Thomas Vilsack is the former Iowa governor who served as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture under President Barack Obama
from 2009-2017. Tom Vilsack was born in Pittsburgh and abandoned at a Catholic orphanage as an infant; he was adopted and raised by Bud and Dolly Vilsack. He attended Hamilton College in New York, where he earned an undergraduate degree in 1972. At Hamilton he met his future wife, Ann Christine Bell; they married in 1973. After Vilsack received a law degree from the University of Albany in 1975, he moved with his wife to her home state of Iowa, where Tom Vilsack joined her father's law practice. Vilsack became mayor of Mount Pleasant, Iowa in 1987, moved up to the state senate in 1992, and then shocked the state by winning the governorship in 1998, becoming Iowa's first Democratic governor in 30 years. He served two full terms, from 1999-2007. In 2006 he announced he would run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008, but dropped out of the race in 2007, saying he couldn't raise enough money to compete with other candidates. After Barack Obama's election as president in 2008, he nominated Tom Vilsack to head the Department of Agriculture. Vilsack became Secretary of Agriculture in 2009 and continued in the role after Obama was reelected in 2012; he served all eight years of Obama's administration, from 2009-17. As he stepped down, Vilsack announced that he would take a job as head of the U.S. Dairy Export Council.