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(The Grio) — I first met Hilda Solis when she was President Obama’s nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Labor, and I was communications director for Sen. Ted Kennedy and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, which would have to approve the nomination. Sen. Kennedy had come to admire Solis in 2000 when she received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for her dogged efforts to end environmental injustice. As a California state senator and Member of Congress, Solis had earned the reputation as a work horse – more concerned about getting a job done than she was with seeing her name in the paper. Solis’s nomination was voted out of the HELP Committee and soon the full Senate. She would become the first Hispanic woman to serve as a Cabinet Secretary.

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