Nominated by President Barack Obama and sworn in on July 23, 2013, Thomas E. Perez is the nation's 26th secretary of labor. He has committed to making good on the promise of opportunity for all, giving every working family a chance to get ahead, and putting a middle-class life within reach of everyone willing to work for it.
To accomplish this, Perez's priorities for the department include ensuring a fair day's pay for a fair day's work; connecting ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs, through skills programs like Registered Apprenticeship and on-the-job training; promoting gender equality in the workplace; ensuring that people with disabilities and veterans have access to equal employment opportunity; and insisting on a safe and level playing field for all American workers.
Perez's maternal grandfather was the ambassador to the United States from the Dominican Republic in the 1930s until he spoke out against his home country's brutal dictator and was declared non grata. His Dominican-born parents eventually settled in Buffalo, N.Y., where Perez was born and raised.
His father served in the U.S. Army and worked for many years in at the VA hospital in Buffalo, instilling in his son a dedication to public service, where the younger Perez has spent his entire career. Most recently, Perez was assistant attorney general for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Justice, leading the same division where he worked for a decade as a career federal employee beginning in the late 1980s. From 2002 until 2006, he was a member of the Montgomery County Council. He was later appointed secretary of Maryland's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
He was a law professor for six years at the University of Maryland School of Law and was a part-time professor at the George Washington School of Public Health. He received a bachelor's degree from Brown University in 1983. In 1987 he received both a master's of public policy and a law degree from Harvard University.
He lives in Maryland with his wife, Ann Marie Staudenmaier, and their three children.