Nathalie Rayes MPP ’99 has been named 2014 Alumna of the Year by the Department of Public Policy for her exemplary public service, philanthropy, and professional achievement.
Rayes currently serves as the U.S. National Public Relations Director for Grupo Salinas, a Mexican conglomerate with $6 billion in annual sales and 100,000 employees in Mexico, the United States, and Central and South America, and with operations in the broadcasting, retail, banking and financial services, and telecommunications industries. Rayes is also the Executive Director of Grupo Salinas’ philanthropic arm in the United States, Fundación Azteca America that seeks to improve the quality of life of Latinos by partnering with existing nonprofits to empower, create awareness and motivate change on social and civic issues.
Rayes is a true Bruin, earning her B.A. in sociology with honors. She commenced her public service career working as deputy to then-Los Angeles City Council Member Mike Feuer. With his enthusiastic and glowing recommendation, Rayes was admitted to the UCLA MPP program, where she distinguished herself early in her career. She interned at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo during the summer of 1998 and received an unsolicited outstanding letter of recommendation from the US Ambassador to Egypt. His letter noted her professionalism, resourcefulness and diligence, and was just a foreshadowing of the professional accolades Rayes would receive throughout her career.
Upon completing her Master of Public Policy Degree, Rayes returned to Feuer’s Office as his senior policy advisor. After the Mayoral election she was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff to Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn, a very influential position in the City, all the more remarkable for someone to attain before the age of 30.
After a distinguished career in public service, Rayes joined Grupo Salinas, where she continues to excel, evidenced by her many honors and accolades. In January 2014, she was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the Board of Trustees of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars. Rayes also serves on the Advisory Board of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and on the boards of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute, Los Angeles Universal Preschool and U.S.–Mexico Chamber of Commerce, and she was one of the founding members of the UCLA Luskin’s MPP Alumni Council.
Rayes’ 2014 MPP Alumna of Year Award is only the latest of many previous distinctions including the 2013 Santa Monica College Distinguished Alumna Recognition Award for Outstanding Professional and Community Service Achievement and the 2012 “Mujeres Destacadas Award,” a recognition given annually by the publication El Diario La Prensa to the most outstanding women in the Latino community. She is also a Fellow of the Asia 21 Young Leaders Initiative, the leading cross-sectional leadership development program in the Asia-Pacific region.
Although Rayes resides in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts with her husband, Dr. Tarek Samad, and their young sons, Julian and Alexander, she is eager to return to Los Angeles on Thursday, April 17, to accept her 2014 MPP Alumna of the Year award at the annual MPP Alumni Networking Reception.