Natalie Montelongo grew up living between two worlds going from Mexico to Texas and back and now she’s made her way to the White House. Born in Harlingen and raised in Matamoros, Montelongo would cross the border every morning to go to school in Brownsville as a child. She went on to study politics at St. Mary’s University in Texas graduated with a degree in political science and since then earned a master’s in International Relations and Diplomacy and a master’s in Strategic Negotiation in Paris. Now the 34-year-old is the deputy director for political strategy and outreach at the White House under President Joe Biden’s administration.
“From a young age I remember having to cross back and forth from Matamoros to Brownsville to go school, that’s how I started going to school in the U.S.” she told The Brownsville Herald. “I have a lot of respect for the community. I think it’s a community that’s very resilient, it’s a community that, like myself, had to learn two languages from a very young age. There’s people like me, who grew up being bilingual, but then, there’s also people like my mom who came to the U.S. when she was in high school, started learning English when she was in high school and I feel like it’s very easy to take that for granted.”
She got into politics volunteering for a congressional campaign in Brownsville, Texas, and later worked for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, in the Obama administration, in Julian Castro’s presidential campaign, and now with the Biden administration. She worked as a national campaign strategist for immigrant rights for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) where she organized the “Keeping Families Together” rally with immigrant advocacy groups in front of the federal courthouse in Brownsville.
“I ended up volunteering in a congressional campaign in Brownsville. And I was ‘My God, this is where it is at. This is how you empower people by teaching them their rights,” she told The Brownsville Herald. Now she’s joining Emmy Ruiz, a fellow Latina Texan who is now the director of political strategy and outreach after assuming the role in January.
Natalie was at the heart of so many of the issues we fought for on our campaign and at People First Future.
She’s a talented, thoughtful leader who will be a tremendous asset to the Biden-Harris administration.
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) April 20, 2021
“It feels like an honor to be working for the administration who elected the first woman vice president and how this administration also appointed the most women before the 100-day mark. It has the most diverse cabinet and it has two women from the Rio Grande Valley working for one of the most important offices. I feel honored, and I think it speaks to what the vision of this president is. It’s a vision of being inclusive and making sure that everyone has a seat at the table,” she told The Brownsville Herald.