Elaine Chao is currently the 18th U.S. Secretary of Transportation. She was confirmed January 31, 2017. Previously, she served as the 24th U. S. Secretary of Labor from 2001-2009 and was the first women of Asian decent to be appointed to a President’s cabinet. As a long time member of the Republican party, Elaine focused on espousing the GOP party’s ideals everyday in her position as Secretary of Transportation.
Born Taipei, Taiwan to Chinese parents who left China following the Chinese Civil War, Elaine arrived in this country when she was only 8 years old. She came to this country speaking no English and Elaine and her parents worked hard to become citizens and Elaine received her citizenship at 19 years old. A very proud day for Elaine that would ultimately send her on a successful path that would lead the way to the White House.
Education has always been a very high priority for Elaine. Elaine attended Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. During her junior year of college, she went to Dartmouth to study banking. She later received her MBA from Harvard University. Because of her outstanding commitment to public service, many prestigious institutions in this nation have recognized her efforts. She has received a total of 37 honorary degrees.
Her early career in politics began in 1986 when Elaine became the Deputy Administrator of the Maritime Administration in the U.S. Department of Transportation. She then served as the Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission from 1988 until 1989. President George H. W. Bush nominated Chao to be Deputy Secretary of Transportation in 1989 that she then served in the position until1991. She then became the Director of the Peace Corp until 1992.
After serving under George H.W. Bush, She was brought on as the President and CEO of United Way America. She was hired to help after a financial mismanagement scandal involving the former president. She worked hard to help bring back a sense of credibility and trust to a organization that had a badly damaged reputation.
She decided to come back to public service and she served as the U.S. Secretary of Labor from 2001 until 2009. She was the only cabinet member to serve under all eight years of George W. Bush. At the time, she was the longest serving Secretary of Labor.
After 2009, Elaine came back to the Heritage Foundation as a Distinguished Fellow. She was previously there from 1996 until about 2001. During this time she also was a contributor on Fox News and other media outlets. She served as a director on numerous corporate and non-profit boards. In 2011 she was awarded the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service.
President Trump announced his nomination for Elaine on November 29th, 2016 and on January 31st, 2017, she was confirmed with a vote of 93-6.
Elaine is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
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