On Jan. 9, Hilda L. Solis submitted her resignation as U.S. Secretary of Labor, telling her fellow Department of Labor employees that she is “proud of our work on behalf of the nation's working families.” Solis’s resignation comes only weeks after EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced her own resignation on Dec. 27, 2012.

"Leaving the department is one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made, because I have taken our mission to heart. As the daughter of parents who worked in factories, paid their union dues and achieved their goal of a middle class life, and as the first Latina to head a major federal agency, it has been an incredible honor to serve,” Solis wrote in a Jan. 9 letter to Department of Labor employees.

Prior to her appointment as Secretary of Labor, Solis represented the 32nd Congressional District of California in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2001-2009, and she also served 8 years in the California state legislature. She became the first woman to receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2000, when she was recognized for her pioneering work on environmental justice issues in California.

In her Jan. 9 letter, Solis highlighted key achievements the Department of Labor has made in the last 4 years, including playing a role in the federally funded job training programs that were completed by 1.7 million people; investing in community colleges to help these institutions provide local, flexible, employer-specific job training; administering more than $67 billion for unemployment insurance benefits, job training and placement and worker protection under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; fostering efforts to help women and homeless veterans; encouraging businesses to see the value of hiring returning military service members; and more.

"And I am particularly proud to say that, as a result of our enforcement efforts, we have saved workers' lives,” Solis added.

She pointed out that 2011 saw the fewest-ever fatalities in mining, and that workplace fatalities in general industry and construction are at historic lows. During her tenure, Solis took a particular interest in the health and safety risks faced by Latino construction workers and formed the National Action Summit for Latino Worker Health and Safety.

In a Jan. 9 statement, Obama called Solis “a tireless champion for working families.”

“Her efforts have helped train workers for the jobs of the future, protect workers’ health and safety and put millions of Americans back to work,” Obama said. “I am grateful to Secretary Solis for her steadfast commitment and service not only to the Administration, but on behalf of the American people. I wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”

Solis’s departure continues to fuel speculation surrounding OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels and whether he will choose or be asked to stay on for President Obama’s second term.