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Senior Counselor — Irasema Garza

Irasema Garza

Irasema Garza was appointed by President Obama to serve as Senior Counselor to U.S. Secretary of Labor, Hilda L. Solis. With over 20 years of advocating for the rights all working people, Irasema brings a broad range of experience to the Department of Labor. In her position, she oversees the execution a diverse set of high priority project and programs, manages communication amongst the senior staff and provides strategic to advice to the Secretary on a wide-range of issues.

Ms. Garza served as president of Legal Momentum, the Women's Legal Defense and Education Fund. Under her leadership the 40 year old organization was transformed into a women's right's organization for the 21st century with a focus of not only advancing gender equality but also on the economic and personal security of women, particularly poor and low-wage working women and their families.

Before joining Legal Momentum in 2008, she established a reputation as a dedicated advocate on behalf of women and minorities. She began her career in the family court system, and later moved to public policy, working for the Department of Labor. Her varied experience also includes consulting for Fortune 500 companies on diversity integration and directing national programs for labor unions.

An appointee in the Clinton Administration, Garza served as the first secretary of the National Administrative Office, which was charged with implementing the labor provisions of NAFTA. Garza successfully managed the creation of the organization, building coalitions between labor groups, businesses, and governments to address labor rights. President Clinton later nominated her to serve as the fourteenth director of the Women's Bureau, the only federal agency mandated by Congress to represent America's wage-earning women in the public policy process. After receiving a unanimous Senate confirmation, Garza set to work ensuring that economic security for women was a policy priority for the Department of Labor. She established innovative outreach programs that expanded the reach of the organization outside of U.S. borders, helping the government of Costa Rica to establish a women's bureau within its own department of labor.

Garza has extensive experience advocating for and reaching out to large, diverse populations of constituents. From 2003 to 2006, Garza served as the director of women's rights for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which serves more than 1.6 million members. Garza later served as the national political director of Working America the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO.

In 2008, the same year she became the seventh president of Legal Momentum, Garza served on President Barack Obama's transition team. She frequently provides commentary on women's and Latino issues for mainstream media outlets, as well as in the Spanish-speaking press. Garza holds a BA from the University of Michigan in Political Science and is also graduate of the University of Michigan Law School.