The first woman in history to be elected a Governor and a United States Senator, Jeanne Shaheen has been involved in all levels of New Hampshire life. She taught in a New Hampshire high school, chaired the Town of Madbury's zoning board and served three terms in the State Senate. Shaheen became the first woman elected Governor of New Hampshire, serving three terms from 1997-2003. In 2008 Shaheen became the first woman elected to the United States Senate from New Hampshire.
A champion of middle class families, as Governor, Shaheen worked to make college more affordable, made public kindergarten a reality for over 25,000 additional children, and extended affordable health coverage to tens of thousands of New Hampshire children. Her focus on the economy led to the creation of nearly 67,000 new jobs during her six years as Governor and the third-highest high tech employment in the nation. Shaheen also signed historic civil rights laws, including legislation making New Hampshire only the 10th state to add sexual orientation to its anti-discrimination laws.
In 2005 she took on the challenge of forging a new generation of public leaders when she became the Director of Harvard University's Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government, but resigned to run for the United States Senate in the 2008 elections, which she ended up winning.
Question: Beyond a simple title, how would you describe what you do for a living?
Jeanne Shaheen: Well I would describe myself as a politician. That certainly has been my experience for the last 30 years. And even now I’m currently the Director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard; I still view my work as political. It’s got a little different direction to it now because our mission is to engage young people in politics and public service. And so what I’m really trying to do these days is to inspire young people about the importance of getting involved in politics, and about giving back. We’re carrying on the Kennedy legacy of trying to engage this young generation in giving back to the country and the world through public service.
Recorded on: 6/13/07