Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

John Bryson (2011-2012): Secretary of Commerce

John Bryson was born in New York, New York, in 1943. He grew up in Portland, Oregon, before graduating from Stanford University and Yale Law School.

After leaving law school, Bryson cofounded the National Resources Defense Council in 1970. He served as an attorney for the nonprofit organization focused on environment issues. He then worked for the California Public Utilities Commission and the California State Water Resources. For eighteen years, he was chairman and chief executive officer of Edison International, an energy company. He also served on the boards for The Boeing Corporation and the Walt Disney Company.

President Barack Obama nominated Bryson as secretary of Commerce, and Bryson was sworn in on October 21, 2011. As secretary, he served as a liaison between the business community and the Obama administration. Bryson worked to accelerate job creation, strengthen the U.S. economy, and help make U.S. firms more competitive and successful. He also focused on improving and supporting U.S. manufacturing and promoted alternative energy.

In June 2012, Bryson was involved in a series of car accidents that resulted from a seizure. Due to his health problems, he resigned from his post as secretary of Commerce the same month. Rebecca Blank, deputy secretary of Commerce, took over as acting secretary after Bryson's resignation.