10 Things You Didn't Know About Hilda Solis

Solis is President Barack Obama's pick to be secretary of labor.


1. Hilda Solis was born on Oct. 20, 1957. Her father, Raul, was a Teamsters Union shop steward from Mexico. Her mother, Juana, was an assembly line worker from Nicaragua. Hilda is the third of seven children.

2. Solis was the first in her family to graduate from college, receiving her B.A. in political science from California State Polytechnic University in 1979.

3. She received a master's in public administration from the University of Southern California in 1981.

4. During graduate school, she worked for the White House Office of Hispanic Affairs and the Office of Management and Budget.

5. In 1992, Solis, a Democrat, won a seat in the California State Assembly.

6. Solis became the first Latina elected to the California State Senate in 1994, and she served there for six years.

7. In 2000, Solis ran for the U.S. House of Representatives against Matthew Martinez, an incumbent from her own party. She won 62 percent of the vote in the primary (Martinez took 29 percent). No Republican ran against her in the general election.

8. Before she moved to Washington in 2001, Solis commissioned a painting of the Capitol dome with the San Gabriel Mountains in the background. The painting was hung in her House office to remind her of her roots.

9. In 2000, recognized for her work on environmental justice issues in California, Solis became the first woman to win the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award.

10. Solis is married to Sam Sayyad, a small-business owner.


  • The Almanac of American Politics 2008
  • The Associated Press
  • Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • California Journal
  • Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis: Biography
  • Los Angeles Times
  • The New York Times
  • TIME Magazine