Meet Elaine Chao

Meet Elaine Chao

Elaine Chao is Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Transportation. She immigrated to America when she was 8 years old. Chao has served under two Republican presidents already, and was the first Asian-American woman cabinet member. She is, notably, the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), who has said he would not abstain from voting for her confirmation. She is 63 years old.

Elaine Chao, DOL portrait

Elaine Chao

Confirmation

Chao’s confirmation hearing was Jan. 11.  At it, Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida) said he looked forward to her being a part of the new administration. She promised to keep senators aware of plans for infrastructure overhaul Trump has said was a priority. She also said she would work with Congress on a system to prevent train collisions. To help fund projects, she suggested public-private partnerships.

Education

She earned a BA in Economics from Mount Holyoke College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Experience

Before going into public life, Chao worked in banking. While working with Citicorp, Chao was granted a White House Fellowship, which gives people experience with what happens in the federal government and encourages increased participation in national affairs. The fellows work as assistants to those who work in the White House, including the vice president and cabinet members. It seems to have paid off for her, as she has gone on to several leadership positions, including:

Deputy Administrator of the Maritime Administration, 1986-1988

Chairwoman of Federal Maritime Commission, 1988-1989

Deputy Secretary of Transportation, 1989-1991

Peace Corps Director, 1991-1992

President of United Way of America, 1996-2001

Secretary of Labor, 2001-2009

 

For more information about Chao, visit her website.

 

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