by Korrien Hopkins
Who was the youngest woman ever to serve as the Director of the Labor Department’s Women’s Bureau, also known for her handling of the 1997 UPS worker’s strike?
Answer: Alexis Herman
Alexis Herman was born on July 16, 1947 in Mobile, Alabama. Her father Alex Herman was a politician and her mother, Gloria Caponis, was an educator. Herman graduated from Heart of Mary High School in Mobile in 1965 and enrolled in Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin, and then Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama before transferring to St. Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans. At Xavier, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in 1969. She began her career working for Catholic Charities helping young people find employment. At the age of twenty-nine, President Carter’s appointment made her the youngest director of the Women’s Bureau in the history of the Labor Department. In 1992, she became the 1st African American woman to serve as an Assistant to the president as the Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison. On May 1, 1997, 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 during her tenure as a member of the President’s Cabinet.
Herman focused on a prepared workforce, a secure workforce, and quality workplaces while working as secretary. 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. This in result moved people from welfare to work and launched the most aggressive unemployed youth initiative since the 1970’s. Under her tenure, unemployment reached a thirty-year low and remains so today. The nation witnessed the safest workplace record in the history of the Department of Labor.
Today, Alexis Herman serves as chair and CEO of New Ventures, LLC, a Risk Management Firm. She continues to lend her expertise and talent too many corporate enterprises and nonprofit organizations. Herman is a former trustee of her Alma Mater, Xavier University of Louisiana. She Co-Chaired the Bush Clinton Katrina Fund and was a member of the board of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. Presently, she chairs the Toyota Diversity Advisory Board. She works for nonprofits serving as a Trustee for the National Urban League, a member of the Executive Board of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and the president of the Dorothy I. Height Educational Foundation.
The success of Alexis Herman is very important and beneficial to me. Her accomplishments opened many door for women of color .While at the Women’s Bureau, Herman pressured corporate giants to hire women of color. For the first time, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, General Motors and others put diversity on their list of hiring priorities. She is a main contributing factor to the diversity in Americas Corporate businesses today. I’m truly grateful for Alexis Herman paving the way.