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Ex Oakland official nominated as U.S. Treasurer

President Barack Obama today nominated Rosa “Rosie” Gumataotao Rios, a former economic development official for Oakland, Fremont, San Leandro and Union City, to serve as U.S. Treasurer.

The Treasurer advises the Secretary of the Treasury on matters relating to coinage, currency and the production of other instruments by the federal government. The Treasurer’s signature, as well as the Treasury Secretary’s, must appear on paper money before it can become legal tender.

The Treasurer also serves as one of the Treasury Department’s principal advisors and spokespeople in the area of financial literacy and education. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Rios will be the third consecutive California Latina to hold the post, following Rosario Marin and Anna Escobedo Cabral.

Rios most recently has been Managing Director of Investments for MacFarlane Partners, a real estate investment management firm with more than $11 billion in assets under management. After working to mobilize the Latino vote in Virginia during last year’s presidential campaign, Rios took a leave of absence from MacFarlane Partners to serve as a member of the incoming Obama Administration’s Treasury/Federal Reserve Transition Team.

Before joining MacFarlane Partners, she was a principal with Red River Associates, a consulting firm specializing in providing development, project management and executive management services for municipalities.

And before that, Rios from 2001 through 2003 was Oakland’s Economic Development & Redevelopment director, managing a staff of nearly 100 tasked with facilitating business opportunities in the city and revitalizing its downtown and neighborhood corridors. She’d been hired by then City Manager Robert Bobb, and was fired by Mayor Jerry Brown after Bobb’s ouster.

Rios also has served as Director of Economic Development for Fremont; Development Specialist for San Leandro; manager of the Union City’s Redevelopment Agency. She still serves as a trustee of the Alameda County Employees’ Retirement Association and is a board member of the California Association of Local Economic Development and of Oakland’s Unity Council. Rios holds a Bachelor’s degree in sociology and romance languages and literature from Harvard University.

UPDATE @ 2:18 P.M.: “I’m so very pleased that my constituent Rosie Gumataotao Rios, who I enthusiastically supported, has been chosen to serve as our new U.S. Treasurer,” says Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, adding Rios “brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to this position. …She will be a wonderful addition to the Department of Treasury.”

President Obama also Friday nominated Daniel M. Tangherlini as Assistant Treasury Secretary for Management and Chief Financial Officer; Tangherlini will also serve as the Chief Performance Officer of the Treasury.

“I am grateful to have these two distinguished individuals joining my administration at this critical time for our nation,” Obama said in a news release. “Under the leadership of Secretary Geithner, I am confident that they will serve the American people well as we work to right our economy and put our nation on a path to prosperity.”

UPDATE @ 3:13 P.M.: Former Oakland City Manager Robert Bobb said Friday he served as one of Rios’ references and they “had several conversations as she was going through the vetting process.”

“I’m really happy for Rosie, this is phenomenal … a well-deserved appointment,” he said, adding that in her Oakland post she “stood her ground in the midst of some pretty controversial issues, but nobody could question her work ethic or her ethics.”

Unity Council CEO Gilda Gonzales said Friday she’s “ecstatic” about Rios’ nomination: “The president made an excellent choice, and I believe she will serve the president and the country in an honorable manner.”

Rios is finely attuned to “the challenges all of us face, from unemployment to foreclosure,” Gonzales said, carrying work experience that ties her to Wall Street as well as life experience that ties her to Main Street. “She’s one of us, that’s what’s very great about it.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.