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October 6, 2008    DOL > WB > Directors Gallery   

Directors' Gallery

Shinae Chun - Director

Shinae Chun
(Current Director)

Irasema T. Garza

Irasema T. Garza
(served 1999 - 2000)

In November 1999, Irasema T. Garza was confirmed by the Senate as the 14th Director of the U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau. This is not Ms. Garza's first position with this Administration or the Department of Labor. She headed up Departmental initiatives -- both domestic and international -- since 1994.

From January through July 1994, Ms. Garza served as Executive Director of the Congressional Commission on Family and Medical Leave, housed at the Women's Bureau.

"Our role today is to open the doors of opportunity even wider -- and ensure that they are never closed again."
lamp Karen Nussbaum

Karen Nussbaum
(served 1993 - 1996)

Karen Nussbaum cofounded and led 9to5, the National Association of Working Women, from 1973 - 1993, and served as organizer and president of District 925 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for nearly 20 years. As Women's Bureau Director, she reached out directly to working women themselves to find out what they like and don't like about their jobs, and what they want to change -- and initiated real, practical responses to their concerns.

"Every individual is capable of extraordinary things, but no one can accomplish anything by themselves. Working women should count, but the only way we'll make that true is if we work together."
Elsie Vartanian

Elsie Vartanian
(served 1991 - 1993)

Before coming to the Women's Bureau Elsie Vartanian was an entrepreneur, founder and president of a real estate brokerage firm, and a 12-year member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Under her leadership, the Women's Bureau focused on recruitment and training for non-traditional employment, women's business ownership and math/science education for girls.

"My experiences as Director strengthened my belief that women must channel combined energies and use our collective abilities to empower others. We must teach that empowerment is a two-step process: As we climb, we must also lift."
lamp Jill Houghton Emery

Jill Houghton Emery (Phillips)
(served 1988 - 1989)

Jill Houghton Emery (Phillips) was a small business owner and Director of the Office of Women's Business Ownership before she came to the Women's Bureau. Under her leadership, the Women's Bureau focused on increasing women's access to professional and managerial positions, improving job training and education, and helping employers address work and family issues.

"Administrations may change, but the spirit of the Women's Bureau to smooth the road ahead to the 21st Century for working women remains the same. I am honored to have played a part in that history."
Shirley M. Dennis

Shirley M. Dennis
(served 1986 - 1988)

Shirley Dennis brought considerable management experience and a strong advocacy background to her Women's Bureau post. Under her leadership, the Women's Bureau operated the Work and Family Clearinghouse and advocated a holistic approach to welfare reform.

"These are what I call my defining moments: While at the Department, I was part of the senior staff that created the dialogue resulting from the Hudson Institue report on Workforce 2000 which delineated changing demographics in the workforce. My specific responsibility, in regard to the dialogue, was to address business leaders on the need to embrace Work and Family issues as part of their workplace policies. Another defining moment was my election as the first American president to head up the women's committee of the 24 nation Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development."
lamp Lenora Cole Alexander

Lenora Cole Alexander
(served 1981 - 1986)

Dr. Lenora Cole Alexander came to the Women's Bureau with a strong background in higher education and public service. She used her position as Director to promote employer-sponsored child care, address school-to-work transition problems of young women, and work to increase women's employment through job fairs and job matching services.

"I especially enjoyed helping women and their national and international organizations to develop policies, skills and opportunities to advance their participation in the world of work. It is gratifying to observe that many of the issues the Bureau identified several years ago have become the contemporary major concerns of policymakers and women's organizers. This would not have been possible without the vision and dedication of a highly-qualified staff."
Alexis M. Herman

Alexis M. Herman
(served 1977 - 1981)

Before coming to the Bureau, Alexis Herman worked on a wide range of programs to improve economic prospects for minorities, women and young people. As Director, she mounted new employment initiatives for low-income and young women and pushed for adult education programs to help older women enter or re-enter the workforce.

"Serving as Director of the Women's Bureau afforded me the unique opportunity to help women explore new horizons never before open to them - to expand opportunities and open doors, expecially in non-traditional work areas. After 75 years, I am proud to have been associated with the history of the Women's Bureau that continues to make progress on behalf of working women and their families."
lamp Carmen Rosa Maymi

Carmen Rosa Maymi
(served 1973 - 1977)

The first Women's Bureau Director appointed from within the ranks and the first Hispanic Director, Carmen Rosa Maymi used her position to call attention to the unique barriers faced by Hispanic women. She also developed the Bureau's links with private organizations to help working women realize their full potential.

"My tenure as Director occurred at the most exciting and productive period for American women. The Women's Bureau became a true partner with minority women, union women and national organizations in the formulation of government policies that still benefit working women and their families. We were all enriched by the discovery of our strength."
Elizabeth Duncan Koontz

Elizabeth Duncan Koontz
(served 1969 - 1973)

Elizabeth Duncan Koontz taught for 30 years before becoming the first black woman to head the Bureau and the highest ranking black woman in the Nixon Administration. A champion on the rights of minority women, Ms. Koontz also fought for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
lamp Mary Dublin Keyserling

Mary Dublin Keyserling
(served 1964 - 1969)

An economist with experience in education and social welfare, Mary Dublin Keyserling initiated efforts to study the impact of new civil rights and pay equity legislation on women workers, reassessed standing laws, and pushed for new training opportunities. She helped the Department of Labor set an example for employers by establishing a near-site child care center for children of low-income employees.
Esther Peterson

Esther Peterson
(served 1961 - 1964)

Esther Peterson, who had a background in education, labor and women's affairs, broadened support and heightened visability for the Women's Bureau and women's issues as a whole. Her efforts were instrumental in creating the President's Commission on the Status of Women and in finally achieving passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963.

"I think we helped move the women's question up so it's beginning to be equal with the men's question. We're not in the basement anymore."
lamp Alice K. Leopold

Alice K. Leopold
(served 1953 - 1961)

Alice Leopold had a very different background from her two predecessors -- in retail management and state elective office. During her tenure as Women's Bureau Director, she continued the battle for pay equity and documented the new role of women on the job.
Frieda S. Miller

Frieda S. Miller
(served 1944 - 1953)

Frieda Miller, also from a labor background, continued Ms. Anderson's work. She focused her efforts on the postwar employment prospects for American women, and raised issues such as the need for quality child care and the poor conditions of domestic workers.
Lamp Mary Anderson

Mary Anderson
(served 1920 - 1944)

The first "up from the ranks" labor woman to head an executive department of the Federal Government, Mary Anderson directed the Women's Bureau for nearly 25 years, leading efforts to win better wages, hours and working condition for women. She served for five presidents and, during her tenure, saw the ranks of women workers more than double.

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