The daughter of Mexican immigrants and a native of Southern California, Ramirez served as a Latino outreach coordinator in California for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and goes back with the president to their days together on the Harvard Law Review. Her appointment has earned Obama credit for making Ramirez the first ethnic minority to head the Federal Trade Commission.
Ramirez’s top challenges at the agency are twofold: ensuring that the commission’s consumer-protection and competition efforts keep pace with fast-changing technologies such as mobile applications, and keeping the agency’s goals on track despite ever-tightening budget pressures. “Given the exponential growth of mobile in our daily lives, there is no room for complacency about the need to keep the mobile environment safe and secure,” Ramirez said in a June speech.
Ramirez, 45, became FTC chairwoman in March after serving as a commission member for nearly three years. She is still staffing up and mapping out her agenda. But she has vowed to make privacy enforcement a top priority at the agency. On her To Do list are consumer-privacy safeguards such as a do-not-track option to give Internet users more control over how their information is collected, and promoting competition that benefits consumers, particularly in the health care and technology markets.
She has helped lead efforts to improve privacy protections on cross-border data exchanges between the United States and members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.
Before joining the FTC, Ramirez worked as a lawyer specializing in appellate litigation. She represented clients on cases involving intellectual property, antitrust, and unfair competition as a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan in Los Angeles and as an associate at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Los Angeles.
Ramirez has served with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, as a vice president on its board of commissioners, and as a director of the Volunteers of America.
She began her career as a clerk for Judge Alfred T. Goodwin at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Ramirez graduated from Harvard Law School and was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history magna cum laude from Harvard University.