The Twenty

Yesterday, the 113th U.S. Congress swore in a record-breaking 20 female senators. To me, my celebrities have always been successful women. I feel like American's all too often worship celebrities who have made no meaningful contributions to society. I wouldn't find it surprising if more Americans could name all the Kardashians than all the Supreme Court justices. These women who have been elected to the Senate, regardless of their political affiliation, have reached some of the highest positions in our government, and I figured we should all get a chance to learn a bit about them.

Lisa Murkowski 
  • Party: Republican
  • Age: 55
  • Education: Murkowski received her undergraduate degree from Georgetown and her law degree from Willamette University College of Law
  • Path to Power: Sen. Murkowski began her career as an attorney. In 1998, she was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives where she rose to the rank of House Majority Leader. Murkowski was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2002 where she is now the senior senator for Alaska.
  • Committees: Appropriations; Energy & Natural Resources; Indian Affairs; and Health, Education, Labor & Pensions.
  • Noteworthy Accomplishment: Murkowski has advocated for improved health care for Native Americans and has increased funding for Alaska's unique Native Health clinics.
California deserves a special shout-out for being one of very few states where both senators are women. Both Boxer and Feinstein were elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992 on the same ballot and jointly became California's first female Senators. 

Barbara Boxer
  • Party: Democratic
  • Age: 72
  • Education: Brooklyn College
  • Path to Power: Boxer began her career as a journalist for the Pacific Sun and as an aide for Congressman John L. Burton. Boxer was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982 using the slogan "Barbara Gives a Damn." In the House, Boxer sat on the Armed Services Committee. In 1992, Boxer was elected to the U.S. Senate where she is now the 16th most senior member and the Chief Deputy Whip of the Democratic Party.
  • Committees: Commerce, Science, & Education; Environment & Public Works (chair); Foreign Relations; and Ethics (chair)
  • Noteworthy AccomplishmentBoxer established the Excellence in Education award to recognize teachers, parents, businesses and organizations that are working to make positive changes in education
Dianne Feinstein 
  • Party: Democratic
  • Age: 79
  • Education: Feinstein is a graduate of Stanford University 
  • Path to Power: Dianne Feinstein served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors before becoming San Francisco's first female mayor. Feinstein was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992. 
  • Committees: Appropriations; Judiciary; Rules & Administration; and Intelligence
  • Noteworthy Accomplishment: Feinstein became the first woman to preside over a U.S. presidential inauguration when she acted the master of ceremonies for President Obama's inauguration in 2009. 

Mazie Hirono
  • Party: Democratic
  • Age: 65
  • Education: Hirono attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa where she earned her degree in Psychology. Hirono obtained her law degree at Georgetown Law Center.
  • Path to Power: Hirono served in the Hawaii House of Representatives prior to her eight-year tenure as Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii. Hirono was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2007.
  • Committees: Judiciary
  • Noteworthy Accomplishment: Hirono is the first Asian-American woman, Japanese native, and Buddhist (although non-practicing) elected to the U.S. Senate.

Mary Landrieu 
  • Party: Democratic
  • Age: 57
  • Education: Landrieu graduated from Louisiana State University.
  • Path to Power: Prior to entering the political arena, Landrieu worked as a real estate agent. Landrieu was elected as a state representative in 1980 and then served as the state treasurer from 1988 to 1996. Landrieu was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996. 
  • Committees: Appropriations; Energy & Natural Resources; Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs; Small Business & Entrepreneurship (chair)
  • Noteworthy AccomplishmentLandrieu voted against a measure that would have repealed a birth control mandate in the health care bill, despite her Roman Catholic beliefs

Susan Collins 
  • Party: Republican
  • Age: 60
  • Education: Collins graduated magna cum laude from St. Lawrence University with a degree in Government.
  • Path to Power: Collins worked as a legislative assistant to Representative and later Senator William Cohen. Collins later served on the cabinet of Gov. John McKernan Jr aCommissioner of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. She was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996.
  • Committees: Appropriations; Armed Services; Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs (ranking member); Aging.
  • Noteworthy AccomplishmentIn 2003, Collins was the only Republican to vote for limiting a tax cut in order to help rural hospitals.

Barbara Mikulski 
  • Party: Democratic
  • Age: 76
  • EducationMikulski attended Mount Saint Agnes College and the University of Maryland School of Social Work.
  • Path to Power: Mikulski started her career as a social worker and community organizer. She was later elected to Baltimore's city council, the the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976. She became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Maryland in 1986.
  • Committees: Appropriations (chair); Health, Education, Labor & Pensions; Intelligence.
  • Noteworthy Accomplishment: Senator Mikulski worked towards passing the Spousal Anti-Impoverishment Act. This important legislation helps keep seniors from going bankrupt while paying for a spouse’s nursing home care.
Elizabeth Warren 
  • Party: Democratic
  • Age: 63
  • Education: Warren attended The George Washington University for her undergraduate degree and obtained her law degree from Rutgers-Newark School of Law. 
  • Path to Power: Warren taught at several law schools before earning her post teaching at Harvard Law School in the 1990s. There she specialized in Bankruptcy law and consumer protection. Following the financial crisis in 2008, Warren served as chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 
  • Committees: Banking
  • Noteworthy Accomplishment: Her advocacy for consumer protection, in large part, led to the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Debbie Stabenow
  • Party: Democratic
  • Age: 62
  • Education: Stabenow attended Michigan State University for her undergraduate degree and her Masters in Social Work. 
  • Path to Power: Stabenow worked her way from the Michigan House of Representatives to the Michigan Senate, to the U.S. House of Representatives, before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000.
  • Committees: Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry (Chair); Budget; Energy & Natural Resources; and Finance
  • Noteworthy Accomplishment: Authored the first legislation to ban drilling in the Great Lakes which contain 1/5 of the world's fresh water.

Amy Klobuchar
  • Party: Democratic
  • Age: 52
  • Education: Klobuchar received her undergraduate degree in Political Science from Yale University. She later attended law school at the University of Chicago.
  • Path to Power: Klobuchar worked as the county attorney for Hennepin County. She also worked as a legal advisor to Vice-President Walter Mondale.
  • Committees: Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry; Commerce, Science, & Transportation; Judiciary; Joint Economic; 
  • Noteworthy Accomplishment: The New York Times listed Klobuchar as one of the seventeen women most likely to become the first female President of the United States. She has also been listed by MSNBC as a possible Supreme Court nominee.

Claire McCaskill
  • Party: Democratic
  • Age: 59
  • Education: McCaskill attended the University of Missouri for both her undergraduate and law degrees.
  • Path to Power: McCaskill started her career as a judicial clerk for the Missouri Court of Appeals. She later became a prosecutor specializing in arson cases. She later served in the Missouri House of Representatives and State Auditor of Missouri before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006. 
  • Committees: Armed Services; Commerce, Science, & Transportation; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; and Aging.
  • Noteworthy Accomplishment: Beating that idiot Todd Akin. 

Deb Fischer 
  • Party: Republican
  • Age: 61
  • Education: Fischer attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 
  • Path to Power: Fischer was previously a two-term member of the Nebraska legislature before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012. 
  • Committees: Not yet announced
  • Noteworthy Accomplishment: Fischer is the first female senator from Nebraska to be elected in her own right. The previous female senators served as caretakers. 

New Hampshire
New Hampshire also deserves praise for being another state where both senators are female. 

Kelly Ayotte 
  • Party: Republican 
  • Age: 44
  • Education: Ayotte attended Penn State University for her undergraduate degree in Political Science. She later attended Villanova University for law school.
  • Path to Power: Following her graduate from law school, Ayotte clerked for a year on the New Hampshire Supreme Court. Following work in private practice, Ayotte joined the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office where she rose to the rank of Attorney General. 
  • Committees: Armed Services; Commerce, Science & Transportation; Small Business & Entrepreneurship; and Budget
  • Noteworthy AccomplishmentEach Thursday when the Senate is in session, Kelly hosts a constituent coffee in her Capitol Hill office to welcome New Hampshire visitors to Washington and hear what's on their minds
Jeanne Shaheen 
  • Party: Democratic
  • Age: 65
  • Education: Shaheen attended Shippensburg University for her undergraduate degree before obtaining her masters degree from the University of Mississippi.
  • Path to Power: Shaheen began her career as a teacher and small business owner. She began her political career by working on several campaigns and eventually ran her own successful campaign to New Hampshire State Senate. Following her term in the state senate, Shaheen was elected Governor of New Hampshire. Shaheen later worked as the Director of the Harvard Institute of Politics before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008. 
  • Committees: Foreign Relations; Energy & Natural Resources; Small Business & Entrepreneurship; and Security & Cooperation in Europe.
  • Noteworthy Accomplishment: Shaheen is the first woman to ever be governor and senator.

New York
Kirsten Gillibrand 
  • Party: Democratic
  • Age: 46
  • Education: Gillibrand earned her degree in Asian Studies from Dartmouth College. She then earned her law degree from UCLA.
  • Path to Power: Gillibrand began her career practicing law in the private sector. Following work for the Hillary Clinton campaign for Senate, Gillibrand ran her own successful election to U.S. Congress. She was first elected to the U.S. Senate following a special election resulting from Hillary Clinton's nomination as Secretary of State. 
  • Committees: Agriculture; and Armed Services
  • Noteworthy Accomplishment: Gillibrand lead the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. 

North Carolina
Kay Hagan 
  • Party: Democratic
  • Age: 59
  • Education: Hagan earned her undergraduate degree from Florida State University before attending Wake Forest University for her law degree. 
  • Path to Power: Hagan began her career as both an attorney and banker. Hagan later served on the North Carolina Senate for 10 years before getting elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008.
  • Committees: Armed Services; Health, Education, Labor & Pensions; Small Business & Entrepreneurship; and Banking, Housing, & Urban Affiars. 
  • Noteworthy Accomplishment: When Hagan beat incumbent Senator Elizabeth Dole in the 2008 Senate Election, she became the first woman to beat a female incumbent Senator. 

North Dakota
Heidi Heitkamp
  • Party: Democrat
  • Age: 57
  • Education: Heitkamp attended the University of North Dakota for her undergraduate degree. She later attended Lewis and Clark Law School. 
  • Path to Power: Heitkamp began her career as an attorney for the Environmental Protection Agency and later at the Office of the North Dakota State Tax Commissioner. In 1992, she was elected Attorney General for the State of North Dakota. Heitkamp was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012.
  • Committees: N/A
  • Noteworthy Accomplishment: Debunking the dangers of hydraulic fracking

Washington is another state deserving praise for having two female senators. 

Maria Cantwell 
  • Party: Democratic
  • Age: 54
  • Education: Cantwell attended Miami University in Oxford Ohio for her undergraduate degree in Public Administration.  
  • Path to Power: Cantwell was elected to the Washington House of Representatives at the age of 28. Following her service there, Cantwell worked for a technology company. Cantwell was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1993.
  • Committees: Commerce, Science & Transportation; Energy & Natural Resources; Finance; Indian Affairs (chair); and Small Business & Entrepreneurship.
  • Noteworthy AccomplishmentCantwell cosponsored the Prevention First Act, a bill that seeks to increase national access to family planning and preventative methods as a means to reduce unwanted pregnancies.

Patty Murray
  • Party: Democratic
  • Age: 62
  • Education: Murray received her undergraduate degree from Washington State University. 
  • Path to Power: Murray began her career as a preschool teacher. She became involved in politics as a citizen-lobbyist for environmental and educational issues. Murray was elected to her local school board, Washington State Senate and finally the U.S. Senate in 1992.
  • Committees: Appropriations; Veterans' Affairs; Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions; Budget (chair); Rules & Administration; Printing; Deficit Reduction (co-chair).
  • Noteworthy Accomplishment: The catalyst for her to get involved in politics was when a state representative told her that she couldn't make a difference because she was just a mom "in tennis shoes."
Tammy Baldwin 
  • Party: Democratic
  • Age: 50
  • Education: Baldwin earned her undergraduate degree from Smith College before obtaining her law degree from University of Wisconsin Law School. 
  • Path to Power: Baldwin began her political career on the Dane County Board of Supervisors and then in the Wisconsin Assembly. Prior to being elected to U.S. Senate in 2012, Baldwin served in the U.S. House of Representatives for Wisconsin's second congressional district. 
  • Committees: Health, Education, Labor & Pensions; Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs; Aging; and Budget.
  • Noteworthy Accomplishment: Baldwin is the first openly gay U.S. Senator.

All images via wikipedia.org

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