Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao Resigns Amidst D.C. Chaos
Elaine Chao, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, has resigned in the wake of the unrest in our nation’s capital yesterday.
Chao, in a letter to her colleagues, said, “Yesterday, our country experienced a traumatic and entirely avoidable event as supporters of the President stormed the Capitol building following a rally he addressed. As I’m sure is the case with many of you, it has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.”
In announcing her resignation, effective Monday, January 11, 2021, Chao pledged to help her successor, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, with his transition to running the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Chao was the 18th U.S. Secretary of Transportation, her second cabinet position. She served as U.S. Secretary of Labor from 2001 to January 2009 and is the first Asian-American woman to be appointed to the President’s cabinet.
Chao came to the U.S. Department of Transportation with extensive experience in the transportation sector. Early in her career, she specialized in transportation financing in the private sector, then began a career in public service working on transportation issues at the White House. She served as Deputy Maritime Administrator, U. S. Department of Transportation, Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission, and Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Chao immigrated to America at the age of eight speaking no English, receiving her citizenship at age 19. Transitioning to a new country motivated her to devote much of her professional life to ensuring that others have the opportunity to build a better life. As U.S. Secretary of Labor, she focused on increasing the competitiveness of America’s workforce in a global economy, promoted job training, and improving workplace safety and health.
Prior to the Department of Labor, Chao was President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of America. Chao also served as Director of the Peace Corps, where she established the first programs in the Baltic nations and the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union.
Chao earned an MBA from the Harvard Business School and an economics degree from Mount Holyoke College. Honored for her accomplishments and public service, she is the recipient of 37 honorary doctorate degrees.
A resident of Jefferson County, Kentucky, Chao is married to Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who also condemned the riots and opposed President Trump’s demands that the election be overturned in his favor. Prior to her appointment as Secretary of Transportation, Chao was a Distinguished Fellow at Hudson Institute. She is the eldest of six daughters born to Dr. James S.C. Chao and the late Mrs. Ruth Mulan Chu Chao.
[Images: U.S. Dept. of Transportation]
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