Cite

von der Leyen, Ursula

von der Leyen, Ursula, 1958–, German politician, b. Brussels, Belgium, as Ursula Albrecht. She studied economics and medicine, worked (1988–92) at Hanover Medical School's (MHH) gynecological clinic, lived in the United States (1992–96) while her husband, Heiko von der Leyen, taught at Stanford, then was on the epidemiology faculty at MHH (1998–2002). A member of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) from 1990, she was appointed (2005) minister for families in Angela Merkel's first cabinet, where she instituted an expansion of daycare facilities and paid parental leave. Elected to the Bundestag in 2009, she became minister of labor (2009–13) and, in 2010, deputy leader of the CDU. In 2013 she became the first woman to serve as German defense minister. Viewed as a potential successor to Merkel, von der Leyen was elected in 2019 to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission; a compromise choice, she became the first woman to hold the post.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: German History: Biographies