LGBT History Month October 9: Carlos Elizondo, White House Social Secretary

Photo Credit ©  GETTY IMAGES

“In both my professional and personal life, it has always been important to me to represent our community in a positive manner.”

Carlos Elizondo is the Biden administration’s White House social secretary. He is the first Hispanic American, the second man and the second openly LGBT person to hold the position.

Elizondo was born in Harlingen, Texas. He graduated in 1985 from Pontifical College Josephinum, a private Roman Catholic college and school of theology in Columbus, Ohio. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Latin American studies.

In 1988 Elizondo entered the political scene as a fellow in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), which provides development opportunities for emerging Latinx civic leaders. Through the fellowship, he worked in the Mexican Government Tourism Office at the Embassy of Mexico in Washington, D.C. He credits CHCI with providing him “a solid foundation for [his] future career path.”

Subsequently, Elizondo joined the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest Latinx nonprofit advocacy organization in the United States. He also worked in a variety of events-related positions at trade associations in the D.C. area, before he was appointed to a position in the Clinton administration in 1992.

Carlos Elizondo, White House Social Secretary Photo Credit © GETTY IMAGES

During President Clinton’s two terms, Elizondo served in the White House and in the Office of the U.S. Chief of Protocol. As a protocol officer, he coordinated and managed the NATO 50th Anniversary Summit, the Centennial Olympic Games, Papal visits, and other high-profile events involving national and international White House guests.

From 2000 to 2001, he managed special activities and protocol at Walt Disney World. When he returned to Washington, he worked for six years as the senior director of presidential events at Georgetown University. During the Obama administration, Elizondo served as special assistant to the president and social secretary to then-Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill.

In 2020 the Biden White House named Elizondo social secretary. He was the first LGBTQ person appointed to President Biden’s staff and is only the second man to hold the position. He came to the role with more experience than anyone before him. His responsibilities include impeccably hosting and entertaining the world’s most powerful people.

Outside of his professional duties, Elizondo maintains a very private life. He lives with his husband in Washington, D.C. He has volunteered with several Washington community organizations and has mentored Latinx youth, many of whom were from his native area of Texas.

In 1994, Rodney Wilson, a Missouri high school teacher, believed a month should be dedicated to the celebration and teaching of gay and lesbian history, and gathered other teachers and community leaders. They selected October because public schools are in session and existing traditions, such as Coming Out Day (October 11), occur that month.

Gay and Lesbian History Month was endorsed by GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Education Association and other national organizations. In 2006 Equality Forum assumed responsibility for providing content, promotion and resources for LGBT History Month.