Tom Perez ’87 has been elected chair of the Democratic National Committee. He is the first Latino to hold that post.

Perez has a long record of government service. Most recently, he served as Secretary of Labor in the administration of President Barack Obama ’91.

He began his legal career as an assistant attorney general in the U.S. Justice Department. He was special counsel to Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), advising him on civil rights, criminal justice, and constitutional issues. Perez also served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights under Attorney General Janet Reno ’63, and he led the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at the end of the Clinton administration. Perez returned to the DOJ in 2009 after President Obama was elected, serving as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.

Perez has also held positions in state and local government, serving on the Montgomery County (Md.) City Council and as the Secretary of Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

A cum laude graduate of HLS, Perez was raised in Buffalo, N.Y., and graduated from Brown University. He also holds an M.P.P. from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Perez is not the first HLS alum to chair one of the major national political parties. Tim Kaine ’83 was chair of the DNC from 2009 to 2011. Ken Mehlman ’91 was chair of the Republican Party from 2005 to 2007.