Elizabeth de León Bhargava: A leader for HUD
1995 graduate is assistant secretary for administration
Elizabeth de León Bhargava ’95 is the daughter of Dominican immigrants, a lifelong public servant and a Binghamton University graduate with a legacy of helping others that continues today. She grew up in a close-knit home run by her mother, who taught her and her sisters the value of hard work and service.
Last year, de León Bhargava was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as assistant secretary for administration at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In this role, she leads the department’s disaster management and national security preparations and operations. She is also responsible for managing the 7,500-person agency’s human resources and, as HUD’s chief acquisition officer, is responsible for about $8 billion in government contracts and 3.5 million square feet of space spanning 58 locations across the country. She also serves on the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics.
“We give a lot of thought to policies and procedures but at the end of the day, it’s about the individual and the place they call home.”
Redefining HUD’s operations for a post-pandemic world is a primary focus for de Leon Bhargava’s team.
“We are thinking about what the future of work looks like,” she says. “How do we get the best of the best to work for HUD? And what do they need to perform their jobs and deliver services? Working on the federal level, we have to serve a diverse pool of people.”
On Binghamton’s campus, she is still making a far-reaching impact. As a first-year student, she co-founded Juvenile Urban Multicultural Program, also known as J.U.M.P. Nation, which provides at-risk youth with a support network and tools to help them overcome socioeconomic barriers that might prevent them from going to college.
“I grew up in Washington Heights [Manhattan] and it was a difficult area. When you don’t have people in your family who went to college, you have no idea what that looks like. So, the idea is to expose kids to college. There are kids who have gone through the J.U.M.P. Nation program who are now at Binghamton and serving on the J.U.M.P. Nation board.”