President-elect Donald Trump announced on Nov. 29 that he will nominate Elaine Chao to serve as Secretary of Transportation.
No stranger to the Executive Branch, Chao served as secretary of labor throughout President George W. Bush’s two terms and as deputy secretary of transportation under President George H.W. Bush.
Born in Taiwan, Secretary Chao arrived in the U.S, with her family in 1961 at age 8. She was the first Asian American woman and the first Taiwanese American in history to be appointed to a Cabinet post. Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear was quick to praise Trump’s selection to head the Department of Transportation.
“I had the privilege of serving with and working closely with Secretary Chao during my time at the Department of Labor, [where he served as assistant secretary of policy from 2001-2004] and I am extremely pleased that she will be taking on this new challenge,” Spear said.
“President-elect Trump could not have picked a more qualified, experienced and dedicated individual to serve in this important role," he added. "Secretary Chao understands the issues we face as we try to keep America’s freight moving safely and efficiently."
Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) also applauded the selection of Chao to head DOT.
“America faces a number of important challenges when it comes to our transportation networks that will require strong leadership from the executive branch,” Shuster said. “I am committed to working with Secretary Chao and President Trump to make responsible investments in our infrastructure, streamline transportation improvements, reduce regulatory burdens, encourage private-public partnerships, and encourage innovation to preserve and strengthen America’s economic competitiveness.”
Chao’s prior government service also included stints as director of the Peace Corps, chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission, deputy maritime administrator, and White House Fellow. Prior to her government service, she was a vice president at BankAmerica Capital Markets Group and a banker with Citicorp. In addition, she has served as president and CEO of the United Way of America charity.
Chao holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and an economics degree from Mount Holyoke College.