By: Maddox Short ’23
Nancy Pelosi—the first woman elected as Speaker of the House and the first woman to lead a major political party in Congress—stepped down from her role as Speaker of the House Jan. 3.
Pelosi was born Mar. 26, 1940, in Baltimore, MD. Pelosi was the only daughter and youngest of Annunciata M. D’Alessandro and Thomas D’Alesandro Jr.’s seven children.
Pelosi’s family was active in politics throughout her childhood. When she was born, her father was a Democratic congressman in Maryland, and later became the mayor of Baltimore.
Her mother organized political events, and her brother served as Baltimore’s City Council President and Mayor.
Pelosi graduated from Institute of Notre Dame, an all-girls Catholic high school, in 1958. In 1962, Pelosi graduated from Trinity College in Washington, D.C. with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science.
After graduating from college, Pelosi married her husband and moved to New York. Six years later, the Pelosi family, including their five children, moved to San Francisco, California. In San Francisco, Pelosi was a volunteer Democratic Organizer. According to Britannica, Pelosi earned a “reputation as a highly effective fundraiser,” which led to her serving on the Democratic National Committee and as the chair of the California Democratic party from 1981-1983. In 1984, Pelosi was the chair of the host committee for the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco.
When U.S Representative Phil Burton died in 1983, his wife Sala took over his seat, and she was reelected in her own right for two more terms. Sala became ill and encouraged Pelosi to run for her seat. She won the special election, and Pelosi was reelected in 1988 for a full term. Pelosi continued to be reelected in the following elections.
In 2002, Pelosi became the House Minority Whip. Later that year, Pelosi was elected as the House Minority Leader, becoming the first woman to lead a party in congress.
Jan. 4, 2007, Nancy Pelosi was elected as the speaker of the House of the 110th Congress. Pelosi was the first woman to be elected and hold the speaker position. As the Speaker of the House, Pelosi was third in line for presidency.
In 2010, the Democratic Party lost the majority of the house, so Nancy Pelosi lost her speakership. Pelosi became the House Minority Leader for a second run, Jan. 3, 2011. In 2018, the Democratic Party regained majority control of the house, and Nancy Pelosi was reelected as speaker.
In 2019, Pelosi became the first Speaker of the House reelected for a second nonconsecutive term since Sam Rayburn in 1955.
Dec. 2021 Nancy Pelosi announced that she would run for reelection in 2022. She previously agreed to not continue speakership after Jan. 2023, but was reelected in 2022. The Republican Party won House majority, and 10 days later, Pelosi officially announced that she would not run for a leadership position in the 118th Congress. Pelosi’s House leadership ended Jan. 3, 2023.
“With great confidence in our caucus, I will not seek reelection to Democratic leadership in the next Congress…the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic Congress that I so deeply respect,” Pelosi said. “I am grateful that so many are ready and willing to shoulder this awesome responsibility,” she said.
Nancy Pelosi was “the most powerful woman in our country’s history,” according to MSNBC, until 2020 when Kamala Harris was elected as the Vice President of the United States.
Pelosi first ran for office when she was 47, when only 22 other women served in the House with her. In the 118th Congress in 2023, there are 124 women currently serving in the house.
In 2019, Pelosi spoke for the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment celebration. “There isn’t any job you can’t hold…you have to have knowledge and the judgement, and people then will respect your judgement,” Pelosi said.
“Our country was built by strong women and we will continue to break down walls and defy stereotypes,” Pelosi said.
Throughout Nancy Pelosi’s career, she has “been a steadfast role model for women leaders,” according to MSNBC.