Worldwide Guide to Women in Leadership
USA Heads of State
Also see United States of America Government
1857-1861 Politically influential First Lady Harriet Lane Johnston, USA
She was the niece of President James Buchanan who never married and had a decades long relationship with Senator William Rufus Devane King, and therefore acted as his First Lady. She was the most influential woman of her time and pushed legislation through Coungress. She acted as lady of the house, hostess, and escort of James Buchanan enabled him to entertain as Senator, Ambassador, and President of the United States. She was a philantropher and engaged in charity work. Both her parents had died and she grew up with her uncle. She married Henry Elliot Johnston during her uncle's presidency and they had two sons who both died in infancy. She lived (1830-1903)
1908-09 and 1911-13 Politically Influential First Lady Nellie Herron Taft, United State of America
She was influential during her husband's tenure as Commissioner and Governor General to the Philppines 1899-1904. 1904 her husband became Secretary of War and in 1908 he was elected President. Because she strived so diligently in the role of First Lady, she took on too many projects at the same time. In mid-May 1909, she suffered a major stroke while on the presidential yacht, paralyzing her left side and leaving her unable to speak, and her daughter and sisters took over her duties. By 1911 she was back in control. She was very versed in politics, often sitting in on important political discussions and accompanying William on political trips and golf outings. Her huband was Chief Justice from 1921 until his dath in 1930, and she spend the rest of her life travelling in Europe, and lived (1861-1943)
1918-21 Politically Influential First Lady Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, USA (25.9-20.1)
In 1915 she married President Wodrow Wilson, whose first wife was Ellen Louise Axon (1860-1914). Edith Bolling was a close confidant in all his decisions, and took part in the cabinet-meetings. In 1918 Wilson suffered a stroke and was secluded from the public, and she became the de-facto ruler, though she always insisted she was only acting on his orders. President Wilson was in office (1912-21) and lived (1856-1924). Ellen Bolling lived (1872-1961).
1921-24 Politically Influential
First Lady Florence Kling Harding
Unlike other First Ladies, her own career helped to establish her husband, Warren Harding (1865-1923)'s success as a politician. She became the driving force behind the growth and establishment of his newspaper, The Marion Star, as one of the leading papers in Ohio. Despite convention, her husband always stressed the influential role his wife had in his career and his deep respect due to her guidance. Due to her influence over appointments, the Veterans Bureau was born under the direction of Charles Forbes. Forbes eventually showed himself to be a criminal, convicted for collusion and profiteering. They visited Alaska and Canada, when her husband died on 2 August 1923 on the way back to Washington. She lived (1860-1924).
1933-45 Politically Influential First Lady Eleanor
Roosevelt, United State of America
In 1921 when a bout with polio left Franklin Roosevelt crippled, her steadfast encouragement enabled him to return to politics and win the governorship of New York (1929-1933). In the process she became his political surrogate, speaking in his behalf to the citizenry, relaying their feedback to him, and giving her input as well. As First Lady she was a driving force in the New Deal and other social reforms. During World War II, she channeled her energies into the war effort. She did this first by mustering up civilian volunteerism as assistant director of the Office of Civilian Defense, and by visiting U.S. troops abroad. After her husband's death she became a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly, specializing in humanitarian, social, and cultural issues. In 1948, she drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirmed life, liberty, and equality internationally for all people regardless of race, creed or color. Additionally, she helped in the establishment of the state of Israel and attempted negotiations, albeit cautiously, with the Soviet Union. She was niece of former President Theodore Roosevelt, and lived (1884-1962).
1963-69 Politically Influential First Lady Lady Bird Johnson
Played a key role during the term of office of her husband, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who became President when John F Kennedy was assassinated. Despite her unassuming manner, she played a key part in her husband's ascension to the presidency; and her interest in social, political and environmental problems made her one of the most influential First Ladies since Eleanor Roosevelt. In 1968, she persuaded her husband not to run for a second term; his dramatic television announcement shocked the nation, and he died of another hart attack in 1973. She was a journalist and owned a radio and tv-station in Texas. Born Claudia Alta Taylor, whe was given the nickname of Lady Bird by a nursemaid. She was mother of xxx and lived (1912-2007).
1977-81 Politically Influential Rosalynn Smith Carter
She had already been influential during her husband, Jimmy Carter's tenure as Governor of Georgia. As First Lady attended Cabinet meetings and major briefings, frequently represented the Chief Executive at ceremonial occasions, and served as the President's personal emissary to Latin American countries. She focused national attention on the performing arts. She invited to the White House leading classical artists from around the world, as well as traditional American artists. She also took a strong interest in programs to aid mental health, the community, and the elderly. From 1977 to 1978, she served as the Honorary Chairperson of the President's Commission on Mental Health. (b. 1927-).
1981-89 Politically Influential First Lady Nancy
She was a powerful First Lady, in that she had a strong influence over her husband. Already during Ronald Reagan's tenure as Governor of California 1967, she oversaw her husband's schedule, reducing it item by item if she deemed it too full. If she found any of Reaganís staff members that were difficult or unwilling to follow her directives, she relieved them of their duties. When he became president, she arranged his schedule based on astrological charts. She was influential in the removal of Alexander Haig, Donald Regan and Lyn Nofziger from Reaganís staff. Because her husband was hard of hearing, she would often whisper what was being said to him, cementing the perception that she would tell him what to do. Her famous conflicts with Raisa Gorbachev, another strong-minded woman, solidified her image as a powerful woman. (b. 1921-).
1993-2001 Politically Influential First Hillary Rodham Clinton
During her 12 years as First Lady of Arkansas from 1978, she chaired the Educational Standards Committee and co-founded a number of charities. In 1993 President Bill Clinton appointed her chairperson the Task Force on National Health Care Reform 1993. She continued to be a leading advocate for expanding health insurance coverage, ensuring children are properly immunized, and raising public awareness of health issues. Since 2001 Senator from New York and frequently menitioned as a possible Democratic Presidential Candiate in 2009. (b. 1947-).
1997-2001 4rd Deputy Head of State, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
She ranked after the President, Vice-President and Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, but since she was not born in the USA she would never have been able to succeed to the office of President.
4th Deputy Head of State,
Secretary of State
2007-2nd Deputy Head of State, Speaker of the House of Represenatives Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro Pelosi
MP since 1987, she was Whip of the Democratic Party 2001-02 before becoming Minority Leader in 2002. As Speaker of the House she is Presiding Officer but also have great influence over the committee process, and continue as the Head of the House Majority Party and in many ways functions as "Opposition Leader" when the President is from the opposite party. Mother of 4 daughters and 1 son. (b. 1940-).
2009-12 45h Deputy Deputy Head of State, Secretary of State Hilary
Ranked after the President, Vice-President and Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate
Last update 20.08.13