Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi

U.S. Representative(1940–)
Politician Nancy Pelosi became the first female Democratic Leader of the House of Representatives as well as the first female Speaker of the House.


Born March 26, 1940, in Baltimore, Maryland, Nancy Pelosi continued her family's tradition of being involved in politics. She began as a volunteer and gradually moved up the ranks, making the leap to public office in a special election for California's eighth district in 1987. She became the first female Democratic Leader of the House of Representatives and the first female Speaker of the House.

Early Life

Politician, member of U.S. House of Representatives. Born Nancy D'Alesandro on March 26, 1940, in Baltimore, Maryland. Pelosi carries on the family tradition of being involved in politics. Her father served in Congress and was the mayor of Baltimore for twelve years. And her brother Thomas later served as mayor of Baltimore as well.

Pelosi graduated from Trinity College in Washington, D.C., in 1962. While a student there, she met Paul Pelosi. The two later married and moved to San Francisco. They had five children: Nancy Corinne, Christine, Jacqueline, Paul, and Alexandra. Focused on raising her family, Pelosi got into politics slowly, starting out as a volunteer for the Democratic Party. She hosted parties and helped with campaigns. Pelosi rose up in the party ranks, serving as a California representative to the Democratic National Committee from 1976 to 1996. She also served as the state and northern chair of the California Democratic Party.

Entering Politics

In 1987, Pelosi made the leap to public office, winning a special election for California's Eighth District, which includes San Francisco. As a member of the House of Representatives, she has served on the Appropriations Committee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Pelosi has been a strong supporter of increased funding for health research and for other health care and housing programs and initiatives. She is also an advocate for human rights and the environment.

Pelosi has emerged as one of the leading Democrats in Congress. In 2002, Pelosi was selected to be the Democratic Leader of the House of Representatives, making her the first woman in history to do so. Four years later, she again broke new ground for women in U.S. politics. After the Democrats won majorities in both the House and the Senate in the 2006 midterm elections, Pelosi was chosen to become the first woman to take the post of Speaker of the House.

Speaker of the House

As the leader of the Democratic party in the House under a Republican president, Pelosi was sometimes a divisive figure. A vocal critic of President George W. Bush's stance on the war in Iraq, she advocated for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Pelosi found herself at the center of a controvery in 2009, when the CIA asserted that she had been made aware of its use of waterboarding of terrorism suspects—a technique that Pelosi had vocally opposed. Pelosi denied the CIA's claims.

Pelosi lobbied for the development of better paying jobs, access to college education and affordable health care for all, and revised energy policy that focuses on cleaner, more efficient domestic alternatives.

Shortly after winning the Speaker post, Pelosi had a personal triumph as well. She became a grandmother for the sixth time. Her daughter, Alexandra, gave birth to a son, Paul Michael Vos, on November 13, 2006.

After the election of Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, Pelosi was in the position to work with a president of the same party. She was instrumental in pushing for the health care reform plan in 2010, a position that earned her more criticism from the GOP.

Pelosi remained Speaker until November 2010, when Republicans gained control of the House. She was succeeded by Republican John Boehner. Pelosi is currently the Minority Leader in the House.

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