Alexis Herman

Alexis Herman
23rd United States Secretary of Labor
In office
May 1, 1997  January 20, 2001
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Robert Reich
Succeeded by Elaine Chao
Director of the Office of Public Liaison
In office
January 20, 1993  February 7, 1997
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Cecile Kremer
Succeeded by Maria Echaveste
Director of the Women's Bureau
In office
President Jimmy Carter
Preceded by Carmen Rosa Maymi
Succeeded by Lenora Cole Alexander
Personal details
Born Alexis Margaret Herman
(1947-07-16) July 16, 1947
Mobile, Alabama, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Charles Franklin
Alma mater Edgewood College
Spring Hill College
Xavier University, Louisiana

Alexis Margaret Herman (born July 16, 1947) is an American politician who served as the 23rd U.S. Secretary of Labor, serving under President Bill Clinton. Prior to her appointment, she was Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

Early life and education

Herman was born on July 16, 1947 in Mobile, Alabama, the daughter of politician Alex Herman and schoolteacher Gloria Caponis. She grew up in a Catholic home[1] in Mobile and earned her high school diploma in 1965 from the Heart of Mary High School. She briefly attended Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin, and Spring Hill College in Mobile, but transferred to Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, where she became an active member of the Gamma Alpha Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority[2] and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in 1969.

Herman was Queen of Carnival for the Mobile Area Mardi Gras Association (Mobile's African-American Mardi Gras umbrella organization) in 1974. Her Carnival king, Douglas Wicks, would go on to become the first African-American elected to the Mobile County Commission since Reconstruction.[3]


After college, Herman worked for Catholic Charities and other agencies, advocating for minority women employment. Jimmy Carter met the young Herman while campaigning in Atlanta, Georgia and, after winning the White House in 1977, asked her to be Director of the Labor Department's Women's Bureau. At age 29, she was the youngest person to ever serve in that position.[4]

Herman's official U.S. Department of Labor portrait.

In 1981, Herman founded her own consulting firm - A.M. Herman & Associates. She served as president of the company while remaining active in Democratic politics. During her tenure as chief of staff and later vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, she was responsible for organizing the 1992 Democratic National Convention.

After Bill Clinton's victory in the 1992 Presidential election, Herman became deputy director of the Presidential Transition Office. She was later appointed to head the White House Office of Public Liaison, where she was responsible for the administration's relations with interest groups.

During Clinton's second term, Herman was named Secretary of Labor, the first African American to be nominated for that position and the fifth woman to be appointed. Her nomination was initially opposed by Congressional Republicans and labor unions, but she earned praise from her peers for her handling of the 1997 UPS workers strike.

Herman came under investigation for allegedly accepting kickbacks while working at the White House. She was the 5th cabinet officer be investigated by independent counsel. In 2000 the independent counsel concluded that Herman had broken no laws and cleared her of all wrongdoing.[5]

During the 2000 Florida election recount, Herman was part of team planning a transition to a Gore Administration, and she was mentioned as a likely candidate for White House Chief of Staff. She was replaced as Secretary of Labor in the George W. Bush administration by Elaine Chao.

Herman now serves as the co-chairperson (with James Roosevelt, Jr.) of the Democratic National Committee's Rules and Bylaws Committee.[6][7][8]

Herman also now serves on the boards of several major companies, including The Coca-Cola Company's Human Resources Task Force, Toyota's Diversity Advisory Board, Cummins, MGM Resorts International, Entergy, Sodexo, and Prudential and is the chairman and CEO of New Ventures, Inc.


  1. Alexis Herman bio from
  2. "Notable Deltas". Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Archived from the original on January 20, 2010. Retrieved December 12, 2007.
  3. "Women in Government: A Slim Past, But a Strong Future". Ebony: 89–92, 96–98. August 1977.
  4., April 06, 2000, Labor Secretary is Cleared in Inquiry on Kickbacks by Neil A. Lewis,
  5. NPR: Who's Who on the Rules and Bylaws Committee
  6. MyDD: Vote Counting the DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee
  7. It's decision day for Democrats Archived May 31, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.

External links

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Yvonne Kennedy
Queen of Carnival for Mobile Area Mardi Gras Association
Succeeded by
Winifred Lucy
Political offices
Preceded by
Cecile Kremer
Director of the Office of Public Liaison
Succeeded by
Maria Echaveste
Preceded by
Robert Reich
United States Secretary of Labor
Succeeded by
Elaine Chao
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