Following the departure of Melody Barnes, who stepped down last month as director of the White House Domestic Policy Council to spend more time with her family, on Tuesday the White House announced that another woman of color will take the helm: Cecilia Munoz.

Munoz has served as deputy assistant to President Obama and director of intergovernmental affairs, serving as a liaison between state and local governments, since Day 1 of the administration. According to the White House, her work has ensured that local elected officials, and their constituents, have been at the table to help develop a range of domestic-policy initiatives. In her new role, she will work with federal agencies to shape more proposals on many of those same issues — including education, employment, health care and housing — for the president to consider.

Formerly the senior vice president for the National Council of La Raza, where she supervised policy development on various issues critical to Latinos, and a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship for her work on immigration, Munoz has also led to the Obama administration's efforts to advance immigration reform. However, her role in the administration — which has deported a record number of undocumented immigrants, more than 1.2 million in less than three years — has also come under fire from her former immigration and civil rights allies. Last fall, the Latino advocacy group launched a petition calling on her to "come home to her community" and renounce Obama's immigration policies.


Her appointment, perhaps, signals that efforts to overhaul the immigration system will be stepped up by the White House.

"Over the past three years, Cecilia has been a trusted adviser who has demonstrated sound judgment day in and day out," President Obama said in a statement about his new appointee. "Cecilia has done an extraordinary job working on behalf of middle-class families, and I'm confident she'll bring the same unwavering dedication to her new position."

Cynthia Gordy is The Root's Washington reporter.