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Janis F. Kearney

U.S. secretary of energy, was born Hazel Reid in Newport News, Virginia, the youngest of two daughters of Dr. Russell E. Reid, and a mother about whom little is known, except that she was also a physician. Hazel and her sister, Edna, were raised in Newport News by their father and stepmother, Hazel Palleman Reid, in a loving and supportive environment that encouraged a solid education, independence, and compassion for others. Hazel's grandmother, founder of Newport News's only black public library, kept a box of clean and neatly packed clothes on her back porch for neighbors to take as needed.

O Leary s life lessons began in the Reid household and continued with her elementary and middle school teachers at the segregated public schools in Newport News where she was a star pupil Although the Reid sisters led sheltered childhoods their parents also encouraged their independence ...


Anne M. Heutsche

In one unprecedented moment, President Bill Clinton altered the face of the United States government. He named four African Americans to his cabinet—Hazel O’Leary, Ronald Brown, Jesse Brown, and Alphonso Michael Espy. This was the first time in U.S. history that four African Americans had served in a presidential cabinet. Furthermore, Hazel O’Leary became the first woman to serve as secretary of energy. Clinton appointed O’Leary to the problem-plagued Department of Energy based on her twenty years of experience in both the private and public sectors of fuel and energy industries. In control of an $18 billion budget, O’Leary soon emerged as one of the most influential and powerful women in not only Washington, DC, but throughout the world.

Hazel Rollins Reid was born to two physicians. The couple divorced when Hazel was eighteen months old and the responsibility of her upbringing fell upon her father, Russell ...