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Name: Solis, Hilda
Current Position: Previous Secretary

Born on October 20, 1957, Hilda Solis was raised in La Puente, California in the San Gabriel. Her father, Raúl Solis, an immigrant from Mexico, has worked as a Teamster helping to organize employees in both Mexico and the US. Her mother, Juana, who was born in Nicaragua, worked on an assembly line for Mattel Inc. for 22 years. The third of seven children, Solis was the first member of her family to attend college, graduating from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, with a BA in political science (1979). She later earned a Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California (1981).

 
While attending grad school, Solis interned in the White House Office of Hispanic Affairs during the latter days of the Carter administration. She went to work as a management analyst in the civil rights division of the Office of Management and Budget, but soon left after Ronald Reagan became president.
 
Solis returned to Los Angeles and became director of the California Student Opportunity and Access Program, which sought to help disadvantaged youths gain entry into college.
 
Solis was first elected to public office in 1985 as a member of the Rio Hondo Community College Board of Trustees. By 1991 she had become a protégé of LA County Supervisor Gloria Molina, who appointed Solis to the Los Angeles County Commission on Insurance. With Molina’s powerful backing, Solis successfully ran for the Democratic nomination to represent the California State Assembly’s 57th district in 1992. Two years later, State Senator Art Torres gave up his seat to run for state Insurance Commissioner, opening the way for Solis to become the first Latina elected to the California Senate. She easily won re-election in 1998, but thanks to the state’s term limits law, could not run again for the Legislature’s upper house.
 
In 2000, Solis gambled and challenged longtime Democratic Congressman Matthew Martinez for the party’s nomination to represent California’s 31st Congressional District. Martinez, an 18-year veteran of Capitol Hill, had earned the ire of organized labor when he supported the ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), prompting complaints from locals and some Democrats. During her campaign against Martinez, Solis enjoyed the support of labor unions, US Senator Barbara Boxer and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, along with Martinez’s sister, Helen Lujan. She went on to easily beat the incumbent in the Democratic primary by almost 40 points, and also won the general election without difficulty due to the district’s lopsided registration favoring Democrats. 
 
Following the 2000 reapportionment, Solis’ seat became the 32nd Congressional District, which includes Azusa, Baldwin Park, Covina, Duarte, El Monte, Irwindale, Rosemead, South El Monte, West Covina and portions of Monterey Park and East Los Angeles. She held the primarily Hispanic seat until getting the nod to be the next Secretary of Labor.
 
Solis’ Congressional duties have involved serving as the first Latina on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which included being vice chair of the Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials and a member of the Health and Telecommunications Subcommittees. Solis also served on the House Committee on Natural Resources and the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. In addition, she served as co-vice chair of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, as a senior whip and a regional whip for Southern California, as chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Health and the Environment Task Force, and co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues.
 
Outside of Congress, Solis has served on the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the Helsinki Commission), including being vice chair of the Helsinki Commission’s General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions. Solis also served as part of the Mexico–United States Interparliamentary Group.
 
Throughout her political career, Solis has established herself as a liberal Democrat focused on issues such as affordable health care, protecting the environment, and supporting organized labor. Her signature labor bill while in Congress was the so-called “green jobs” act of 2007, which provided funding for such jobs as energy efficiency retrofit and service, green building construction, and solar panel installation. While serving in the California Senate, she helped raise the state minimum wage in 1996 from $4.25 to $5.75 an hour. She is the only member of Congress on the board of the pro-labor American Rights at Work  Solis has a 93% lifetime rating from the AFL-CIO as a Congressional representative, and a 96% liberal rating by National Journal.
 
During the 2008 presidential primary campaign, Solis was a superdelegate committed to Hilary Clinton until Clinton withdrew.
 
Solis was sworn in as Secretary of Labor on March 13, 2009.
 
Calif. Congresswoman Solis Tapped to Head Labor (by Alec MacGillis, Washington Post)
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