Nancy Pelosi, First Female Speaker of the House
Nancy Pelosi is the Majority Leader in the United States House of Representatives. In 2007 she became the 60th Speaker of the House and the first female Speaker in American history, a position she held until 2011. She represents California’s 8th District as a member of the Democratic Party. Pelosi was born in Baltimore, Md. in 1940 to an influential political family. Her father, Thomas D’Alesandro II, was a U.S. Congressman and the Mayor of Baltimore. Her brother, Thomas D’ Alesandro III, was also Mayor of Baltimore between 1967 an 1971.
Pelosi graduated from Trinity College in Washington, D.C. in 1962 with a degree in political science. She married her college sweetheart, Frank Pelosi, and had five children in six years between 1963 and 1969. Her political career began in earnest in 1969, when the family moved from New York to San Francisco, where her brother-in-law was a member of the City’s Board of Supervisors.
Over the next two decades, Pelosi worked her way up in California politics, eventually serving as Chair of the California Democratic Party and as a member of the Democratic National Committee. In 1985, she was narrowly defeated in a bid to become chairwoman of the DNC.
In 1987 Pelosi won a special election for the 8th District’s seat in the House, a seat that she has held ever since. She quickly became one of Congress’ strongest liberal voices on a variety of issues such as women’s reproductive rights, gay marriage, and staunchly opposing the war in Iraq. She was also one of the House’s most prolific members, serving at various times on the Appropriations Committee, the Intelligence Committee, and as the Minority Whip and Minority Leader.
On January 3rd, 2007, Pelosi became the first woman, the first Italian-American, and the first Californian to be elected Speaker of the House. She served through 2011, when Democrats ceded control of the House following the 2010 midterm election. She now serves as House Majority Leader.