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Cherie Killian Berry was sworn in as North Carolina's first female labor commissioner on Jan. 6, 2001.

Berry, a native of Catawba County, is the former business owner of LGM, Ltd., a company that produces spark plug wires for the automotive industry.

Employee safety is Berry's top priority. "I want to make North Carolina's work climate as safe as possible," Berry said. "There is a world of potential for this agency and for businesses across North Carolina. I am eager to see what we can accomplish."

Berry also believes the department and its 450 employees should strive for a "value-added" approach to government while serving North Carolina taxpayers.

"We want businesses and workers across the state to benefit from our presence," she said.

In 2005, the N.C. Manufacturer's Association awarded Berry the Chairman's Award for her outstanding contributions and dedicated service to the business community and citizens of North Carolina. Berry also was named the 2004 State Official of the Year by the National Home Builders Association. The award recognizes her strong commitment to safety and health in the home building industry. In 2003, Berry received the "Build with the Best" Pinnacle Award from the Carolinas Associated General Contractors for her contributions to the betterment of the construction industry and to the economic welfare of North Carolina.

Berry served in the N.C. House of Representatives from 1993 to 2000, representing the state's 45th district. The district encompasses portions of Catawba, Gaston, and Lincoln counties. During her tenure in the House, Berry served as chair of the Welfare Reform Committee and co-chair of the Commerce Committee. She also served as a member of several other committees, including Pensions and Retirement, Campaign Finance and Election Laws and Mental Health. Subcommittee work included Capitol Budget and Cultural Resources. 

In 1997, Commissioner Berry received the "Friend of Working People" award from the N.C. AFL-CIO. She also received the National Federation of Independent Business "Guardian of Small Business Award" in 1998.

Commissioner Berry has also served on several state boards and commissions. They include N.C. Economic Development Board; chair of the State Welfare Reform Study Commission; the Blue Ribbon Task Force on the issue of potential impact of federal block grant funding and other federal actions on Medicaid in North Carolina; Mental Health Study Commission, Advisory Committee on Family-Centered Services; and Joint Legislative Study Commission on Job Training Programs. 

Commissioner Berry was born in Newton. She is the daughter of Lena Carrigan Killian and the late Earl Killian. Berry is married to Norman H. Berry Jr. The couple has four children.

The N.C. Department of Labor is charged by statute with promoting the "health, safety, and general well-being" of more than four million workers across the state. The laws and programs it administers affect every worker — and virtually every person — in the state.

The Constitution of North Carolina provides for the election of a commissioner of labor every four years. The commissioner is head of the Department of Labor and also serves as a member of the Council of State. North Carolina law gives the commissioner broad regulatory authority and enforcement powers to carry out the department's duties to the people.



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