecilia Munoz was the Intergovernmental Affairs Office's leader for five years under Obama. She said Rodriguez is the right person to fill the position now because she "Julie" and not because she is a Chavez.

Munoz stated that Chavez is a part of her identity. "But she's there because it is so skillful and she has such deep integrity."

Because Biden wanted her to be on his team.

Rodriguez is one of a number of Latinas who serve in the White House, advising Biden on policy and communications matters. During the 2020 presidential campaign, Latino advocates accused Biden of not reaching out enough to these voters.


The Oval Office is always updated by new presidents to reflect their personal taste or convey broader messages about what motivates them.

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