Kate Brown and Barbara Kay Roberts, Governors of Oregon

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 9.18.20 AMYesterday Kate Brown was sworn in as Governor of Oregon. Previously she had served as Secretary of State. Since, there is no Lieutenant Governor in Oregon the Secretary of State is next in the line of succession. She was elevated to this office when Governor John Kitzhaber resigned after a scandal that disrupted his leadership. She is not the first woman to be governor of Oregon. That distinction belongs to Barbara Kay Roberts.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 9.17.57 AMGovernor Roberts was the First Woman elected as Governor and remains the only woman elected to the position of governor, since Kate Brown obtained the position through succession. Like Kate Brown, Barbara Kay Roberts had served as Secretary of State and she was the First Woman to hold that position in Oregon as well. She was also the First Woman to serve as majority leader in the Oregon House of Representatives.


Madeleine May Kunin – Governor of Vermont

     As I study first women, I am beginning to see many shared characteristics: They often have more than one first to their credit; many come from families of strong women; they often help other women to be first; they speak out about issues of concern to women; and, they use their life experiences to form their successes. Madeleine May Kunin is an archetype for these women.

 MADELEINE MAY KUNIN     The threat of the Holocaust brought Madeleine May Kunin’s family to the United States from Zurich, Switzerland. When she was later appointed U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland, she confronted the Swiss about Nazi-looted Jewish assets, while maintaining the friendship between the two countries.

Before she sought public office, she was a journalist, World’s Fair tour guide and part-time college professor. Community activities, in particular those concerning women and children, were her passion. She served in the state legislature, was lieutenant governor of the state and later was elected governor. As governor she increased funding for education, worked to protect the environment, and created affordable housing. She also initiated a program to provide health insurance for Vermont children, called Dr. Dynasaur. She created the family court system and appointed the first woman to the State Supreme Court.

She served in the Clinton administration as a U.S. deputy secretary of education and took on the overwhelming task of serving on the president’s management council to reinvent government. She streamlined the management of student loans, began an office of education technology, and worked on the Educate America Act and the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Act. She also worked on environmental issues before being appointed as Ambassador to Switzerland.

Kunin has an impressive list of firsts: the first woman to serve as chair of the Appropriations Committee in the Vermont legislature; the first (and only) woman to be elected governor of the state of Vermont; the first Jewish woman to be elected governor of any state in this country; and the first woman to serve three terms as governor of any state.

Madeleine May Kunin has served as fellow at a number of prestigious institutions. Currently she lectures on women, politics, and leadership in the history and women’s studies departments at the University of Vermont in Burlington where she is the Marsh Scholar Professor-at-Large. She also serves as President of the board of the Institute for Sustainable Communities, a non-governmental organization she founded in 1991.

When she was inaugurated as governor, Kunin said she “felt a powerful link with the women in my family who had been strong in their time and place and would have achieved what I had achieved if the same doors had been open to them.”


Read a Bio: http://www.madeleinekunin.org/Biography.html

Visit her Website: http://www.madeleinekunin.org

Her Books: The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work and Family; Pearls, Politics, and Power: How women can Win and Lead; Living a Political Life, and The big green book: A four-season guide to Vermont.


Madeleine May Kunin described her inauguration: “As I walked into the crowded House Chamber. . .A group of women. . .were cheering from the balcony. The sound of applause—not just for me but for women rising to a position of power—reverberated through the hall, like the sound of an orchestra.” Have you ever experienced that feeling of connection to other women?


Susana Martinez – Governor of New Mexico

          Although liberal organizations decry Susana Martinez’ policies, her approval rating in the state of New Mexico has never fallen below 60%. Even 44% of state Democrats, the party she left to join the Republicans, give her a favorable rating.

SUSANA MARTINEZ PHOTOSusana Martinez was the first female governor of New Mexico (a position she still holds) and the first Latina governor in United States history. In her youth she set her sights on leadership and academic achievement. She served as student body president in high school and graduated as an honors student.

In college she studied criminal justice, while working for her father. Martinez’ father had been a Golden Gloves boxer in the Marines and later a deputy sheriff. Her mother was an office assistant. With an investment of $400, her parents built a security firm, her mother doing the books at the kitchen table at night, and Susana patrolling the parking lot at Catholic Church bingos. After completing her law degree, she moved to New Mexico where she was elected District Attorney in Doña Ana County. She was re-elected three times, running unopposed the last time. Twice named New Mexico’s “Prosecutor of the Year” her primary focus was on cases in involving public corruption and child abuse.

As governor her priorities are: education, balancing the budget, transparency and ethics in government, and safety. She has received a number of honors:

Heart magazine named her Woman of the Year for her efforts on behalf of children (2008).

Hispanic Business Magazine named her Woman of the Year for her efforts to reduce taxes, create jobs, promote business and improve the state’s fiscal condition (2011)

Time Magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world (2013)

The Governor also supports veteran’s causes and encourages movie and TV production companies to hire veterans for all productions in New Mexico. Her work for children and literacy continues.


View the Governor’s website at: http://www.governor.state.nm.us

For photos of the Governor at work: http://governor.state.nm.us/Photos.aspx

To see her speech at the Republican Convention in 2012:



Which values learned from your parents guided your future choices?