The rest of the party, held at former White House staffer Melody Barnes’s and lobbyist Marland Buckner’s Dupont Circle mansion, was slightly more adult.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro was among the first VIPs to arrive, entering from a side elevator with a man with an earpiece in tow. Castro (who was incredibly gracious after this reporter accidentally referred to him as Joaquín, his twin brother), said that he is supportive of Voto Latino’s mission.
“The last census showed that of folks under the age of 18, 23 percent are Latino, meaning that in the years to come, the destiny of America is intertwined with the destiny of the Latino community,” Castro said.
Other political celebrities such as MPAA chief Chris Dodd, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Treasurer Rosa Rios, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, and former secretary of health and human services Kathleen Sebelius all mingled their way through the crowded room.
Wilmer Valderrama, perhaps best known as the character Fez on the popular “That ’70s Show,” greeted several party attendees with a hug the moment he walked through the front entrance. Clad in a baseball cap and brown leather jacket, Valderrama, Voto Latino’s artist coalition co-chair, said he and Dawson, a co-founder and chairwoman, have a “shorthand” with each other after working together for the past decade.
“It’s just a real family,” Dawson said. “I met Wilmer at the first ever ALMA Awards — my mom was sitting between the two of us — and she was just like [saucily] ‘heeey.’ And who knew that 16 years later we’d be here, doing this work together.”
Sporting a gold nameplate necklace that read “Voto Latino,” Dawson herself was clearly the life of the party. Attending with her mother (who arguably looks more like her slightly older sister), Dawson shook hands and embraced partygoers as she made her way across the room — and held nearly every child she came in contact with.
“I love that we’re celebrating our 10-year anniversary in our 11th year because we’ve been so busy,” Dawson said, before stressing the importance of recognizing what the organization has done.
“We’re not sitting here right now patting ourselves on the back, we’re just taking a breather before we launch back in,” she said, referring to the 2016 election.
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