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: Where are you from and how has that shaped you?
Jeanne Shaheen: My name is Jeanne Saheen. Originally I’m from Missouri. I was born in St. Charles, Missouri. Grew up in southern Missouri in the boot heel, and went to high school and college in Pennsylvania. My family moved east and I sort of worked my way northeast. Then when up to the coast of Maine after I got out of college and met my husband who is from New Hampshire. So I’ve spent the last almost 40 years in New Hampshire. You know I think one of the things that moving around a lot as a child did was it gave me a greater appreciation for the differences among people, and a greater tolerance for the fact that everybody isn’t the same; that not only do we look different, but we have different perspectives, and different backgrounds, and different values, and that it’s important to be tolerant of that.
Recorded on: 6/13/07