Trinity Graduate Nancy Pelosi ’62 Makes History as the First Woman Elected Speaker of the House
As the 110th U.S. Congress convened in January 2007, Trinity graduate and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi ’62 made history as she was sworn in as Speaker of the House. Pelosi is first woman to hold this powerful leadership position. Her name is now etched in history as it is added to the roster of 51 male Speakers of the House. She wields the gavel of the most powerful legislative position in the nation. She is second in the line of presidential succession, after the vice president of the United States.
Congresswoman Pelosi’s election by her Democratic peers to be Speaker of the House comes after 20 years of outstanding service and leadership as a member of Congress representing California’s Eighth District. Overwhelmingly elected by her colleagues in the fall of 2002 as Democratic Leader of the House of Representatives, she became the first woman in American history to lead a major party in the U.S. Congress. Before being elected Leader, she served as House Democratic Whip for one year and was responsible for the party’s legislative strategy in the House. On November 16, 2006, Nancy Pelosi was unanimously elected by the Democratic Caucus as Speaker-designate.
The November elections yielded an election victory for another Trinity woman: Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius ’70 was elected to a second term, just one of only eight women governors currently in office among the 50 states. In more than 200 years of American history, only 25 women have ever served as governors. Time magazine named Governor Sebelius as one of the five most effective governors in the nation in 2005. She is widely respected for her leadership and skill in building a bipartisan coalition in the state and was recently elected chair of the Democratic Governor’s Association — the first woman to hold this position.
Both women are exemplary leaders and respected for their commitment to public service. As a university committed to the education and advancement of women in society, Trinity celebrates the success of these two women as the latest exemplars of women’s leadership potential. Women’s colleges around the nation join Trinity in rejoicing in their success and affirming the continuing vitality of our important educational mission for women in today’s world.
Pelosi speaks frequently about how much she appreciates her education at Trinity, a women’s college in Washington, D.C., (that today is a university) and credits her college experience with influencing her political career and public service.
As a student at Trinity, Pelosi majored in political science and was active in the Political Affairs Club, International Relations Club, Dramatic Society and French Club.
In an interview with the Trinity magazine, she reflected on her college years: “I loved Trinity College. It was an absolute joy to go there. We were in Washington, D.C., so I was active with the College Democrats. All of us, we felt very nurtured at Trinity. Our friendships are stronger today than they were then. My best friends from Trinity are still my best friends.”
Trinity honored both Congresswoman Pelosi and Governor Sebelius in 2003. Many Trinity students have completed internships in Pelosi’s office on Capitol Hill.
Left to right: Peggy O’Brien ’69, Chair of the Trinity Board of Trustees, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius ’70, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi ’62, Trinity President Patricia McGuire ’74