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Latino State of the Union Panelists Bios

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization, hosts the annual Latino State of the Union policy round table. The panel discussion will be moderated by Giselle Fernandez, President of Creative World Management. Find out more about the moderator and the panelists below.

Moderator: Giselle Fernandez
President of Creative World Management

Five-time Emmy award winning journalist, producer, film maker and Latin media marketing entrepreneur, Giselle Fernandez is the Managing Director of Creative World Talent Management, a division of the Trump Group, overseeing a diverse global media operation with special emphasis in Latin America and the U.S. Latin market. Fernandez has constructed a robust and growing bridge between the U.S. and Latin media markets in Mexico, Spain and Brazil and has opened new doors to shared entertainment on all sides of the border in all mediums, from print, film, television, internet, tele-communications to fashion, marketing, branding, celebrity endorsements and merchandising. Fernandez oversees content development and is currently co-executive producing the legendary Latino baseball hero, Roberto Clemente's life's story with Tom Hanks and HBO, among other Latin themed content.

Fernandez, a much sought after motivational speaker on issues of Latina empowerment, health, fitness and entrepreneurship, is best known over the past decade for her coverage of international news stories and major events.

The Honorable Hilda L. Solis
Former United States Secretary of Labor

Secretary Hilda L. Solis was confirmed as Secretary of Labor on February 24, 2009. Prior to confirmation as Secretary of Labor, Secretary Solis represented the 32nd Congressional District in California, a position she held from 2001 -- 2009.

A nationally recognized leader on the environment, Solis became the first woman to receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2000 for her pioneering work on environmental justice issues. Her California environmental justice legislation, enacted in 1999, was the first of its kind in the nation to become law.

Solis was first elected to public office in 1985 as a member of the Rio Hondo Community College Board of Trustees. She served in the California State Assembly from 1992 to 1994, and in 1994 made history by becoming the first Latina elected to the California State Senate.

Solis graduated from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and earned a Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California. A former federal employee, she worked in the Carter White House Office of Hispanic Affairs and was later appointed as a management analyst with the Office of Management and Budget in the Civil Rights Division.

She was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as Secretary of Labor on January 20, 2009.

Thomas A. Saenz
MALDEF President and General Counsel

Previously, as Counsel to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Saenz served on the four-person executive team to the mayor, where he provided legal and policy advice on major initiatives. During his four-year tenure with the City of Los Angeles, Saenz helped to lead the legislative effort to change the governance of Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the effect of which has been to take the City a step closer to securing a quality education for all students in Los Angeles. Saenz also served as the lead liaison on labor negotiations, with a goal of addressing serious financial challenges in partnership with the City's workers.

Previously, Saenz conducted civil rights litigation at MALDEF for 12 years. During that time, he was a leader in the successful challenge to California's unconstitutional Proposition 187, and he led numerous civil rights cases in the areas of immigrants' rights, education, employment, and voting rights. Saenz achieved several victories against ordinances unlawfully restricting the rights of day laborers, served as lead counsel in the 2001 challenge to California's congressional redistricting, and initiated the employment discrimination lawsuit resulting in a $50 million settlement with Abercrombie and Fitch. He served as MALDEF's lead counsel in two court challenges to Proposition 227, a California English-only education initiative. Saenz was also the lead drafter of the Amicus brief on behalf of Latino organizations supporting affirmative action in the Supreme Court case, Grutter v. Bollinger.

Aracely Muñoz Petrich
Commissioner, ABA Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights & Responsibilities

Aracely Muñoz Petrich serves as a commissioner of the American Bar Association's Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities. The commission, established as a presidential initiative in 2010 by ABA Past-President Stephen N. Zack, is tasked with exploring and reporting on the urgent legal issues and responsibilities facing the Latino population.

Aracely currently serves as associate general counsel and director of Large Law Programs for the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), a global bar association that serves more than 30,000 in-house lawyers employed by over 10,000 organizations in more than 75 countries. Prior to joining ACC, she served as the director of the ABA's Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession and the Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities. As director of these entities she was responsible for managing all aspects of their daily operations, as well as developing and implementing a wide array of legal education programs, professional development workshops, public outreach, legal research and policy initiatives.

Before her role at the ABA, Aracely was an assistant corporation counsel for the City of Chicago's Department of Law, which serves the Mayor, the City Council and the over 40 client departments, boards and commissions. Earlier in her career, Aracely was a civil litigation attorney with the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago.

Prior to her legal career, she served as the coordinator of the University of Chicago's University Community Service Center under First Lady Michelle Obama.

Aracely received a Bachelor's and Master's degree from the University of Chicago and a J.D. from the University of Iowa. Aracely currently serves as chairperson of the University of Chicago's Latino Alumni Network as well as vice-chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee and a member of the Ethics & Professional Responsibility Committee, both of the ABA's Law Practice Management Division.

Hector Sanchez
Executive Director of LCLAA and Chair of NHLA

Hector E. Sanchez is the Executive Director of LCLAA (Labor Council for Latin American Advancement) and the Chair of NHLA (National Hispanic Leadership Agenda). He has worked in Labor, education and non-profit organizations, and has 15 years of policy, advocacy research and community outreach experience. He has become an indefatigable voice, highlighting systematic injustices against Latinos. Prior to coming to LCLAA, Sanchez was the DC-Mexico Policy Education Director at Global Exchange and he served as the Policy and Community Liaison for the Education Trust. He was also a professor of US-Mexico Relations at the Autonomous University of the City of Juarez, Mexico.

He frequently debates Latino issues on national and international media networks including NPR, CNN, CNN Español, Univision, NBC-Telemundo, TeleSur, Radio France International and Azteca America, among others. His opinions and letters have been published by NPR, The Washington Post, The Economist, Huffington Post, Common Dreams, Open Left and several Spanish-language media outlets.

Sanchez plays a central role in the national Latino leadership: he was recently elected Chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), which is comprised of the 30 leading national Latino organizations. He is also the Vice-Chair of the National Latino Coalition on Climate Change (NLCCC) and sits on the board of directors of the U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project (USLEAP).

Sanchez holds a Bachelors and Masters degree in Political Science from the University of Texas.

Watch the Latino State of the Union live stream this Thursday, February 21 at 1:30PM and follow the conversation on Twitter with #LatinoStateofUnion

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