As the new chair of a Los Angeles County transportation board that oversees construction of the 300-mile Metro Rail system, Ernest Camacho wants to ensure that minority and women contractors get their fair share of jobs. He said there has been "a great deal of confusion and a lot of abuses dealing with the prime contractors and fronts," which are
companies that appear to be owned by minorities or women, but are not. "We need to better define a process that will if not totally eliminate, then certainly mitigate the use of fronts," he said. Camacho, 46, an East L.A. native, is president of Pacifica Services, a Pasadena-based engineering firm. "Metro Rail will change the way we live," he said. "When we look at who uses these modes of transportation, it is primarily minority communities."
Margarita Colmenares is beginning a new challenge as a prestigious White House Fellow and will work for a year in the White House or on a Cabinet member's staff. "I want to better understand the process of governance at the highest levels," she said, "and to bring that knowledge back to my community and my work." For the last year, as an executive on loan from Chevron U.S.A., Colmenares, 34, headed the L.A.-based Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. "We are entering a more technical society and need to understand environmental, housing and population issues and how to solve them," Colmenares said. So far, she has noted some success in showing Latinos--and Latinas--that they can pursue engineering careers.