Irasema Garza is an attorney with more than twenty years of 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 a policy advisor to the National Council of La Raza, providing strategic advice, and policy analysis across a range of core civil rights issues.
In 2008, Irasema was tapped to serve on President Barack Obama’s transition team. Then, in 2010, Irasema was appointed by President Obama to serve as Senior Counselor to U.S. Secretary of Labor, Hilda L. Solis. Irasema 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, managed the external communications team, 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, Irasema 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, Irasema 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.
Irasema has extensive experience advocating for and reaching out to large, diverse populations of constituents. Prior to joining the Obama Administration, from 2008 to 2011, Irasema 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, Irasema 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 and as Director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Women’s Rights Department.
Irasema received her Juris Doctorate and Bachelor of Art degrees from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. She is a member of the Michigan Bar, and has received numerous awards for her work with women and underrepresented communities.