Meeting of October 23, 2008 – Issues Facing Hispanics in the Federal Workplace
Ramón Surís Fernández was sworn in on April 28, 2008 as the Director for the Civil Rights Center, Department of Labor. He is responsible for administering the Department of Labor's Internal (Title VII) Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) programs and ensuring Equal Opportunity (EO) in the Department's financially assisted and conducted (Title VI) programs.
Prior to joining the Department of Labor team, Mr. Surís Fernández was a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES) serving as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Equal Employment and Civil Rights at the Department of the Army. In this leadership position he was responsible for policy, guidance, direction and oversight of all plans and programs affecting equal employment opportunity for approximately 254,000 Army civilian employees. In addition to directing EEO, he had responsibility for addressing accessibility issues that affect the Army workplace and public use of Army facilities.
Mr. Surís-Fernández’s leadership in civil rights includes serving as the Director of Diversity, EO Strategic Planning and Programs at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). As a member of NASA's cadre of Senior Executive Service leaders, Mr. Surís-Fernández was responsible for managing, directing, and coordinating agency-wide all matters pertaining to diversity strategic planning and implementation, technical assistance and voluntary compliance regarding NASA's assisted and conducted programs, as well as equal opportunity programs advocacy and training.
Before joining NASA, Mr. Surís-Fernández served as Director for the Office of Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights (OEOCR), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). At the OEOCR, he served as the principal advisor to the CMS Administrator on all EEO and civil rights matters. As such, he was completely responsible for agency-wide implementation of those programs.
Mr. Surís-Fernández was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He received his BA degree with a double major in economics and management, and his Juris Doctor degree from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. He completed postgraduate legal studies at Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C., where he received a Masters in Labor Law (LLM).
Upon receiving his LLM, Mr. Surís-Fernández served at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) as an attorney specializing in EEO, Personnel, Employment and Labor Relations. In addition to his legal counseling responsibilities, Mr. Surís-Fernández represented the agency before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Merit Systems Protection Board and the Federal Labor Relations Authority, as well as in numerous arbitration hearings stemming from the collective bargaining agreement with the employees' union. Also, he assisted the Department of Justice attorneys handling NRC EEO cases in Federal court.
Mr. Surís-Fernández is an enthusiastic cyclist and frequently takes his four kids on long bike rides, favoring the Mount Vernon trail along the Potomac river in Virginia.