ODEP - Office of Disability Employment Policy
Disability Employment Policy Resources by Topic
ODEP's 10th Anniversary Celebration Real People. Real Impact.
Secretary Hilda L. Solis was confirmed as Secretary of Labor on February 24, 2009. Prior to confirmation as Secretary of Labor, Secretary Solis represented the 32nd Congressional District in California, a position she held from 2001 2009.
In the Congress, Solis' priorities included expanding access to affordable health care, protecting the environment, and improving the lives of working families. A recognized leader on clean energy jobs, she authored the Green Jobs Act which provided funding for "green" collar job training for veterans, displaced workers, at risk youth, and individuals in families under 200 percent of the federal poverty line.
In 2007, Solis was appointed to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the Helsinki Commission), as well as the Mexico United States Interparliamentary Group. In June 2007, Solis was elected Vice Chair of the Helsinki Commission's General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions. She was the only U.S. elected official to serve on this Committee.
Seth Harris was nominated to be the Deputy Secretary of Labor on February 23, 2009. Prior to joining the Department, Mr. Harris served as a Professor of Law at New York Law School and Director of its Labor & Employment Law Programs. While teaching at the New York Law School, Mr. Harris was also a Senior Fellow at the Life Without Limits Project of the United Cerebral Palsy Association and a member of the National Advisory Commission on Workplace Flexibility.
Prior to his work at the New York Law School, Mr. Harris served for seven years at the Department of Labor during the Clinton Administration, spanning the tenures of Secretaries Robert Reich and Alexis Herman. During this time, Mr. Harris served as Counselor to the Secretary of Labor and as Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Policy, among other policy-advising positions.
Mr. Harris is a graduate of the New York University School of Law where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Review of Law and Social Change. Mr. Harris served as a law clerk to Judge William Canby of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and to Judge Gene Carter of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University.
Kathleen Martinez was nominated by President Barack Obama to be the third Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on June 25, 2009. As head of the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), Ms. Martinez advises the Secretary of Labor and works with all DOL agencies to lead a comprehensive and coordinated national policy regarding the employment of people with disabilities.
Blind since birth, Ms. Martinez comes to ODEP with a background as an internationally recognized disability rights leader specializing in employment, asset building, independent living, international development, diversity and gender issues.
She was appointed Executive Director of the World Institute on Disability (WID), based in Oakland, California, in 2005. Ms. Martinez directed Proyecto Visión, WID's National Technical Assistance Center to increase employment opportunities for Latinos with disabilities in the United States, and Access to Assets, an asset-building project to help reduce poverty among people with disabilities. At WID, she also led the team that produced the acclaimed international webzine DisabilityWorld in English and Spanish.
Considered one of the nation's leading authorities in the field of media and public advocacy, Mr. Romano has dedicated his career to the marketing of ideas and messages to help save lives and promote public policy. He founded Romano & Associates Inc., which produced highly visible and effective public awareness programs, as well as America's Strength, a not for profit organization which works to promote the importance of hiring individuals with disabilities.
Mr. Romano's extensive professional background includes tenure as director of communications for the White House Office of Drug Abuse Policy. In that role, he worked on campaigns such as "Just Say No" and "America Responds to AIDS."
In 2007 Mr. Romano was nominated by President George W. Bush to be the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy and was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. As head of the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), Mr. Romano advised the Secretary of Labor and worked with all DOL agencies to lead a comprehensive and coordinated national policy regarding the employment of people with disabilities in the United States.
W. Roy Grizzard, Jr., Ed.D was nominated by President George W. Bush to be the first Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy and was confirmed by the Senate on July 26, 2002. Responsible for advising the Secretary of Labor on issues related to the employment of people with disabilities, Dr. Grizzard worked with all agencies within the U. S. Department of Labor to provide leadership in the Department’s efforts to increase employment opportunities for adults and youth with disabilities. Dr. Grizzard served in this position until 2007. Prior to that time, he was Commissioner of the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired for the state of Virginia, from 1995-2002. Dr. Grizzard served as Personnel Administrator for Employee Relations and Special Staffing for the Henrico County, Virginia, Public Schools from 1987-1995. During his early career, Dr. Grizzard was a health and physical education teacher, and an assistant principal.
Tony Coelho was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1978 from California's Central Valley. He ascended the House Leadership ranks quickly, serving first as Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 1981 to 1986, and then as the first-ever elected Majority Whip from 1987 to 1989. As Majority Whip, the third ranking position in the House leadership, Mr. Coelho was responsible for securing the votes needed to pass the legislative agenda.
While in the House, Mr. Coelho, who has epilepsy, authored the Americans with Disabilities Act, widely recognized as the most important piece of civil rights legislation in the last 40 years. Mr. Coelho also served in senior positions on the Agriculture, Interior, and Administration Committees during his ten years in the House.
In 1999, Mr. Coelho returned to politics when Vice President Gore asked him to serve as the General Chairman of his presidential campaign. Mr. Coelho was instrumental in refocusing the campaign, including relocating its headquarters to Nashville, Tennessee. Mr. Coelho's leadership helped Vice President Gore capture the Democratic nomination while winning every primary and caucus. In June of 2000, Mr. Coelho resigned his position due to health concerns but continued as a key advisor to the Vice President.
Tom Harkin was born in Cumming, Iowa (pop. 150) on November 19, 1939, the son of an Iowa coal miner father and a Slovenian immigrant mother. To this day, he still lives in the house in Cumming where he was born.
Growing up in a close-knit family of modest means, Tom and his five siblings learned early in life the importance of hard work and responsibility. During his youth, he worked in a variety of jobs - on farms and construction sites, as a paper boy and at a Des Moines bottling plant.
After graduating from Dowling High School in Des Moines, he attended Iowa State University on a Navy ROTC scholarship, earning a degree in government and economics.
Following graduation, Tom served in the Navy as a jet pilot on active duty from 1962 to 1967. Later, he continued to fly in the Naval Reserves. He is an active member of American Legion Post 562 in Cumming and the Commander of the Congressional Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol.
Congressman Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland is a strong advocate of Democrats’ policies to strengthen America’s middle class, its economy, and its national security. As House Democratic Whip for the 112th Congress, Congressman Hoyer is the second-ranking member of the House Democratic Leadership. He is charged with mobilizing the party vote on important legislation, acting as a liaison between Members and the Democratic Leadership, and coordinating strategy within the Caucus. He also plays a key role in shaping House Democrats’ legislative priorities and in delivering the Democratic message. Congressman Hoyer previously served as House Majority Leader from 2007 to 2011, and as House Democratic Whip from 2003 to 2007.
In response to the recession, Congressman Hoyer helped lead House passage of investments and tax cuts that non-partisan experts say are responsible for 3 million jobs. He is also spearheading the Make It In America agenda, a plan to rebuild American manufacturing and its well-paying jobs. He made crucial contributions to the passage of legislation to expand access to affordable health care to all Americans, as well as new common-sense rules to rein in Wall Street excesses and protect consumers while upholding the free market.
Becky Ogle was appointed Executive Director of the Presidential Task Force on the Employment of Adults with Disabilities by Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman on June 26, 1998. She served in that position for the life of the Task Force. Ms. Ogle began her involvement with government as the Director of Governmental Affairs & Advocacy for the Spina Bifida Association of America. She also served as the Director of Project: AccessAbility for the National Association for Medical Equipment Services and led several legislative and public education campaigns on issues including health care, accessibility, and assistive technologies. Ms. Ogle served twice as the Disability Access Coordinator for President Clinton's Inaugural Committees.
Dale, who is partially blind, coordinates the Administration's efforts to see that people with disabilities are on a level playing field with all Americans. Originally from Chicago, Dale previously served as the National Disability Director for the Obama for America campaign. He also served on the Arts Policy Committee and the Disability Policy Committee for then-Senator Obama.
Dale graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a bachelor's degree in Advertising in May 1995. He received his JD/MBA in May 1999 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, graduating Cum Laude.