The first female Democratic United States Senator elected in her own right, Barbara Mikulski has been a political trailblazer for more than thirty years.
Mikulski learned the values of hard work at a young age, as she often watched her father open the family grocery store early so that local steelworkers could buy lunch before their morning shift. Mikulski graduated with a B.A. from Mount Saint Agnes College (now part of Loyola University Maryland), and an M.S.W. from the University of Maryland School of Social Work in 1965.
Determined to make a difference in her community, Mikulski first became a social worker in Baltimore. Her work later evolved into community activism when Mikulski successfully organized communities against a plan to build a sixteen lane highway through Baltimore’s Fells Point neighborhood.
Mikulski’s first election effort was a successful run for Baltimore City Council in 1971, where she served for five years. In 1976, she ran for Congress and won, representing Maryland’s 3rd district for 10 years. In 1986, she ran for Senate and won, becoming the first Democratic woman Senator elected in her own right. She was re-elected with large majorities in 1992, 1998 and 2004 and 2010.
During her tenure as a United States Senator, Mikulski has developed and supported legislation promoting equal healthcare for American women, Medicare reform, better care for veterans, greater student access to quality education, increased funding for scientific research, and more. Mikulski is the Dean of the Women in the U.S. Senate – mentoring other female Senators when they first take office and building coalitions. She is also a senior member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; a senior member of the Appropriations Committee; and a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Senator Mikulski’s commitment to women is evidenced in her actions and her words. “I don’t want women and their families to be left out and left behind. We can fight for them. We will fight for them. They deserve better and I want to give them better.”
In 2011, Senator Mikulski officially became the longest serving female Senator in United States history.