BARRIO – The first time Luisana Pérez Fernández stepped foot in the White House was also her first day on the job as President Joe Biden’s director of Hispanic media.
“I didn’t know where to go,” Pérez laughed. “I remember being very lost in the [Eisenhower Executive Office Building], calling my boss and being like, ’I don’t know where I am.’”
Pérez’s supervisor, White House Senior Director of Coalitions Media Jennifer Molina, found Pérez and gave her the tour. “It was crazy because [Jennifer] was talking about the space and the layout of the White House so casually, like ‘Here’s the Rose Garden … and if you look over there, that’s the Oval Office.’ And I was like every single step I took was in a historic place,” Pérez recalled.
Pérez, an immigrant from Venezuela, came to Miami in 2011 after being born, raised, and educated in Caracas.
After a series of jobs that included working as a nanny, selling mixed martial arts equipment at the Dolphin Mall, and volunteering for the Florida Immigrant Coalition, Pérez got her start in politics working as district secretary for State Rep. José Javier Rodríguez in Miami before joining the press shop at the Democratic Party of Florida.
Pérez moved up quickly at the Florida Democratic Party, being promoted after her first year to deputy communications director.
“Then I started working for the campaign of President Biden in Florida,” Pérez recalled. “Once the campaign was over, I started working with [the Department of Health and Human Services] which was where I got called to come here to the White House.”
An important milestone for Pérez came during the 2020 presidential campaign when she became a U.S. citizen.
“It was just me and I was full of emotions,” Pérez said. “I think it was that moment when you say, ’Wow, I just left home to come here, now this is the new home … but also after working in Florida politics for years at that point and not being able to vote, casting a ballot for the first time became a big thing for me that year.”
Pérez notes that voting is not so easy in her native Venezuela. “We don’t have a democracy in Venezuela,” she explained, “so casting a ballot here in our democracy … it was a big moment.”
The job of Hispanic media director at the White House is a challenging one. Not only does Pérez have to do all the English-language work of her other colleagues on the coalitions media team, she then has to turn around and do it in Spanish as well.
Keep inspiring Luisana. Vamos!