(CNN)Rosie Rios notices when women are missing in action.
The 43rd treasurer of the United States is keenly aware, for example, that on the third floor of the Treasury Department, there is not a single woman among the portraits of the country’s ex-treasury secretaries. And in the male-dominated world of finance, female senior executives are few and far between.
So after being sworn in as treasurer in 2009, she became fixated on a goal: putting a woman on U.S. currency.
Her quiet campaign burst into public view last month when Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced to national fanfare that a woman of historical significance will be featured on the next $10 note.
“When I got to the point where I actually mentioned (my children) Brooke and Joey’s name in my remarks, I got choked up,” Rios, who turned 50 on Friday, said in a recent interview in Washington. “That’s hardly ever happened before in my entire life but it hit me — it hit me then that this was going to happen.”
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While the new design won’t be unveiled until 2020, the announcement is sparking a spirited national debate about which woman should grace the $10 bill. There’s also some grumbling about putting a woman on the $10 note rather than the $20, even though the Treasury Department has explained that the decision was largely driven by security considerations.
Hillary Clinton, who is trying to make history of her own by becoming the country’s first female president, has shared her two cents.
“I don’t know why they picked the $10 bill,” she told CNN’s Brianna Keilar earlier this month. “I think a woman should have her own bill and it may be more appropriate to look at the $20 than the $10.”
Rios shrugged off the debate over why a woman is being placed on the $10 note rather than the $20 and why founding father Alexander Hamilton is being booted rather than former President Andrew Jackson.
“I just haven’t heard that outside of D.C.,” Rios said. “For the most part, I think people are excited that this is happening. This is historical.”