Government Official / U.S. Attorney General
Janet Reno was the first woman ever to serve as U.S. Attorney General. Born and raised in Dade County, Florida, Janet Reno went to college at Cornell University (graduating with a chemistry degree in 1960) and then Harvard Law School, where she earned her degree in 1963 as one of 16 women in a class of 500. After working for private law firms and for the state, she became the first woman ever appointed to be a State Attorney for Florida in 1980. She was re-elected five times, and in 1993 President Bill Clinton
appointed her as U.S. Attorney General. One month after her confirmation, Reno took responsibility for the fatal federal showdown with followers of David Koresh at the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco, Texas. During her term she weathered criticism from Democrats (for enabling the investigation which publicly revealed Clinton's affair with intern Monica Lewinsky
) and from Republicans (who often portrayed her as a power-hungry liberal egghead). She also weathered steady parody on shows like Saturday Night Live
which poked fun at her for being a tall, not-too-photogenic, unmarried woman. Nonetheless, Janet Reno held the office longer than any attorney general since the Dwight Eisenhower
administration. She ran for the Democratic nomination for governor of Florida in 2002, but lost to lawyer Bill McBride (who lost in the general election to incumbent Republican Jeb Bush
). She returned to private life and in later years was an active speaker on issues of justice and child welfare. Janet Reno was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, in 1995, while she was Attorney General. The condition which caused her hands to shake but did not prevent her from handling her duties. She died in 2016 of complications from Parkinson's Disease, two decades after her first diagnosis.