WASHINGTON — The Washington Football Team is continuing its push for diversity and inclusion in all branches of the team, under the leadership of head coach Ron Rivera. The team announced Wednesday that it hired Natalia Dorantes as its new coordinator of football operations, making her the NFL's first Latina chief of staff.
Dorantes will work directly with Coach Ron Rivera, as well as work with all of the organization's department heads to manage internal requests for Rivera. The 26-year-old spoke openly Wednesday about her appreciation for Rivera paving the way for historic hires in Washington.
"I'm a very proud Latina," Dorantes said in a virtual interview Wednesday. "I was like, 'As another Hispanic, I think it's great that you're in football because there's not many of us.' So thank you for that. It shows a lot that you're just here supporting us."
Coach Rivera himself is no stranger to what being "the first" is like in the NFL. In 1984, Rivera became the first person of Puerto Rican and Mexican descent to be drafted in the league when the Chicago Bears picked him up in the second round. Now, he's only the third Latino head coach in the NFL, and the first Latino head coach for Washington.
Dorantes first met coach Rivera when she virtually attended the fifth annual NFL Women's Careers in Football Forum in February. The position itself is a bit of a first for both Rivera and WFT as an organization, as the coach said his battle with cancer last year taught him he needed to be able to delegate.
"This is kind of new ground for us because I've never had a chief of staff," Rivera said. "So I needed a person that's gonna be able to interact with coaches, with coordinators and may have to say, quite honestly, 'No, I don't think Coach wants that. Because the one thing I want her to understand is that she's going to have my voice, and I trust her."
Dorantes is the most recent name in a string of historic hires for Washington.
In January, WFT hired Jennifer King, who became the NFL's first Black female assistant position coach. She was officially named the team's assistant running backs coach on Jan. 26 after serving as the team's coaching intern in 2020.
"Coach King is always eager to learn and has shown tremendous growth since starting here last season," Rivera said of her promotion. "I know she will continue to be an asset to ... the running back group and she earned this opportunity with her hard work. The sky is truly the limit for her.”
WFT also became the first NFL team with a Black General Manger and Black team president. Martin Mayhew was hired as GM just before King was promoted. Jason Wright became the team's first Black president, as well as the NFL's first.