ELAINE CHAO Biography - Polititians


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Name: Elaine Lan Chao                                                                     
Born: 26 March 1953 Taipei, Taiwan                                                       
Elaine Lan Chao (born March 26, 1953) currently serves as the 24th United                 
States Secretary of Labor in the Cabinet of President George W. Bush. She is the         
first Chinese American, and the first Asian-American woman to be appointed to             
a President's cabinet in American history. Chao is the President's only original         
cabinet member, making her the longest serving cabinet member during President           
Bush's administration.                                                                   
Chao was born in Taipei, Taiwan, to James S. C. Chao, a                                   
Shanghainese entrepreneur, and Ruth Mu-lan Chu, a historian. Her                         
parents had fled to Taiwan from mainland China after the Chinese Communists took         
over as a result of the Chinese Civil War in 1949. At the age of eight, Elaine           
Chao and her family immigrated to the United States, where her father had                 
already settled a few years earlier. She attended Syosset High School on Long             
Island, New York.                                                                         
Chao received her B.A. in Economics from Mount Holyoke College in 1975 and her           
MBA from the Harvard Business School. She also studied at MIT, Dartmouth College,         
and Columbia University. She is the recipient of 29 honorary doctoral degrees             
from colleges and universities around the world.                                         
In 1986, Chao returned to Washington D.C. as Deputy Administrator of the                 
Maritime Administration in the US Department of Transportation. From 1988 to             
1989, she served as Chairwoman of the Federal Maritime Commission.                       
In 1989, President George H. W. Bush nominated Chao to be Deputy Secretary of             
Transportation, the number two position in the department. From 1991 to 1992,             
Chao was Director of the Peace Corps. She was the first Asian American to serve           
in all these positions. She expanded the Peace Corps's presence in Eastern               
Europe and Central Asia by establishing the first Peace Corps programs in Latvia,         
Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, and the newly independent states of the former               
Soviet Union.                                                                             
Following her service in the government, Chao worked for four years as President         
and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of America. She is credited with               
returning credibility and public trust back to the organization after an                 
embarrassing financial mismanagement scandal involving former United Way of               
America president Bill Aramony. From 1996 until her appointment as Secretary of           
Labor, Chao was a Distinguished Fellow with the Heritage Foundation, a                   
Washington think tank.                                                                   
During Secretary Chao's tenure, the Department has updated the white collar               
overtime regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which has been on the           
agenda of every Administration since 1977. For the first time in history,                 
overtime protection is now explicitly guaranteed for blue collar workers, police,         
firefighters, EMT's, factory workers, construction workers and hourly workers.           
The most significant regulatory tort reform of President Bush's first term, the           
new regulations provided millions of workers with strengthened overtime                   
protection. In 2003, the Department achieved the first major update of union             
financial disclosure regulations in more than 40 years, giving rank and file             
members enhanced information on how their dues are spent. The Department has set         
new worker protection enforcement records, including recovering record back               
wages for vulnerable low wage immigrant workers. The Department has also                 
launched comprehensive reform of the nation's publicly funded worker training             
programs. In 2006 and 2007, the Department successfully implemented the Mine             
Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006 (MINER Act). On August 17,             
2006, President Bush signed the Pension Protection Act, which protects the 44             
million workers whose retirement security rests upon private sector defined               
benefit pension plans.                                                                   
After Donald Rumsfeld had stepped down from his position as Secretary of Defense         
in November 2006, she became the only original Cabinet member still serving in           
the Bush Administration in the same position to which she was appointed.