Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Elizabeth Hanford Dole (1989–1991): Secretary of Labor

Elizabeth Hanford Dole was born July 29, 1936, in Salisbury, North Carolina. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Duke University (1958) and from Harvard Law School (1965). She also holds a master's degree in Education and Government from Harvard University.

During the 1960s, Dole headed the White House Office of Consumer Affairs under Presidents Johnson and Nixon (1969-1973). Thereafter, she served as a member of the Federal Trade Commission (1973-1979) and as assistant to President Reagan for public liaison (1981-1983).

In 1983, Dole became President Reagan's secretary of transportation, becoming the first woman to hold that position; she served in that post until 1986.

President Bush appointed her secretary of labor, and Dole remained in the cabinet for the duration of the Bush presidency (1989-1993). Aside from her career in government, Dole has served on the Duke University Board (1974-1985) and on the Board of Overseers for Harvard University (1990-1996).

In November 2002, she won election to U.S. Congress as a senator from North Carolina.