Jennifer Granholm, 1959

  • Jennifer-Granholm-WWP

Woman Category: Law and Politics & LeadersWoman Tags: Author, Educator, Governor, and Lawyer

  • HerStory

    A politician, lawyer, educator, author, and commentator. The 47th Governor of Michigan – the first woman in this position.

    Jennifer Granholm was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. At the age of 4, she moved with her family to the US, settling in California. After graduating high school, she worked in various jobs, including as a tour guide at Universal Studios, in customer service at the Los Angeles Times, and at John B. Anderson’s presidential campaign. She studied Political Science and French at the University of California, Berkeley, then continued to a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard University, where she met her future husband, a fellow law student named Daniel Mulhern. After graduating with honors, she was active in the Michael Dukakis presidential campaign for the 1988 election while working as a clerk for Judge Damon Keith at the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
    Granholm started working as an attorney in the Wayne County executive office, where she prosecuted gang members, drug dealers, and child pornographers. At the age of 36, she was appointed to the Corporation Counsel for Wayne County – the youngest person to serve in this post.
    In 1998, she won a close and dirty race for Michigan Attorney General – the first woman in this position. In-office, she established Michigan’s first High Tech Crime Unit, sued RVP Development for the disruption of Lake Michigan, and enforced regulations on gasoline dealers in the state.
    In 2002, she entered the race as the Democratic candidate for Governor of Michigan. She won and became the first woman to serve as Governor of the state of Michigan. As Governor, Granholm pushed for education reform, promoting education for children from birth to age 5, advocating for post-secondary education, and leading the state to double its number of college graduates. Under her leadership, she led Michigan through the national crisis of 2008, channeling $2 billion to attract jobs and investing in clean energy, homeland security, and manufacturing sectors. During her eight years in office, the state of Michigan had attracted 4,000 companies and became the 2nd highest state in the country with child health care coverage.
    After leaving office in 2011, she began to teach law and public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and became a senior research fellow at the Berkeley Energy and Climate Institute. She founded the American Jobs Project at UC Berkeley, served as a senior advisor for The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Clean Energy Program. She is a board member of the Dow Chemical Company and of The University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics. She is also a regular contributor to CNN, serving as a Managing Partner of RIDGE-LANE LP company and chairing the Priorities USA Action as well as the American Jobs Project.

    “Don’t mistake niceness for weakness”

    “Don’t mistake niceness for weakness”

    More Interesting Anecdotes:

    • She has Irish, Finnish, and Swedish ancestors.
    • At age 18, she won the Miss San Carlos beauty pageant.
    • As a young adult, she attempted to become a Hollywood actress.
    • She was the first female tour guide at Marine World Africa USA.
    • At 19, she participated in “The Dating Game” TV show.
    • At 21, she became a naturalized US citizen.
    • She was the first person in her family to attend college. She was a Phi Beta Kappa.
    • As a student, she spent a year in France, where she helped to smuggle clothes and medical supplies to Jewish people in the Soviet Union.
    • In 2003, she ran 5 miles in 45 minutes during the Mackinac Bridge Walk.
    • She co-authored with her husband a book titled “A Governor’s Story: The Fight For Jobs and America’s Economic Future.”
    • She and her husband took each other’s surname as their middle names.
    • She has three children.
    • In her re-election in 2006, she had the largest number of votes ever cast for Governor in Michigan.
    • She was the host of “The War Room with Jennifer Granholm” on Current TV until Al Jazeera bought the company.
    • She is the second Canadian-born Governor of a US state.
    • While at Harvard, she was the Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review.


  • More About Her Legacy

    * Inducted into the "Michigan Women's Hall of Fame (2004)
    * She was made a Commander of the Royal Order of the Polar Star, First Class, by the King of Sweden (2010)

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  • One of Her Landmarks

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  • Woman Tags: Author, Educator, Governor, Lawyer

    Leadership and Change with Jennifer Granholm - Conversations with History

    (Visit: Harry Kreisler welcomes former Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm for a discussion of lessons learned from her political career. She recalls her formative experiences, analyzes the essential qualities of leadership, and recounts the cascade of crises she confronted as a governor because of the failure of Michigan to recognize and adapt to challenges posed by international economic competitiveness and technological innovation. Leading at a time of structural manufacturing decline, she had to navigate transition to a new economy. Granholm concludes with an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the two parties in meeting these challenges. Recorded on 11/18/2018. Series: "Conversations with History" [Show ID: 34345]

  • Granholm is 2006. Photo credit - Wikipedia

  • Citations and Additional References:
    State of Michigan website.