MAKERS Profile

Nancy Pelosi

First Female Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives

In this video

Nancy Pelosi on getting into politics after five kids, breaking the marble ceiling, and her message to young women going into politics.
Nancy Pelosi is the Minority Leader in the United States House of Representatives. In 2007 she became the 60th Speaker of the House and the first female Speaker in American history, a position she held until 2011. She represents California’s 8th District as a member of the Democratic Party.   Pelosi was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1940 to an influential political family. Her father, Thomas D’Alesandro II, was a US Congressman and the Mayor of Baltimore. Her brother, Thomas D’ Alesandro III, was also Mayor of Baltimore between 1967 an 1971.   Pelosi graduated from Trinity College in Washington, D.C. in 1962 with a degree in political science. She married her college sweetheart, Frank Pelosi, and had five children in six years between 1963 and 1969. Her political career began in earnest in 1969, when the family moved from New York to San Francisco, where her brother-in-law was a member of the City’s Board of Supervisors.   Over the next two decades, Pelosi worked her way up in California politics, eventually serving as Chair of the California Democratic Party and as a member of the Democratic National Committee. In 1985, she was narrowly defeated in a bid to become chairwoman of the DNC.   In 1987 Pelosi won a special election for the 8th District’s seat in the House, a seat that she has held ever since. She quickly became one of Congress’ strongest liberal voices on a variety of issues such as women’s reproductive rights, gay marriage, and staunchly opposing the War in Iraq. She was also one of the House’s most prolific members, serving at various times on the Appropriations Committee, the Intelligence Committee, and as the Minority WHIP and Minority Leader.   On January 3rd, 2007, Pelosi became the first woman, the first Italian-American, and the first Californian to be elected Speaker of the House. She served through 2011, when Democrats ceded control of the House following the 2010 midterm election. She continues as House Minority Leader.

More From Nancy

Fresh Eyes and Ethics
Pelosi sees female candidate being attacked for the very strengths they bring to office - a fresh point of view and strong ethics.

The Woman Behind the Mayor
Pelosi talks about her mother as the real force in her household and what she passed on about the importance of the personal in public service.

Husband’s Fashion Encouragement
Pelosi talks about hating to shop and how her husband helps nudge her.

A Noble Calling
Pelosi describes growing up in a household with a deep commitment to public service.

Mom Over Congresswoman
Despite the joys of being in Congress, nothing compares for Pelosi to the joys of being a mom.

"Get a Life”
When Pelosi was debating her first run for Congress, her teenage daughter's amusing reaction said it all.

Ghosts of Suffragettes Past
Pelosi describes her otherwordly experience during her first meeting in the Oval Office as Democratic Leader.

The Exhilaration of Ferraro
Pelosi recreates the emotion of the moment Geraldine Ferraro became the first woman vice-presidential nominee of a major party.

Take the Title
Pelosi talks about her first official appointment in San Francisco and the lesson it taught her about accepting recognition.

A Table of Bozos
Pelosi recalls a particular dinner years ago where she marveled at the obtuseness of her male colleagues.