Robert Santos

Biden taps Robert Santos to be first person of color to lead Census Bureau

In a historic move, President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced his intent to nominate Robert Santos for Director of the Census Bureau at the Department of Commerce. If confirmed, Santos, who is Mexican-American, would be the first person of color to serve as the Senate confirmed Director of the Census Bureau.

Santos, who was born and raised in San Antonio and lives in Austin, is currently the vice president and chief methodologist at the Urban Institute, a think tank in Washington.He is an expert in survey sampling, survey design and more generally in social science/policy research, with over 40 years of experience.

His career includes: Director of Survey Operations, Survey Research Center, University of Michigan; VP Statistics and Methodology, NORC University of Chicago; and Senior Study Director at ISR Temple University.  Santos is the 116th President of the American Statistical Association (ASA), serving in 2021. He is an elected ASA Fellow and a recipient of the ASA Founder’s Award, the association’s highest recognition for distinguished service and leadership. He is past President of the American Association for Public Opinion Research and an elected member of the International Statistical Institute. Santos has served on numerous National Academies’ panels, the Census Advisory Committee for Professional Organizations (2001-2006), and the CDC National Center for Health Statistics’ Board of Scientific Counselors (2017-2020). He is a long time member of Feeding America’s Technical Advisory Group (2004-2021).

Earlier this year, President Biden ordered undocumented immigrants to be included in the 2020 census.

“If confirmed, I will support the Bureau and its staff in its mission to provide quality population and economic data to the nation,” Santos told NPR. “The principles of transparency, scientific independence, and integrity will be key in allowing the Census Bureau to thrive and innovate over the coming decade.”


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