Language Icon

David Valdés: “I see a more diverse future in terms of gender, race and color in the oil industry”

A young API fellow could take one of the 800 thousand jobs projected through 2030

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-683x1024.png

By Ricardo Sánchez Silva, @RicardoLoDice

NAHP Media Correspondent

David Valdés, 22 years old, of Mexican parents, saw with enthusiasm and admiration in his childhood the wind turbines in his native Texas when he was driven through the huge fields where these artifacts were located.

That fascination with energy generation would then lead him to think of other aspects that would link with his concern for the environment and the same natural phenomena that he had to live in his city, Galveston, to conclude that he wanted to be in a place where energy policies could make a difference.

Today, he is a chemical engineer, recently graduated in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, from Columbia University in New York and has the opportunity to become a public policy fellow at the American Petroleum Institute (API) until December, and then pass through one of the Chambers of Congress, as part of the “Public Policy Fellow” program of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI).

“I have had experiences in the Gulf, most recently Hurricane Harvey, which hit hard in Houston. It was one of the worst hurricanes, after Katrina. In California there are fires, also in different parts of the world winters are extremely cold. The important thing is that with so much change that we are going to be seeing over the next 10, 15, 20 or 100 years, who knows, there will be a need to lower carbon emissions.”

Diversity and Inclusion

Today, the energy industry seeks to expand its diversity and include minorities such as African Americans and Hispanics. Precisely in order to provide information and perspectives on the role of this sector in these communities, the Community Energy Center (CEC) was created, which provides a forum for raising awareness, understanding and discussions about the importance of the sector to everyday life.

The industry’s projection of recruitment of these ethnic and racial minorities is therefore positive. In this way, young people like David will be able to have greater opportunities. “The CHCI Public Policy and Graduate Fellowship Programs provide an unparalleled leadership experience for our community’s brightest and most innovative emerging leaders. Through our program, participants not only gain first-hand, direct experience with the legislative process in Congress, as well as key leadership skills and training, but they also acquire deep knowledge about highly relevant issues and industries, such as energy. This, combined with induction into an incredible network of both peers and established leaders, gives CHCI fellows a turbo boost in their careers to advance the Latino community, and make the nation stronger.” said Marco Davis, President and CEO of CHCI.

In Valdés’s view, diversity in this and any industry is important, so that there are minorities represented in decisions that also impact those populations. He says that the only way to think from the perspective of minorities is for them to be part of decisions and to be involved in them.

“Without the science program, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to know how energy policy is moving from the American oil organization, and it’s a perspective that I appreciate very much, because I was not so knowledgeable,” he said.

Opportunities for Minorities

According to an API analysis based on the IHS Global Insight report, oil and natural gas will remain the main source of fuel for decades to come while other forms of energy become commercially viable.

According to the document, there will be an increase in export capacity and the generation of more than 800 thousand jobs in the industry by the year 2030, under energy development policies. Of the new jobs generated by 2030, more than 285 thousand (35%) could be filled by African Americans and Hispanics.

“The energy industry has proven to be a catalyst for economic activity and has long supported members of our communities,” said Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association  (NNPA) in the framework of a joint effort to the National Association of Hispanic Publications Media LLC (NAHP Media) to launch the Community Energy Center.

The director was supported by Ricardo Hurtado, media president of NAHP Media, who pointed to the crucial role of this new organization in “the path to creating new careers and career development opportunities” for minorities, as Valdés, who succeeded in completing his Bachelor‘s Degree with scholarships and a lot of effort from his family. This young man aspires to continue his education, so he is in the process of applying for a master’s degree in chemical engineering and environmental sustainability, and then go hard for a PhD in public policy. Those are his goals, without ruling out touching the door in API again, once he completes his education.


On the future of the industry in terms of diversity and sustainability, David is very optimistic. “I would say I see a transition from fuels to renewable energy. On the part of the oil industry, I see a more diverse future in terms of gender, race and color.”

In his passage through API, he learned a lot, such as his satisfaction with the work he did in programs of the institution, both in English and Spanish, focused on guiding high school students and their parents in areas related to STEM and university study options.

This empowerment of minorities, as well as the environmental awareness and making energy affordable in minority communities are priorities that are being promoted by the CEC.

To learn more about the work of the Community Energy Center and receive information on its work, visit You can also learn more about CHCI’s scholarship and leadership programs, which have a deadline of January 15, at


For David Valdés, who is an API Fellow of Mexican parents, diversity in this and any industry is important, so that there are minorities represented in decisions that also impact those populations.