Thomas Edward "Tom" Perez (born October 7, 1961) is an American politician, consumer advocate, and civil rights lawyer who is the current United States Secretary of Labor. A member of the Democratic Party, Perez has served as the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice. Born in Buffalo, New York, Perez is a graduate of Brown University and Harvard Law School. He worked as a law clerk for the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado before serving in the Department of Justice from 1989 to 1995, where he worked as a federal prosecutor, and as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights under Attorney General Janet Reno. He worked as a Special Counselor for Senator Ted Kennedy until 1998 when he served as the Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the final years of the Clinton administration. Perez was then elected to the Montgomery County (Maryland) Council in 2002, serving as the council's president from 2005, until the end of his tenure in 2006. He attempted to run for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General of Maryland, but was disqualified for not having 10 years of legal experience in Maryland (he was admitted to the Maryland bar in 2001). Perez was appointed by Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley to serve as Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation in January 2007, until his October 2009 confirmation by the United States Senate as Assistant Attorney General. On March 18, 2013, Perez was nominated by President Barack Obama to be the United States Secretary of Labor, replacing outgoing Secretary Hilda Solis. He was confirmed by the Senate on July 18 and sworn in on July 23, 2013.