Former Colorado U.S. Attorney General Named Head of MALDEF

Henry Solano, veteran board member, to take helm of MALDEF during interim period

April 9, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA — Today, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) Board of Directors named longtime Board member Henry Solano to serve as interim president and general counsel. Solano replaces John Trasviña who was recently tapped by President Barack Obama to be the Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Trasviña served as the head of the organization since November 2006.

Solano has been an active member of the MALDEF Board with decades of litigation, public policy and advocacy experience behind him. Most recently, Solano led the Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP trial team in his firm’s pro bono litigation with MALDEF in Vicente v. Barnett to bring justice against a border vigilante in Arizona who threatened and assaulted a group of Latino men and women. He also currently chairs the Program and Planning Committee and is a member of the Executive Committee on the Board. Named one of Hispanic Business Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Hispanics, Solano is a well-respected veteran of state and national policy making and community service. Solano was a tireless advocate for safe communities and enforcing worker and workplace protection laws while serving as Colorado U.S. Attorney and Solicitor at the U.S. Department of Labor during the Clinton Administration. He began his career as a poverty law attorney emphasizing farm-worker and immigrant legal protection at Colorado Rural Legal Services, Inc which was headquartered in Denver, Colorado. He has continued his community involvement throughout his career including serving on the board of directors for the National Hispana Leadership Institute and the National Latino Children’s Institute.

Solano’s practice as a partner at Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP in New York covers a wide range of employment and labor law as well as litigation. Dewey & LeBoeuf is an international law firm headquartered in New York with more than 1,400 lawyers in 14 countries, namely the United States, United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, China, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Around the world, Dewey & LeBoeuf lawyers are engaged in a wide variety of pro bono projects; taking on large-impact civil rights litigation to advocate for those who have been historically disadvantaged; helping victims of domestic violence re-establish their footing; preventing the eviction of low income tenants; providing legal services to worthy not-for-profit organizations and microenterprises, both domestically and internationally; representing indigent defendants in criminal cases at trial and on appeal and preventing the deportation of asylum seekers who are facing persecution if they are forced to return to their native lands.

Dewey & LeBoeuf has been recognized for its efforts through Community awards including the Thomas L. Sager Award for the Northeast Region by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) (2008); named “Employer of the Year” for pro bono by the National Mentoring Consortium in the UK (2007, 2008); and Pro Bono Visionary Award by Legal Services NYC (2008); and receiving the Latino Justice/Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund “Pro Bono Publico Award” for its involvement in a potentially landmark federal lawsuit alleging that the rights of Latino day laborers were violated in Westchester County.

“Today, the Latino community is facing uncertainty on varied fronts: fair wages, access to higher education, healthcare, voting rights and more. In these times, MALDEF’s work through our offices and attorneys across the nation has proven to be the difference for thousands of Latino families,” stated MALDEF Chairman of the Board Patricia Madrid. “Under the leadership and experience of Henry Solano we will continue to stand strong against intolerance and injustice toward Latinos.”

The MALDEF Board also announced that it would undertake a national search for a permanent successor. Solano is not a candidate for the position.

About Henry Solano
Prior to assuming the temporary position as Interim President and General Counsel of MALDEF, Henry L. Solano was a Partner at Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP in the Litigation and Compensation, Benefits and Employment Departments. With extensive litigation experience in the private sector, representing fortune 100 companies, and in the public sector with the U.S. Departments of Justice and Labor and the Attorney General's Office for the State of Colorado, Mr. Solano has handled numerous complex matters, developing effective and successful trial and appellate strategies. He also has a breadth of policymaking and public sector management experience on both the federal and state level. Mr. Solano served the U.S. Departments of Justice and Labor under President Clinton as, respectively, Colorado U.S. Attorney and Solicitor of Labor and Acting Secretary of Labor. He served as a Colorado Cabinet Member under Governor Roy Romer, leading three departments - twice running two simultaneously - when the Republican Party held majorities in both legislative houses. Mr. Solano has also served as a professor at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, lecturing on public sector policy development and department/agency management.

Throughout his public career, Mr. Solano has been involved in providing effective and strategic legal and policy reform, effectuating change, improving coordination and collaboration, and enhancing program and service delivery. For the Departments of Justice and Labor, Mr. Solano developed a specialized and improved appellate (and conflicts counsel) practice; worker and workplace protection policies and enforcement initiatives; and enhanced litigation enforcement among regional and national litigation offices. Throughout his entire public sector management career he has improved the amount and quality of diverse attorneys and staff at all levels, including senior management, while also broadening career ladder opportunity for support staff. As U.S. Attorney, Mr. Solano implemented job sharing among female prosecutors beginning to raise a family and expanded federal legal services by, unprecedentedly, opening two branch U.S. Attorney Offices in the rural and Native American regions of Colorado.

As the Executive Director of the Colorado Departments of Regulatory Agencies, Institutions and Corrections, Mr. Solano oversaw the response to Savings & Loan crisis, converting 24 state chartered financial institutions to FDIC and /or FSLIC protection, while limiting the closure of state chartered savings & loan institutions to less than eight; restructured service delivery in both the mental health and developmental systems, removing the developmental services program from federal court supervision; and revamped the juvenile delinquency and social services system to improve and increase early childhood and youth services/intervention programs. In addition, Mr. Solano developed and initiated the omnibus legislative bill that led to comprehensive adult prison funding, including a needed construction program that provided appropriate multi level prison beds, improved inmate classification and sentencing systems, and increased diversion and post confinement offender services, allowing the correctional system to be removed from federal court supervision.

Mr. Solano has maintained strong community involvement as a member and officer (President or Chairperson) of the Board of Directors for community and religious organizations such as the Parish Council of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, the Denver Metropolitan Regional Transportation District, the National Latino Children's Institute, the National Hispana Leadership Institute, Mile Hi United Way and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund