Alejandra Y. Castillo is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of YWCA USA. She has dedicated her life to public service, through her years in the federal government and as an active member in various civic and professional organizations. She believes in the power of partnership and her lifelong career focus is on impacting change and providing opportunities for communities through public-private partnerships, entrepreneurship and social impact investment. With over two decades of professional experience in Washington, D.C., Alejandra has served in two presidential administrations, worked in the U.S. Congress, and worked as a lawyer in various settings. Throughout her public service, Alejandra has been instrumental in the design, execution, monitoring and enforcement of key federal legislative and public policy initiatives focused on civil rights, economic development, children and family law, and health policy.
In 2014, Alejandra was appointed to serve as the national director of the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), becoming the first Hispanic-American woman to lead the agency. Under Alejandra’s leadership, the agency enhanced the growth and global competitiveness of minority business enterprises (MBEs), securing financing and capital in excess of $19 billion and creating or retaining over 33,000 jobs.
In early 2016, Alejandra launched MBDA’s Inclusive Innovation Initiative (I3) in collaboration with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Federal Lab Consortium. I3 is a bold program designed to promote technology transfer and lab-to-market commercialization of government research and development supporting STEM education, workforce development and entrepreneurship, and to forge important strategic stakeholder relations and key public-private partnerships in the technology and innovation arena.
Prior to joining the Obama administration, Alejandra served as the executive director of the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) headquartered in Washington, D. C., advocating for diversity in the legal profession and civil right protections for underserved communities. During her tenure, she was instrumental in working with the White House and non-profit organizations, such as the Latinos for a Fair Judiciary, in support of the nomination and confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
During the Clinton administration, Alejandra served as a senior policy advisor at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, where she was responsible for developing key initiatives on drug prevention and treatment programs as well as anti-drug trafficking, interdiction and anti-money laundering policies.
Alejandra considers herself an example of the American dream. Her parents both immigrated separately to the United States from the Dominican Republic, where they had lived under the oppressive Trujillo dictatorship. They settled in New York City, where her mother found work as a seamstress in the New York garment industry and her father as a janitor. The two met in New York, married and had three children, and later opened a grocery store in the Bronx. In her teens, her parents had a romantic notion to return to their native home in the Dominican Republic. However, once there, they discovered that they had become Americans and quickly realized that the U.S. was their true home. Her family is now third-generation Americans and second-generation college graduates. Thanks to her multi-cultural upbringing, she is fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese.
Alejandra holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in economics and political science; a Master of Arts degree in public policy from the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin; and a Juris Doctorate from American University, Washington College of Law. Alejandra is an active member in various civic and professional organizations, including: the Hispanic National Bar Association, the Hispanic Bar Association of D.C., the American Bar Association, and the American Jewish Committee. Between 2009-2014, she served as a board trustee for the University of the District of Columbia, and currently serves on the board of the U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce, the Aspen Institute Latino and Society Program, Project 500 Advisors of D.C., as well as the American Jewish Committee’s Jewish-Latino Council. Alejandra is a well-recognized political leader, writer and commentator. She has worked on five presidential campaigns, and has received numerous awards and recognitions, among them the 2016 National Urban League “Woman of Power” Award, Hispanic Business Magazine “Top 100 Influential Latinos in the U.S.” and the Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia “Rising Star” award.
She is proud to have raised two amazing nieces she calls her daughters. A long-standing and committed resident of the District of Columbia, Alejandra is a supporter of the arts and an avid international traveler.