[Excerpt] Linda Chavez-Thompson is the executive vice-president of the AFL-CIO and the highest ranking elected woman officer in the labor federation's I IO-year history. She rose from the organizing ranks of The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees to achieve a distinguished career as a national labor leader and representative of public-sector employees. A second generation Mexican-American, her work life began at age ten laboring with her parents, ten-hour days at thirty cents an hour: in the cotton fields of West Texas. Before assuming one of the three highest leadership positions within the AFL-CIO, she directed AFSCME’s efforts in a seven-state region which included Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah, and guided the union through a period of growth and expansion. Her voice and accomplishment have been recognized through numerous distinctions ranging from an honorary degree from Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts, to appointments by President Clinton to the President’s Initiative on Race and as vice-chair of the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. She serves on several national boards and executive committees, including The United Way, the Council on Competitiveness, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, The National Conference for Community and Justice, and the Institute for Women's Policy Research. She is vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee, former national vice-president of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, and co-chair of the Coalition to Defend America's Working Families. She speaks from her heart, her experience and her common sense—and she always speaks her mind.