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Janet Napolitano

State Governor / Political Figure

Born: 29 November 1957
Birthplace: New York, New York
Best known as: Governor of Arizona, 2003-2009
Janet Napolitano is the former governor of Arizona who was chosen by President Barack Obama to become Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security in 2009. Born in New York, Napolitano was raised in Pittsburgh and Albuquerque and educated at the University of Santa Clara (B.S., 1979) and the University of Virginia School of Law (J.D., 1983). She moved to Phoenix out of law school to work as a clerk for Judge Mary Schroeder of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (1983), then joined the law firm of Lewis & Roca (1984). There her big intellect and ironman work ethic earned her a partnership (1989) and a caseload that included high-profile clients. She represented Anita Hill during the 1991 Senate confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas, a controversial U.S. Supreme Court selection by President George H.W. Bush that made the issue of workplace sexual harassment a front-page story. Napolitano was then appointed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton to be a U.S. Attorney in Arizona. Leftover ill will from the Hill-Thomas affair delayed her confirmation, but in the end -- like Thomas -- she was confirmed and sworn in. Napolitano became Arizona's first woman attorney general in 1998 and went on to narrowly win the 2002 gubernatorial election. A Democrat with a Republican legislature, she was mostly known for exercising her veto power. Her critics said she ballooned the state budget and did little to stop illegal immigration, but she handily won re-election in 2006. She stepped down as governor in 2009 to take her new job with Homeland Security.
Extra credit: Her last name is pronounced "na-POL-eh-TAWN-o."

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