Linda Chavez bigraphy, stories - American political commentator

Linda Chavez : biography

17 June 1947 -

Linda Lou ChavezStated on Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., May 20, 2012, PBS (born June 17, 1947) is an American author, commentator, and radio talk show host. She is also a Fox News analyst, Chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity, has a syndicated column that appears in newspapers nationwide each week, and sits on the Board of Directors of two Fortune 1000 companies: Pilgrims Pride and ABM Industries Inc. Chavez was the highest-ranking woman in President Ronald Reagan's White House, and was the first Latina ever nominated to the United States Cabinet, when President George W. Bush nominated her Secretary of Labor. She withdrew from consideration for the position when it emerged that she had employed an illegal immigrant.

Background with labor unions

Starting in 1975, Chavez was employed within the inner circles of the United States second largest teachers' union, the American Federation of Teachers, where she was responsible for editing that organization's publications. She was a confidante of Al Shanker, the AFT's president. While she believed in President Shanker's personal philosophy of trade unionism, she eventually came to feel that many in the organization were intent on moving the union in another direction after Shanker's inevitable departure. She later wrote that the more she learned about the goals of these newer union leaders, the less comfortable she felt in the organization. She left the AFT in 1983.

Early life and family

Chavez was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the daughter of Velma Lucy (née McKenna) and Rudolfo Enrique Chavez, a house painter. She is of Spanish descent on her father's side (her father was descended from immigrants to what is now New Mexico from Spain in the 17th century; his family had lived in New Mexico for several hundred years, and one of his ancestors was a Governor of New Mexico while it was still under Mexican control). Her mother was of English and Irish ancestry. Chavez earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado in 1970. She attended graduate school at UCLA.

She is married to Christopher Gersten, former Bush Administration official, and is the mother of three adult sons, David, Pablo, and Rudy. She is a grandmother of nine and resides with her family in Boulder, Colorado. Chavez was raised Catholic and converted to Judaism when marrying her husband. She later returned to Catholicism. Some of Chavez's distant paternal ancestors had been Conversos (Sephardic Jews who converted to Catholicism).

Columnist and commentator

Beginning July 1, 1990, Chavez was paired with Bonnie Erbé in the "Our Turn" op-ed column syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate. From opposing ideological viewpoints, the two columnists addressed topics of current interest, questions such as whether the glass ceiling was a myth, whether American women should serve in combat, and whether surrogate motherhood should be banned. In 1991, Erbé, Chavez and the "Our Turn" column were picked up by Creators Syndicate. They continued to field polarizing political questions related to women and gender such as whether men's clubs should continue to be allowed to exclude women.

Chavez published her first book, Out of the Barrio: toward a new politics of Hispanic assimilation, in 1991. She wrote that American Hispanics should not have followed the same path as African Americans, seeking compensation for discrimination via affirmative action. She wrote that Hispanics should assimilate themselves and use the English language in mainstream society.

Chavez quit PBS's To the Contrary after a May 12, 2000, incident when the host, Erbé, made the claim on air that, at her age, Chavez was more likely to be hit by lightning than raped. The comment was made during a discussion on gun control and whether it was necessary for Chavez to obtain a gun to defend herself against a potential rape. Chavez and Erbé argued on the opposite sides of the gun ownership issue. After an absence of more than seven years, Chavez returned to the program on January 18, 2008 and is listed as a panelist on its website.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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