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.

Martha McSally – First in Combat

AP Photo

AP Photo

After the election earlier this fall, Republican Martha McSally was ahead of her competitor Democrat Ron Barber, the current representative, by less than 200 votes. A recount was conducted and, six weeks later, McSally was still ahead—by 167 votes. Her opponent conceded, and she will represent Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District in the next Congress.

McSally is a retired Air Force with two impressive military firsts:

–the first woman to fly in combat

–the first woman to command a fighter squadron

Although these are impressive, even more impressive is her battle against the military hierarchy. She filed a lawsuit that forced the Pentagon to end the requirement that U.S. servicewomen cover themselves in traditional Islamic clothing while off-base in Saudi Arabia.

Election History for First Woman To. . .2014

JONI ERNSTIt’s hard to believe it took until 2014, but Iowa just elected its first woman to serve in Congress. Joni Ernest won her seat by casting herself as a “farm girl” who was comfortable castrating pigs.


In Utah, Mia Love was the first black female Republican elected to the House—ever, in the history of the Republican Party. She will be part of the 10% of Republicans in the Congress who are women.


ELISE STEFANIKWhen Elise Stefanik was elected to Congress this week, she became the youngest woman ever elected, making her the first female thirty-year old to serve. The record for the youngest female member of the House was held previously by Democrat Elizabeth Holtzman, who was 31 when she was sworn in. Her record has stood since 1979.

Also this week, the President nominated Loretta Lynch to be Attorney General of the United States. If she obtains the post she will be the first African-American woman to hold the post, following the first African-American man to serve as Attorney General.

A man also made The First Woman To. . .history book this week.

In 2012 Scott Brown ran for the US Senate in Massachusetts and lost to Elizabeth Warren.ELIZABETH WARREN


This year he ran for the US Senate in New Hampshire and lost to Jeanne Shaheen.JEANNE SHAHEEN


As Emily’s List celebrated in an email. “Scott Brown made feminist history. He lost two Senate races in two states to Democratic women. That’s pretty awesome.”


Please note: The photos for the new representatives were taken from their official campaign websites; photos for the senators are from their official senate websites.


Mary Jo White – S.E.C. CHAIR

MARY JO WHITE          Another of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2014 was Mary Jo White, head of the Securities and Exchange Commission. She is on the First Woman To.  . . list because she was the first woman to serve as a U.S. Attorney in Manhattan. In fact, she is the only woman in 200 years who has ever served in that position.

She has decades of experience as a federal prosecutor and securities lawyer, specializing in complex securities and financial institution fraud as well as cases of international terrorism. Prior to her confirmation at SEC the Huffington Post called her “a well-respected attorney who won high-profile cases against mobsters, terrorists, and financial fraudsters over the course of nearly a decade as the U. S. Attorney for Manhattan.” Under her auspices, convictions against the 1993 bombers of the World Trade Center and the bombers of the American embassies in Africa were prosecuted successfully, as was John Gotti.

Because she wants to change disclosure requirements and perhaps streamline them for corporations, some say she is too ready to support corporations. They point to her private practice where she supported corporations in litigation. Others, however, cite this experience as a balance that makes her able to see both sides of the issues.

One of the things she would like to change is the “no admit, no deny” statements from offenders. She believes that those who violate the law, even corporations, should have to apologize as part of their plea deals.

In his book Above the Law, Elie Mystal says that she is “the kind of partner that makes other partners stammer, shuffle papers, and try to look really busy and intelligent when she’s in the room. She’s not a screamer, she’s not mean or dismissive. She’s just deadly serious and committed to getting things done.”


Her official SEC bio: https://www.sec.gov/about/commissioner/white.htm#.U5i5exb82lI

Her efforts to implement changes at SEC: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-06-06/mary-jo-white-gets-high-frequency-embrace-with-sec-plan.html

For more on the Time 100: http://time.com/time100-2014/

Donna Shalala – Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison

In every community, whether large of small, there are people who lead in their community in easy and difficult times. [Donna Shalala]

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 4.56.43 PM        Donna Shalala was the first woman to head a Big Ten school, but she may be better known for holding a cabinet position. Shalala was the longest serving U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).

After earning a bachelor’s degree in history, Donna Shalala spent two years in the Peace Corps. She says she wanted to “save the world,” a sentiment many in her generation can recognize. She also wanted to “see the world.” The portion of the world she saw was a mud village in Iran where she helped build an agricultural college.

She returned to the United States to earn her Master’s and doctorate degrees from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She remained in academics, teaching and later serving as President of Hunter College. She then served as Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, all while engaging in public service.

In 1993 Bill Clinton tapped her to serve as Secretary of HHS. She was the first Arab-American to serve in a Cabinet position. During her tenure she managed reform of welfare programs, improved the FDA’s approval process, and improved food safety systems. For children, she provided health insurance to millions, expanded Head Start and improved child immunization rates. For women, she established shelters and created mortgage credits. For all, she expanded AIDS research and supported anti-discrimination legislation. The Washington Post described her as “one of the most successful government managers of modern times.”

President George W. Bush also recognized her expertise and selected Shalala for the Commission on Care for Returning Wounded Warriors, asking her to co-chair the panel with Senator Bob Dole. President Bush awarded her the Medal of Freedom.

Now President of the University of Miami, she draws on her experience as HHS Secretary and teaches a course on the American healthcare system each spring semester. She has numerous awards and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2011.

Many of us wish we were taller, so that we might engage men eye-to-eye. Donna Shalala, at only five feet tall, shows that a women’s stature need not be an encumbrance.


On-Line Biographies: http://www.miami.edu/index.php/about_us/leadership/office_of_the_president/president_donna_e_shalalas_biography/ and https://www.greatwomen.org/women-of-the-hall/search-the-hall/details/2/251-Shalala

An Interview: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/clinton/interviews/shalala.html


        Is managing well a form of leadership?