Gina Ortiz Jones awaits confirmation as under secretary of the Air Force

Phone banking with her dog Harley during the 2020 campaign for Texas’s 23rd district. Facebook photo

The Biden administration has nominated Gina Ortiz Jones to serve as under secretary of the Air Force, the White House announced on April 27. If she is confirmed in the U.S. Senate, Jones becomes the first out lesbian to hold the position and the highest ranking Filipino American in the Biden government.

Her nomination was received April 28 in the Senate and has been referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

The announcement says Jones has spent her career working to protect U.S. economic and national security.

“Commissioned through the Air Force ROTC program at Boston University, Ms. Jones served as an Air Force intelligence officer and deployed to Iraq with the 18th Air Support Operations Group supporting close air support operations. A member of the LGBTQ community, Ms. Jones served under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Upon separation from the Air Force, Ms. Jones advised on military operations in Central and South America with the 470th Military Intelligence Brigade and U.S. Army South. She joined the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) as an inaugural member of U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany and served in the Libya Crisis Intelligence Cell.

With mother Victorina Ortiz from Pangasinan. Photo:

“Following an assignment as the Special Advisor to the DIA Deputy Director, Ms. Jones was detailed to the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center to serve as the Intelligence Community’s Senior Advisor for trade enforcement. She joined the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative as a Director for Investment leading the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) portfolio. Ms. Jones served as the Democratic nominee for Texas’s 23rd Congressional District in 2018 and 2020. She has advanced degrees from Boston University, the University of Kansas, and the U.S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies.”

Born in Arlington, Virginia, Jones – whose full name is Gina Maria Ortiz Jones — was raised in San Antonio, Texas by a single mother. Mom Victorina Ortiz graduated from the University of the Philippines in Diliman and migrated to the U.S. in the late 1970s initially finding a job as a domestic worker.  She became a teacher in the Harlandale school district and works with children with special needs. Jones has a younger sister, Christi, who works in the U.S. Navy.

“I’m very proud of my Filipino background,” Jones told The FilAm in a 2018 interview. “My mother is from Pangasinan. She is Ilocano, I am Ilocano.”

She told the Advocate the value of hard work was “instilled by her mother’s example in pursuing the American dream,” such that “if she was willing to work hard, the sky’s the limit.”

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