Congresswoman Waters Speaks at Inaugural Conference

Long Beach – Earlier this week, Congresswoman Maxine Waters provided the keynote address at the NAWRB Inaugural Conference regarding Dodd-Frank Section 342 and the role of the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI).

The National Association of Women in Real Estate Businesses (NAWRB) advocates and promotes women and women-owned businesses specializing in the housing economy. By utilizing its presence in Washington, D.C. and consultations with OMWI, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and other organizations, NAWRB acts as a resource base between members and government contracting,  new business opportunities, and business training.

The basis of the NAWRB Inaugural Conference was to establish awareness, opportunities, and access for women and women-owned businesses specializing in the housing economy. Following Congresswoman Waters’ keynote address, an OMWI panel featuring Stuart Ishimaru, Director of CFPB and Melodee Brooks, Senior Deputy Director of the FDIC were on hand to address the attendees on the mission and their roles, and discuss opportunities through their agencies for women and Women-Owned Businesses (WOB) in the housing economy.

The Congresswoman’s presence was especially appreciated for her work expanding opportunities for minorities and women through Dodd-Frank Section 342.

Section 342 established an OMWI for each financial regulatory agency that must include a director to implement standards such as equal employment opportunity with racial, ethnic, and gender diversity; an assessment of diversity policies and practices; and increased participation in programs and contracts by women-owned and minority-owned businesses. Section 342 also promotes “inclusion in all levels of business activities,” according to the legislation.

The keynote address was conducted in a living room-style environment as NAWRB CEO Desirée Patno proposed interview questions regarding Congresswoman Waters’ first-hand perspective on the progress of Section 342, and what can be done to provide greater awareness and implementation of the OMWIs across the federal agencies.

Congresswoman Waters’ outlined her vision behind authoring the section which included opening up opportunities in the private sector and government procurement opportunities, and ensuring women and minorities were getting real opportunities that an ‘old boy network’ may have previously suppressed. Congresswoman Waters stated, “This is the first OMWI awareness event outside of D.C.” and how important the value of events such as this conference are.

Although the OMWIs are not as well-known due to the young age of Dodd-Frank, continued outreach programs and awareness are essential to realize the impact of the legislation. There is still a long road until the duties in Section 342 are operating to the best of their abilities, but with strong advocates such as Congresswoman Waters, minorities and women are one step closer to receiving the opportunities and representation they deserve.



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