Hall of Secretaries: Alexis M. Herman

Alexis M. Herman
Portrait Artist: Simmie Knox

Tenure: May 1, 1997 to January 20, 2001

Born in Mobile, Alabama on July 16, 1947, Secretary Herman received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Xavier University in New Orleans. President Jimmy Carter appointed her Director of the Women’s Bureau, 1977 – 1981. At the age of 29, she was the youngest person ever to serve in that position. She brought more than two decades of leadership to the position of U.S. Secretary of Labor and spent her entire career on the front line of the changing workforce – as a businesswoman, a government executive, and a community leader – developing, promoting, and implementing policies to benefit workers and to increase opportunities and skills for the hard-to-employ. Before joining President Clinton’s Cabinet, Herman served in the administration as assistant to the President and director of the White House Public Liaison Office.

As the nation entered the new millennium, the nature of work and the face of workers were changing at tremendous speed. Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman saw her job as helping American workers effectively manage that change. As President Clinton said when he announced her appointment in December 1996, she is a leader who “understands the needs of workers and understands the challenges they face as we approach the 21st Century.” While serving as the 23rd Secretary of Labor and the first African American to head the department, Herman led the Department of Labor to focus its work on three goals: a prepared workforce, a secure workforce and a quality workforce.


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