"Some of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s detractors are asking how he made his money. 

The answer is: the old-fashioned way. He earned it in the private sector where he spent more years of his adult life than he did in the public sector before he was elected United States senator in 2002. 

The example I know best is his co-founding of Corporate Child Care Inc., which later merged with its competitor and became the world’s largest provider of worksite day care. 

In 1987, when his terms as governor ended, five of us — Lamar, wife Honey, Brad Martin, Bob Keeshan (television’s Captain Kangaroo) and I — started Corporate Child Care. I was chief executive officer. Ten years later, it became publicly traded on NASDAQ and later merged with what is today Bright Horizons Inc. 

Anyone who knows Sen. Alexander as well as I do knows that he was successful in the private sector for the same reason he has been successful in the public sector: He has a unique talent for seeing a problem and finding a way to solve it. 

In the case of worksite day care, Lamar as governor saw a serious problem for working families trying to juggle two jobs and find child care in an increasingly fast-paced world. After he left office, he thought about the problem, and together we came up with a smart private-sector solution. 

That risky venture turned into a whopping success because we identified an urgent need. We provided high-quality child care at a reasonable cost at a convenient place. Working mothers and fathers flocked to it. 

He also put his problem-solving ability to work in the private sector, co-founding a Nashville law firm and serving on major boards of directors of private companies, including Martin-Marietta and First Tennessee and our own company. 

These same skills made him successful in the public sector, for example, as governor seeing the opportunity to recruit the auto industry to Tennessee and then bringing in Nissan and General Motors, followed by hundreds of suppliers. He and Honey saw the needs of Tennessee children and created the Healthy Children initiative. He was an outstanding University of Tennessee president, U.S. education secretary and was elected by his colleagues three times as chairman of the Republican Caucus. 

I am proud to have built such a wonderful company with Sen. Alexander. Those trying to tarnish his business record are also tarnishing me, the late Bob Keeshan and everyone else who put their names and livelihoods on the line to take a risk on a business venture that has benefited so many working families. 

The venture was a huge risk for all of us. And I don’t like to see our success — and the sweat that I poured into this company — cheapened by those who try to ignore or diminish Lamar’s role in the company. 

At a time when for many Americans finding a good job is the biggest problem, I like having a United States senator who knows what it is to take a risk, create jobs and try to solve that problem. 

Marguerite (Sallee) Kondracke has been CEO of Corporate Child Care Inc., Bright Horizons Inc. and America’s Promise. She served as Tennessee’s commissioner of human services under then-Gov. Lamar Alexander."