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Lillian Salerno
Administrator for Rural Business-Cooperative Service
Photo of Lillian Salerno

Lillian Salerno was appointed by President Obama as Administrator for Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS) where she oversees an $11 billion dollar portfolio and a multitude of programs that spur economic development and job opportunities throughout rural America. Salerno understands the unique challenges facing rural business and RBS as an agency. She is working hard to build lender relationships, leverage capital, and improve capacity building within rural communities. She is cultivating RBS internally by improving organizational performance; applying process improvements; and creating risk-based portfolio management.

As Administrator, her focus has been on strengthening economic development capacity in rural communities including initiatives for job creation, increased access to capital, regional collaboration, and energy efficiency. Salerno further promotes the Secretarial priorities for strengthening the bioeconomy and supporting local and regional foods. During her tenure at USDA, Salerno has participated on The White House Business Council and played a critical role in support of several Administration initiatives including: Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP), Made in Rural America, Rural Opportunity Investment Initiative, Advanced Manufacturing, and Small Business Credit Initiatives.

Salerno successfully founded an advanced manufacturing company which started with a Small Business Innovation Grant making her a fierce advocate for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Salerno has an extensive work history in the private sector, both in the U.S. and abroad. As the Executive Director for the Safe Healthcare International Institute, she encouraged policy makers, federal agencies, and the Executive Branch to formulate solutions for the protection of healthcare workers and delivery systems while building coalitions to promote long-term HIV/AIDS prevention internationally. A rural business champion, Salerno continues to use her business expertise and political platform to engage stakeholders, advocate for underrepresented groups, and improve regional collaboration.

Salerno grew up in rural Texas, where her manufacturing business continues to thrive and support the local economy. Administrator Salerno attained a B.A. in Latin American Studies at the University of Texas, a Master's Degree in Sociology from the University of North Texas, and a J.D. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.