The Honorable Alexis M. Herman
Former Secretary, United States Department of Labor
Born in Mobile, Alabama, she began her career working for Catholic Charities helping young out-of-school men and women find work in the Pascagoula, Mississippi shipyard. At the age of twenty-nine, President Jimmy Carter's appointment made her the youngest director of the Women's Bureau in the history of the Labor Department. And on May 1, 1997, Alexis M. Herman was sworn in as America's 23rd Secretary of Labor and the first African American ever to lead the United States Department of Labor. She also served as a valued member of the National Economic Council.
As Secretary, she focused on a prepared workforce, a secure workforce, and quality workplaces. With that mandate in mind, she consolidated the Department's wide array of skills development programs into a simpler, more efficient system. She led the effort to institute a global child labor standard; moved people from welfare to work with dignity; and launched the most aggressive unemployed youth initiative since the 1970's. Under her tenure unemployment in the country reached a thirty-year low and the nation witnessed the safest workplace record in the history of the Department of Labor. Alexis Herman's actions as Secretary were a reflection of her understanding of the needs of America's workers and the challenges they faced as this nation approached the 21st Century.
Currently, Ms. Herman serves as chair and chief executive officer of New Ventures, LLC and is the Co-Chair on the Democratic National Committee's Rules and Bylaws Committee. She has continued to lend her expertise and talent to a vast array of corporate enterprises and nonprofit organizations. A recipient of more than twenty honorary doctorate degrees from major colleges and universities around the country, Herman serves on the Board of her alma mater, Xavier University of Louisiana and is a trustee of the National Labor College George Meany Center. Presently, she chairs the Toyota Diversity Advisory Board and the Sodexho Business Advisory Board, is a member of the boards of directors of Cummins Incorporated, Entergy Incorporated, MGM Mirage, and The Coca-Cola Company, and is the former chairwoman of the Coca-Cola Company's Human Resources Task Force. Her nonprofit work includes the National Urban League and the National Epilepsy Foundation. Active in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, Ms. Herman now serves as Co-Chair of the Bush Clinton Katrina Fund.
While serving as Secretary of Labor, Alexis Herman met and married her life partner, Dr. Charles L. Franklin, Jr. She and Dr. Franklin reside in McLean, Virginia.