History in the Making

Presidential campaign diversity manager is ILR alum
Friday, August 26, 2016

When Hillary Clinton announced she was running for president, Cristina Lara ’14 knew she wanted to be part of the campaign.

“I emailed a bunch of people on the campaign with my resume,” she said. “Nothing came of it at the time.”

But, in April, Lara was offered the diversity manager position by the Hillary for America campaign.

The unexpected offer was an opportunity to work in human resources in politics – a major departure from the tech scene where she had worked since graduation.

Lara left her job as global intern program manager at Cisco in Raleigh, N.C., to Clinton campaign headquarters, two open floors of a Brooklyn office building. A couple of hammocks offer respite for staff working into the night.

“It’s non-stop work,” Lara said, laughing. “Our office feels like a second home. I have a little fridge by my desk. I eat all my meals here, for better or for worse.”

Lara, who graduated from ILR with minors in Education and Latino Studies, is responsible for designing and managing diversity programs for the 700-member campaign workforce.

“We’re on a mission to ensure that our organizational makeup reflects the communities we’re fighting for. That’s very important to our campaign.”

“It’s not only a moral imperative to focus on diversity, but it’s a strategic business imperative, too. Research tells us, time and time again, that diversity and inclusion breeds innovation and helps teams make better decisions.”

She credits ILR faculty member Lee Adler, senior extension associate specializing in labor and unions, for mentoring her. “Professor Adler and I have had long and fruitful conversations about my career goals, particularly about how I can use my life to be of service to others.”

As she spearheads the campaign’s 50-state diversity and inclusion operation, Lara said she is looking for ways to give back to her alma mater.

Lara, who arranged for Breanna Ross ’17 and Katie Lim ’17 to join the campaign’s internship program, invites Cornellians to visit her at campaign headquarters.

“See this live,” she said. “See history in the making.”