Irasema Garza, Policy Consultant

Irasema Garza

Irasema Garza is an attorney with significant experience in senior positions within two federal administrations at the U.S. Department of Labor, and in the nonprofit sector. Based in Washington, D.C., she works as an independent consultant providing clients with strategic advice, policy and legal analysis across a range of issues including core civil rights, labor and immigration.

In 2008, Ms. Garza was tapped to serve on President Barack Obama's transition team. Then, in 2010, Ms. Garza was appointed by President Obama to serve as Senior Counselor to U.S. Secretary of Labor. Ms. Garza brought a broad range of experience to the Department of Labor during a period of intense national focus on governmental labor and employment policy. In her position, she oversaw the execution of a diverse set of high priority projects and programs, oversaw a number of DOL subsidiary agencies, and provided strategic advice to the Secretary on a wide range of issues. She also served as the Acting Assistant Secretary for Policy within the Department.

Earlier, in 1993, Ms. Garza was appointed by President Clinton as the first Secretary of the U.S. National Administrative Office, the office charged with implementing the labor provisions of NAFTA where she successfully managed the creation of the agency, building coalitions between U.S. labor groups, businesses, and government agencies. She is credited with effectively using domestic and international media interest to increase public awareness of NAFTA labor disputes and public opinion to pressure resolutions. President Clinton later nominated her to serve as the fourteenth director of the Women's Bureau within the Department of Labor, the only federal agency office mandated by Congress to represent America's wage-earning women in the public policy process. After receiving a unanimous Senate confirmation, Ms. Garza set to work ensuring that economic security for women was a policy priority for the Department of Labor. She established innovative programs that expanded the reach of the organization beyond U.S. borders, assisting the government of Costa Rica to establish a women's bureau within its own department of labor.

Ms. Garza has extensive experience advocating for and reaching out to large, diverse populations of constituents. Prior to joining the Obama Administration, from 2008 to 2011, Ms. Garza served as President of Legal Momentum, the Women's Legal Defense and Education Fund. Under her leadership, the 40-year-old national advocacy organization was transformed into a women's rights organization for the 21st Century pressing for policy reforms to advance gender equality and ensure the economic and personal security of women and their families.

From 2003 to 2006, Ms. Garza served as the director of women's rights for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and later served as the national political director of Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO.

Before turning to public policy, Garza began her career in the Michigan family court system. She earned her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Michigan.

Panel Information

Friday, September 3

1:00 PM EST

National Stage-Race in America's Wave of Voter Suppression

As new voting laws across the United States are being legislated, we are starting to see the impact it will make regarding voting suppression that will impact Latino communities throughout the nation. Ten states have already passed restrictive voting laws and another 17 states are in the process of being passed into law. Not only will this impact Latinos, but it will also affect other minority groups that have already been affected by previous voting laws that have caused suppression in voting turnout. It is our duty to make sure that all Latinos and other minority groups across this country make sure that every person's voice is heard by protecting our voting rights that have been threatened by these recent voting laws.

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