On Dec. 19, 2008, Obama announced his selection of Rep. Hilda Solis, D-Calif., for secretary of labor. In early January, Solis told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that, at the helm of the Labor Department, she would give priority to fair pay, retirement security and investing in work force development and job growth. One of seven children whose mother emigrated from Nicaragua and whose father worked as a Teamsters shop steward, Solis said, "My passion for improving opportunities for middle-class Americans is the product of my life story." Senators voted 80-17 Feb. 24 to confirm Solis for the position. Solis, from east Los Angeles, became a U.S. House representative in 2001 after many years as a California state lawmaker. She became California's first Latina state senator in 1994.
Barack Obama tapped 81-year-old Paul Volcker to chair the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, which will be responsible for offering independent, non-partisan economic analysis and advice to Obama. Volcker served as Federal Reserve Chairman under presidents Carter and Reagan. He has been criticized for driving up interest rates during his time but is also known for cutting inflation. One of Obama's top economic advisors during the campaign, Volcker has been a staunch proponent of government regulation. Austan Goolsbee, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, will serve as Staff Director and Chief Economist of the Recovery Advisory Board and act as the primary liaison between the Board and the Administration.
Larry Summers has been picked to lead Obama's National Economic Council. Summers was Treasury secretary under Clinton and became president of Harvard University after leaving Treasury in 2001. He resigned from his post at Harvard a year after making a controversial speech about women's success in math and science careers.
Before serving in the Clinton administration, Summers was one of the youngest tenured professors in Harvard's history, served as chief economist of the World Bank, and worked as an economic adviser in the Reagan administration. Summers' appointment to the National Economic Council does not require Senate confirmation.
To lead the Council of Economic Advisers, which is in the executive office of the president, Obama selected Christina Romer. Romer is a well-respected economist and economics professor at the University of California at Berkeley. Previous chairs of the Council of Economic Advisers include Ben Bernanke, Greg Mankiw, Laura D'Andrea Tyson, and Alan Greenspan.
Obama also announced that Melody Barnes would be director of the Domestic Policy Council. Barnes was the executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress. She has also served as Sen. Edward Kennedy's chief counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee and as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's director of legislative affairs.