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By Tim Estiloz
As an Assistant Vice President in the Regional and Community Outreach (R&CO) group at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Ana Patricia Muñoz has a deep and profound passion for im-proving the living conditions for low to moderate-income families in New England communities
Muñoz and her team conduct applied research and work with community-based organizations and policy makers on ways to improve the lives of lower-income families. After joining the Bos-ton Fed in 2007 as a senior research assistant in the Research Department, she realized she had a great opportunity to pursue her passion to help others. Recently, the Ecuador native sat down with El Mundo Boston to tell us about her work.
What made you choose a career in the Federal Reserve?
“I’ve always been interested in working on issues that help improve the lives of low-income fami-lies. My initial interest was in international economic development. Surprisingly, when I moved to the U.S., I realized that the challenges that poor people face in the U.S. are sometimes similar to ones that developing countries face. The community development function at the Boston Fed allows me to combine my research skills with my desire to make a difference in the region and be surrounded by mission-driven professionals who push me to be better every day.”
How did living in Ecuador influence your career choice?
“To live in a developing country like Ecuador and to see poverty day in and day out, with a com-bination of very complicated political process opens your heart and mind. I was drawn to making my country a better one. I always had a main goal in mind of making the lives of low-income families better. Now, I’m able to do that at the Federal Reserve. There are many different ways to achieve that goal and I guess over time in life you try to find ones that work best for you.”
What is most satisfying about working at the Federal Reserve?
“This job has given me the opportunity to do what I love to do. I have a background in economics and public policy and a deep passion for public service. This job is my way of giving back and using my skills to that end, so being able to do that on a professional level is just a blessing.”
In 2015, you co-authored The Color of Wealth, an in-depth study on the racial financial inequality in Boston. Tell us more about that.
“The Color of Wealth in Boston study was part of a broader initiative (with the National Asset Scorecard for Communities of Color) that for the first time collected detailed data on assets and debts among subpopulations, according to race, ethnicity, and country of origin. The report, re-leased with Duke University and The New School, revealed the enormous wealth gap that exists between white families and families of color in Greater Boston.”
“This was the first time this kind of data had been collected, and it is an important step to help shape the responses of policymakers, practitioners, and foundations to the enormous challenges communities of color experience across the country. The report showed how fragile the eco-nomic situation of families of color is and how large the disparities are. In the coming decades, a significant rise in non-white populations is projected nationwide. So, the financial well-being of communities of color is central to ensuring inclusive long-term growth and prosperity. This pro-ject confirmed that policy solutions to address the racial wealth gap are complex and need to use a multifaceted approach that includes input from practitioners who are familiar with the unique needs and challenges different communities of color face.”
What has helped you become a successful professional?
“I think what has helped me is that I have only taken on projects that I am truly passionate about, the ones that I believe are going to matter over the long-term. When you do that, you do not mind putting in the extra hours, and working becomes a joy.”
Prior to joining the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Muñoz spent two years working as an eco-nomic advisor for a congressman in the National Parliament of Ecuador. She holds a Master of Public Affairs degree from Brown University and a Master’s degree in Economics from the Uni-versité de Montréal.
She is the first author of The Color of Wealth in Boston report and has made more than 20 presentations at local and regional conferences showcasing the importance of reducing racial inequities.