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2011 Hispanic Heritage Month Chair's Award

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The Honorable Hilda L. Solis, Secretary of Labor and
The Honorable Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior

will Receive the Chair's Award on September 14

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The Honorable Hilda L. Solis, Secretary of Labor


With passions that extend from affordable healthcare and stronger, working families to protecting the environment and promoting clean energy jobs, Secretary Hilda L. Solis has been serving the public since 1985.  Her most recent position as U.S. Secretary of Labor—a position she’s held since 2009—marks the culmination of a career that has been dedicated to improving the lives of others, especially Latinos. 


 Solis was the first Latina elected to the California State Senate, and while in that position, she served as chairwoman of the California Senate Industrial Relations Committee where she led the 1996 battle to increase the state's minimum wage from $4.25 to $5.75 an hour.  She also authored a record 17 state laws aimed at combating domestic violence.


While serving the 32nd Congressional District in California, Solis was appointed to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the Helsinki Commission) in 2007 and was elected Vice Chair of the Commission’s General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights, and Humanitarian Questions. She was the only U.S. elected official to serve on this committee.

2011 Chair's Award-Hilda Solis 

As a nationally-recognized advocate for the environment, Solis became the first woman to receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2000 for her pioneering work on environmental justice issues. Her California environmental justice legislation, enacted in 1999, was the first of its kind in the nation to become law.  She also authored the Green Jobs Act, which provided funding for “green” collar job training for veterans, displaced workers, at-risk youth, and individuals in families under 200 percent of the federal poverty line.


The Honorable Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior


Secretary Ken Salazar has spent much of his career protecting America’s natural resources and beautiful spaces.  A fifth-generation Coloradan, Salazar's family settled in the American West before the United States was even a country.  Raised on a remote ranch that Salazar’s family farmed and ranched for nearly 125 years, Salazar grew up without electricity or a telephone and learned the values of hard work, family, and faith, while gaining a deep appreciation for the land. Salazar has also spent his life serving the public through various elected positions.


Prior to being confirmed as the 50th secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior on January 20, 2009, Salazar served as Colorado’s 35th U.S. Senator.  He served on the Finance Committee, which oversees the nation's tax, trade, social-security, and health-care systems.  He continued his service by volunteering on the Agriculture, Energy and Natural Resources, Ethics, Veterans Affairs, and Aging Committees.  Through his work on these committees, he further supported responsible use of the nation’s national resources and rights for all Americans. 

2011 Chair's Award-Ken Salazar

From 1999 to 2004, Salazar served as Colorado’s 36th Attorney General, winning statewide elections in 1998 and again in 2002.  In this position, Salazar made many improvements in the area of law enforcement, consumer protection and anti-fraud laws to further protect Colorado’s citizens.  He chaired the Conference of Western Attorneys General and received the Profiles in Courage award for his dedication to preserving and promoting the rule of law. 

In 1990, while serving as chief counsel for Governor Roy Romer, Salazar was appointed to Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.  In that role, Salazar established reforms so that the mining and petroleum industries would better protect the surrounding environment.  He also authored the Great Outdoors Colorado Amendment, which created a massive land conservation program, and created the Youth in Natural Resources program to provide for environmental education in public schools.

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