Anyone who had met Elaine Chao in 1961, when she was just eight years old, would never believe that she would grow up to become one of the top figures in the American government. At that time, she had just moved with her family from mainland China to the United States and could speak no English.
According to her, growing up, nobody paid her and her sisters any form of attention because they did not consider them to be worth paying attention to. However, her parents taught them to be adventurous in their thinking and to work towards achieving things bigger than their imagination. Elaine lived daily with this in mind and eventually worked her way into different top positions in both government and non-government organisations in America. Today, she is the United States Secretary of Transportation and a member of the Republican Party.
Elaine Chao: Mitch McConnell Wife’s Bio & Age
Elaine Lan Chao was born on March 26, 1953, in Taipei, Taiwan. She is the first of Ruth Mulan Chu Chao and James S.C. Chao’s six daughters others being Jeannette, May, Christine, Grace, and Angela.
Her mother, Ruth, who passed on in 2007, was a historian while her father, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, is the founder of the company known as the Foremost Group, a shipping, trading, and finance enterprise based in New York.
Elaine’s parents met for the first time in Shanghai when her mother relocated there alongside her family during World War II. The duo eventually moved to Taiwan separately in 1949 when the Chinese Civil War was at its peak. They tied the knot in 1950 and in 1958, James moved to New York after receiving a scholarship. Three years later Elaine, who was 8 years old at the time, her mother and two of her younger sisters, immigrated to the U.S. on a cargo ship.
Elaine Chao acquired her kindergarten and first-grade education at Tsai Hsing Elementary School in Taipei and later continued her studies at Syosset High School in Syosset, New York. At the age of 19, she became a naturalized citizen of the United States of America.
Continuing her studies, Elaine Chao attended Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, from where she graduated in 1975 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. During her junior year in Mount Holyoke, Elaine studied money and banking at Dartmouth College and in 1979, she bagged an MBA degree from Harvard Business School. So far, the intelligent lady has 37 honorary doctorates below her belt.
Prior to getting into public service, Elaine Chao served as Vice President for syndications at Bank of America Capital Markets Group in San Francisco, California. She also worked for four years as an International Banker at Citicorp, New York.
In 1983, while America’s former president, Ronald Reagan, was still in power, Elaine became a White House Fellow. This made it possible for her to be appointed as Deputy Administrator of the Maritime Administration in the U.S. Department of Transportation in 1986. She also held the position of Chairwoman of the Federal Maritime Commission from 1988 to 1989.
During President George H. W. Bush’s first year in office, he nominated Elaine Chao to serve in the capacity of Deputy Secretary of Transportation, a position in which she served in from 1989 to 1991 before becoming the Director of the Peace Corps from 1991 to 1992. Thus, Elaine Chao became the first Asian Pacific American to ever serve in any of the above-mentioned capacities.
As a result of her service under the administration of President George H.W. Bush, Elaine got a chance to work as President and CEO of United Way of America. She was a Distinguished Fellow with The Heritage Foundation, in Washington, D.C. from 1996 until she was appointed as Secretary of Labor in 2001. She was also among the board members of the Independent Women’s Forum.
Following her appointment as U.S. Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao served until 2009, becoming the only cabinet member in the administration of George W. Bush to serve all through his eight-year tenure as well as the longest-serving Secretary of Labor.
After the end of Bush’s administration, Elaine Chao went back to the Heritage Foundation and also served as a director on various corporate and non-profit boards. In addition, she also contributed to a number of media outlets, including Fox News.
For her quality service in the public sector, Elaine was given the Woodrow Wilson Award in June 2011. Until her swearing in as the United States Secretary of Transportation on January 31, 2017, under President Donald Trump, she was a distinguished fellow at the Hudson Institute.
Following years of serving on the boards of various major companies owned by her father and also years of working under different leadership administrations in the American government, Elaine Chao has amassed an impressive amount of wealth for herself.
The New York Times in 2017, estimated that her assets were worth between $11.5 and $48 million and a January 2019 report by Business Insider, named her among the wealthiest members of President Trump’s cabinet with a net worth of $29.9 million.
Elaine Chao’s Husband & Children
Elaine got married to the current Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, on February 6, 1993, but till today, she has no children with him neither does she have any kids at all. However, her husband has three children from his previous marriage.
Speaking during an interview with CNN, Elaine Chao revealed that she regrets not having children sometimes. She further advised young women that in life, there should be a balance between two desirable but incompatible wants.