Nani Coloretti uses the skills she learned writing sketch comedy for Bloomers at her current job in the Treasury Department.
“I know it sounds ridiculous … but it’s true,” the 1991 College graduate said.
Coloretti is the acting assistant secretary for management in the Treasury Department. Her responsibilities range from creating and justifying the Treasury budget to Congress to overseeing all operations in the Treasury, such as human resources and information technology.
Coloretti’s work has led her through social issues, general budgeting and financial reform.
Standing up the newest department
One of Coloretti’s best known accomplishments is her involvement in the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which she calls “the most challenging and interesting thing at Treasury.”
The CFPB, the agency primarily responsible for regulating consumer protection, was formed through the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. Although the CFPB was under the Treasury umbrella for its first year, it is currently an independent agency.
While the financial reform legislation was being deliberated, Coloretti said, the Treasury was unsure if the CFPB would be a part of any reform if it passed.
“We realized the way the language [of the law] had been written was that the Treasury Department was responsible for administratively creating this thing,” she said. “It was just this idea, and [then] they’re like, ‘Hey, we need to create this thing and we only have a little time to do so.’”
As there were no existing personnel for the CFPB, Coloretti brought in new people from several different offices to develop the agency and staff. The CFPB received an independent review within a year of its formation, which approved its smooth transition.
“Treasury is known for getting hard things done quickly,” Coloretti said.
“I keep telling this joke, which is, ‘I went from working in the oldest department in government to standing up the newest department in government,” she added. “It was really interesting to have all these views.”
Trajectory to the Treasury
Before her time at the Treasury, Coloretti worked in San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office for four years. There, she helped implement the $6.5 billion annual budget and developed programs in areas such as health care and IT.
She also worked in the federal Office of Management and Budget during the Clinton Administration and did state budget analysis in Hawaii.
During her three years in OMB, Coloretti was an entry-level analyst and focused on Medicaid.
“I loved my time there,” she said. “I was there … when there was a lot of activity in the work I was doing.”
Coloretti left Washington for California in 1997, thinking she wouldn’t return. However, a colleague from OMB, Dan Tangherlini, was tapped to be an official at the Treasury by the Obama administration and suggested that Coloretti put her name in for consideration. Tangherlini became the assistant secretary of the Treasury for Management, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Performance Officer.
“He called me when I was in California working in San Francisco and said, ‘I think you should be my deputy,’” Coloretti said.
In 2009, the White House hired her. Her work, which revolves around budget, finance and social issues, is consistent with where her career has been in the past.
Friend and classmate Julie Kramer, a 1991 College graduate, said Coloretti “always had her eye on people who have less.”
Leader of a group of leaders
“If you had told me at Penn that she would be behind the scenes, I would have been surprised,” said Kramer, who met Coloretti their sophomore year in Bloomers, the all-female comedy sketch group.
She remembered the day she and Coloretti bonded after a Bloomers performance. The two have maintained their friendship post graduation.
“I remember walking to the high rises with her,” Kramer said. “The wind was blowing and it was raining and we were singing songs from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and cracking up.”
During her senior year, Coloretti had earned the opportunity to direct a show for Bloomers.
“I know it sounds ridiculous that writing sketch comedy could help you communicate with people, but it does and I use it every day,” she said.
Coloretti’s involvement with Penn’s Public Policy and Management group has contributed directly to her work at the Treasury. The group used economics to solve public problems. Her graduate degree in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley comprised much the same activities as she had done in that group at Penn, she said.
“She just had a crazy amount of activities,” Kramer said.
Kramer recalled Coloretti’s leadership skills on display planning a class reunion.
“She was very determined to get as many people as possible to go,” Kramer said, adding Coloretti planned an itinerary of activities for their friends that weekend. “She was kind of unrelenting with many … people we went to college with.”
Coloretti received recognition for her leadership skills as far back as Penn, where she was invited to join the Sphinx Senior Society.
“It is very interesting to try to be a leader of a group with lots of leaders,” she said of her role as the group’s scribe.
Kramer admires Coloretti because she is making an impact without putting herself in the spotlight.
“I think certainly a lot of people who are in her position, who have a degree in economics from Penn … are making a lot more money,” Kramer said. “She’s really in some ways behind the scenes, but choosing to be part of the mechanism has been really rewarding for her … It’s not about the glory for her.”