Deputy Assistant Secretary Chang Celebrates Women’s History Month with Focus on New Opportunities
March is recognized as Women’s History Month, both in the U.S. and abroad. It is a time to honor the generations of women and girls who came before us, overcame hardships, and strived for equity, equality and economic prosperity in communities across the country.
Michele Chang, EDA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, believes it is important for all women to have a voice, noting that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, women make up fifty percent of the U.S. population, but only 27% are board members of Fortune 500 companies and 26% are U.S. Senators according to Pew Research. She feels strongly that in order to build back better women will play a vital role so that we can plan and execute projects that will build resilient economies to serve all Americans for generations to come.
“It is so important to have women at the table, because when we talk about economic development, we’re talking about communities, which are fifty percent female. We need that perspective in order to have a cohesive, inclusive community.”
Communities across the country are benefiting from Ms. Chang’s deep experience in this area. She has made empowering women and underserved communities her mission for the last 20 years. Her vast experience covers the private, public, and nonprofit sectors, where she has strived to bring economic opportunities to the people who need it the most.
Before joining EDA, Ms. Chang served as Executive Director of the Rework America Business Network at the Markle Foundation. In that position, she worked with Fortune 500 companies to help American workers without four-year degrees, particularly those from underserved communities, get the skills they need to access quality jobs.
She also served in the Obama Administration as Acting Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), where she led initiatives to help small businesses, including women-owned small businesses, open their doors for business and provide opportunities for them to grow.
While at EDA, Ms. Chang plans to leave a similar legacy. She is currently overseeing implementation of the $3 billion American Rescue Plan programs, including the Good Jobs Challenge, which is designed to help Americans get back to work by investing in regional workforce systems with strong employer partnerships that will lead to good-paying jobs.
“The Good Jobs Challenge was created to help Americans secure quality jobs following the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m hopeful the program will help women, who we know were specifically hard hit by COVID-19 get the skills they need to land good jobs.”
Ms. Chang also points to EDA’s focus on equity and its Build Back Better Regional Challenge, as an opportunity for women and underserved populations to advance. This program will award $1 billion to support bottom-up economic development, enhance U.S. competitiveness, and shape the future of regions all across the country.
“The Build Back Better Regional coalitions that we are funding at EDA will help create new opportunities for women in the workforce and for women entrepreneurs. It will provide the infrastructure and the environment in their regional communities to build businesses that will thrive and succeed in the long term. I am excited for all the participants and look forward to their success.”
On a personal note, as a mother of two young daughters, Ms. Chang often thinks about their future and wants to continue to pave the way to help future generations live up to their full potential.
“We’re just so grateful for all the women who came before us and fought for our right to vote, to be able to hold office, and to have a seat at the table. Women’s History Month is a time to be grateful for all the great women who came before us and paved the way for the opportunities we enjoy today.”