“I always loved politics. My Nicaraguan parents were politically aware and would talk about increasing the minimum wage, making public schools better, and the impact of healthcare. They valued my opinion,” she says. “My favorite politicians like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were lawyers, so I thought that was what it took to be in politics.”
Her immigrant parents reiterated that she could do anything she wanted to do—as long as she pursued higher education. When she was eighteen years old, a $5,000 scholarship from the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) gave her a major boost by lowering her undergraduate tuition costs.
After graduating, she went on to work on President Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign on the vetting team. When Biden was elected president, Alvarado stayed on as a senior vetting analyst for the 59th Presidential Inaugural Committee. “When I joined the Biden campaign, I didn’t know that if we won the election I could work in the administration. That information is passed down in hallways of legacy,” she explains.
Alvarado was appointed by President Biden to serve as director of strategic communications for the office of the assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs.
“I thought they made a mistake. I was grappling with my insecurities of, ‘Can I do this?’ And people around me were also wondering, ‘Can she do this?’” Alvarado recalls. “I had to remember I was chosen by the Biden administration to be in this position for a reason.”
She served for nearly two years, leading a team of government civilians, analysts, and defense contractors who prepare the secretary and deputy secretary of defense for congressional engagements.
“I was representing the Hispanic community in the highest levels of government. I knew I had to excel to represent,” she says. “No one looked like me in any room I walked into. Not one person. If there was a Latina, which was rare, she’d be a military official late in her career. If it was just another woman, it was a white woman. There were no other young people.”
As a liaison between the Department of Defense and Congress, Alvarado’s responsibilities included preparing department nominees for Senate hearings and writing last-minute memos on political atmospherics for the secretary of defense. But her proudest achievement at the Pentagon was the internship program she created to bring more women and people of color into the defense world.
“At the Pentagon, all the interns’ parents had a connection to the office—the son of a senator or the daughter of an assistant secretary. There was a clear barrier for people like me,” she says.
She recognized the gatekeeping and unraveled it. “It’s one thing to be in the position of power and take all the glory. It’s another thing to say let me bring others up with me. I thought, ‘If I’m here, I’m going to open the door for everyone else,’” Alvarado says. “I shepherded in about twenty-five interns, and some are currently political appointees in the administration. It fills my soul, seeing people coming into their careers.”
She received the prestigious Secretary of Defense Award for Outstanding Achievement.
“Having a plaque from the Secretary of Defense and seeing my name engraved right underneath director of strategic communications is something no one can ever take away—the title that I had or how much of an honor it was that I never thought I’d have, especially at this age,” she says.
After leaving the Pentagon, Alvarado took her expertise to Bryson Gillette, a minority-owned political consulting, strategic communications, and public affairs firm founded in 2020 by President Obama’s Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton.
“I’m proud of the advocacy campaigns I work on. I do communication strategies for big campaigns such as making the internet safer for kids, preventing harm to the environment, or uplifting a Latina CEOs’ profile in the media. I’m lucky to be in a position where I can choose to work on positive things that are helping the world,” the director of public affairs says.
Even today, Alvarado hasn’t forgotten how she got her start. She sits on the HSF Advisory Council for young Latinx students who receive HSF scholarships. “It’s important for me to give back to an organization that changed my life. I always tell young Latinos to be proud of everything they’ve achieved and not be afraid to shout it from the rooftops because that’s how you inspire others and how companies or scholarships notice you. Take risks, especially when you’re young because you can unlock doors that you didn’t even know were there,” she says.
Looking to the future, Alvarado says she wants to run for office. “I know I could run for Congress and represent New Yorkers, people of color, and women. I’m driven by making the world better. That’s why I worked for President Biden and now work on advocacy campaigns that are helping our world.”