Nancy Pelosi, 1940

  • Nancy-Pelosi-WWP

Woman Category: Politics & LeadersWoman Tags: Congresswoman and WDC Metro Area Women

  • HerStory

    A Democratic congresswoman from California, the first female Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.

    Nancy Patricia D’Alesandro was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Both of her parents were involved in politics. From a young age, she had a political awareness, participating in her mother’s Democratic women gatherings, and helping her father at his campaign events.
    After graduating from the all-girls Catholic Institute of Notre Dame, she studied political science at Trinity College, where she met her husband, Paul Pelosi. The couple settled in San Francisco, and she became active at the local democratic party. Starting as a volunteer organizer and working her way up. In 1976, she was elected as a member of the Democratic National Committee, a position she held for 20 years. In the following year, she was elected as the party chair for Northern California, and within four years, she was chosen as the head of the California Democratic Party. She continued to serve in various positions, including the Host Committee chairwoman of the San Francisco Democratic National Convention, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee finance chair.
    In 1987, she won the special election for representing California at the US House of Representatives and was re-elected for a full term in the next elections. Over the years, she continued to gain reputation within the party, and in 2002, at the age of 62, she was elected for the House minority whip, becoming the first woman to lead a party in Congress. In this role, she promoted many liberal causes, voting for gun control, abortion rights, and against the Iraq war. Five years later, she was elected to the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, making history as the first woman to hold this position. Working with President Obama, she became the architect of the healthcare reform, led the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and promoted bills for increasing the minimum wage, GI education, and increasing service for veterans and caregivers. Under her leadership, the Congress was one of the most productive in history. In 2011 she returned to her previous post as a minority leader until she was re-elected as the house speaker in 2019, making history once again, as the first person in over 60 years to serve nonconsecutive terms in this position.

    “Being the first woman speaker and breaking the marble ceiling is pretty important. Now it’s time to move on”

    “Being the first woman speaker and breaking the marble ceiling is pretty important. Now it’s time to move on”


    More Interesting Anecdotes:

    • She is of Italian descent.
    • She was the only girl and the youngest of seven children.
    • She has 5 children and 9 grandchildren.
    • Her father, Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., was the mayor of Baltimore as well as a New Deal Democrat.
    • Her brother, Thomas D’Alesandro III, also served as the Mayor of Baltimore.
    • She served for 13 years as a board member of the National Italian American Foundation.
    • In 2019, she initiated the fourth impeachment proceedings in US history against President Donald Trump.
    • She is a prominent Democratic fundraiser, raising more than $700 million for the Party since 2002.
    • She always makes sure that her office is stocked with San Francisco’s Ghirardelli chocolates.
    • She is not only the first woman, but also the first Californian and the first Italian-American to lead a major party in Congress.
    • Nancy Pelosi Drive in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, was renamed after her in 2012.
    • Via Nancy D’Alesandro Pelosi in her hometown, Baltimore, was renamed in her honor in 2006.
  • More About Her Legacy

    * Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (2007)
    * Inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame (2013)
    * Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun (2015)
    * The Foremother Award from National Center for Health Research (2016)
    * The NIAF Special Achievement Award for Public Advocacy (2017)

  • Watch and Learn More

  • One of Her Landmarks

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  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: "Don't mess with me when it comes to words like that."

    Q: "Do you hate the president?"

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: "I don't hate anybody…As a Catholic, I resent your using the word hate in a sentence that addresses me. I don't hate anyone…So, don't mess with me when it comes to words like that."

    Full video:

  • Pelosi in an official photo in 2019. Photo credit - Wikipedia