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