Lorena McElwain to Run Federal English Language Office

Head shot of Lorena McElwain

Lorena Orozco McElwain has been appointed Assistant Deputy Secretary, Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA), U.S. Department of Education by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Prior to joining the federal government, McElwain was as an ESL/Spanish/Italian instructor, translator, interpreter, and assessed language proficiency using the State Department’s language proficiency scale. She was also a bilingual educator in New Mexico prior to becoming  a bilingual teaching assistant at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) where she attended graduate school and received UTEP’s 2000 Graduate Thesis of the Year Award for contributions to the field of political science in the area of children’s political socialization. She is a first-generation college graduate who speaks five languages, holding an M.A. and B.A. in political science with a minor in linguistics.

McElwain joined the federal government as a statistician in 1999, where she led original research identifying translation as a source of survey error and interpretation as a source of interviewer variance. Her innovative research led to the establishment of pre-testing guidelines for questionnaire translations to ensure the validity of data collected from individuals with limited English proficiency.

Appointed to the Senior Executive Service in 2010, her career executive appointments include Deputy Assistant Administrator for the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, Director of the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion, and Director of Business Management and Planning for the CFTC. Since 2018, McElwain has served as a political appointee, including Chief of Staff in the USDA’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights and Senior Policy Advisor in the USDA’s Research, Education and Economics mission area.

McElwain will share her vision for the OELA in the July edition of Language Magazine.