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Mon, 05.17.1937

Hazel O’Leary, an opinionated administrator

Hazel O'Leary

*Hazel O'Leary was born on this date in 1937. She is an African American politician and administrator.

Hazel Rollins O'Leary was born in Newport News, Virginia; she graduated from the former segregated Huntington High School of Newport News. O’Leary received her Bachelor's degree in history and government from Fisk University in 1959; and her law degree from Rutgers University in 1966. O'Leary worked as a prosecutor in the state of New Jersey and was later a partner in the accounting firm of Coopers & Lybrand. During the Jimmy Carter administration,

O'Leary was assistant administrator of the Federal Energy Administration, general counsel of the Community Services Administration, and administrator of the Economic Regulatory Administration at the newly-created Department of Energy. In 1981, O'Leary established with her husband the consulting firm of O'Leary & Associates, serving as vice president and general counsel. From 1989 to 1993, she worked as an executive vice president of the Northern States Power Company. Also O'Leary was nominated to be Secretary of Energy in 1993 by President Bill Clinton.

During this time, she was often accused of traveling too frequently and spending lavishly on her accommodations. She apologized to Congressional committees in 1996 for spending which exceeded limits on the funds appropriated for travel and resigned in January 1997. It was later revealed that Chinagate scandal figure Johnny Chung claimed that O'Leary met with Chinese oil officials after Chung had donated $25,000 to O'Leary's favorite charity Africare.

Currently, O'Leary serves as President of Fisk University in Nashville.
Her honors and affiliations have included: Board of directors, UAL Corp. (parent company of United Airlines), Alchemix Corp., Scottish Re Ltd., AES Corp. and World Wildlife Fund; Board of Trustees and co-chair, The Campaign for a New Century, Morehouse College; Phi Beta Kappa O'Leary is widowed. She has one son, Carl Rollins, 43, an attorney in Washington, D.C.

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