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date: 14 August 2020

O’Leary, Hazel R. locked

(b. 17 May 1937), former secretary of energy.
  • 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 ...

A version of this article originally appeared in Black Women in America, 2nd ed.

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