Elaine Chao, the first Asian-Pacific American woman to serve in a President's cabinet in American history, has led two cabinet posts as U. S. Secretary of Labor and U. S. Secretary of Transportation. She is also the longest serving Cabinet Secretary since World War II.
At the U. S. Department of Transportation, Secretary Chao focused on keeping our nation’s transportation system safe and efficient; invested over $300 billion in infrastructure over three and a half years; and, promoted American innovation in autonomous vehicles, drones, commercial space and supersonic jets. During the COVID-19 health crisis, Secretary Chao’s decisive actions kept America’s transportation networks safe and moving.
As U.S. Secretary of Labor, Secretary Chao focused on increasing the competitiveness of America’s workforce in a global economy. She set new records for workplace safety and health, led the passage of Pension Protection Act of 2006, implemented union transparency and recovered record back wages for workers.
Prior to becoming U. S. Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao was President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of America, where she restored public trust by reforming the governance structure and instilling a new culture of accountability and transparency after the organization had been tarnished by previous financial mismanagement and abuse.
As head of the Peace Corps, she launched programs in the newly liberated Baltic nations and former Soviet Union. She began her public service working in the Reagan White House. She was promoted in rapid succession to Deputy Maritime Administrator, U. S. Department of Transportation; Chairman, Federal Maritime Commission; and, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation. Elaine has also worked as a banker in New York and San Francisco.
Elaine was a director on numerous public boards while out of government. She has also been a director on many private and nonprofit boards, including Harvard Business School Board of Dean’s Advisors and Global Advisory Board and a trustee of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
An immigrant who arrived at the age of 8 not speaking English, she received her citizenship at age 19. Elaine earned her undergraduate degree in economics from Mount Holyoke College, and her MBA from Harvard Business School. Please visit her website: www.elainechao.com.