Throughout her life, Elizabeth Hanford Dole has been a trailblazer and precedent-setting leader of great accomplishment, basing her life’s work in public service.
Dole graduated with distinction from Duke University and earned her law degree from Harvard in 1965. She held two Cabinet positions — Secretary of Transportation under President Reagan (the first woman ever to hold that position) and Secretary of Labor for President George H.W. Bush. In 2002, she won 54% of the vote to become U.S. Senator from North Carolina.
Dole served as President of the American Red Cross– the first woman to hold that position since the organization’s founder, Clara Barton, held it in 1881. As Secretary of Transportation, Dole increased automobile safety requirements and spearheaded the campaign to raise the drinking age to 21. She imposed tougher aviation security measures at airports, and worked to increase the use of passive restraints in vehicles.
As Secretary of Labor, Dole initiated the “Glass Ceiling Study” to identify barriers to senior management opportunities for women and minorities and make recommendations for effective change. 62% of her senior staff at Labor were women or minorities. Of this work Dole said, “My objective as Secretary of Labor is to look through the ‘glass ceiling’ to see who is on the other side, and to serve as a catalyst for change.”
Dole also advocated increased support to disadvantaged and unskilled young people to help find employment for at-risk youth. As president of the American Red Cross, Dole directed the work of nearly 30,000 staff members and more than a million volunteers. She overhauled the disaster relief program, turning a $30 million deficit to an on-hand fund of $100 million. She implemented a multi-million dollar program to retool the blood collection, processing and distribution system, which is responsible for one-half of the nation’s blood supply.
Elizabeth Dole has received numerous awards in recognition of her outstanding service, from honorary doctoral degrees to Churchwoman of the Year honors and the Raoul Wallenberg Award for Humanitarian Service.In 2012, she established the Elizabeth Dole Foundation whose purpose is to assist caregivers of “wounded warriors.”