Um, Excuse me Madam Secretary I know you’re busy, but I just wanted to… Oh well… I guess I should have thought twice before saying a loud ‘Madam Secretary’ in the White House these days.
I’m sorry to have interrupted you Secretary Hillary Clinton (State Department), Secretary Hilda Solis (Labor Department) and Secretary Janet Napolitano (Homeland Security), but I was referencing your newly nominated cabinet sister, Secretary-Designate Kathleen Seblius.
Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius accepted the nomination and once approved she will become the fourth woman to serve as Secretary of Health & Human Services.
Governor Sebelius is a veteran politician who learned the craft from her father, John J. Gilligan, and later her father-in-law, Keith Sebelius, a Kansas Republican who spent more than a decade in Congress. The Governor is a graduate of Trinity College in Washington, served eight years in the state legislature and was once a lobbyist for the Kansas Trial Lawyers Association.
She is known for reaching across the aisle in her Republican-dominated state, and in her first gubernatorial bid she chose a former Republican businessman as her running mate.
As governor served as state insurance commissioner for eight years and has overseen the Medicaid program for the poor during her tenure as governor. Sebelius tried unsuccessfully to expand health coverage in the state through higher cigarette taxes. Still, under her watch, Kansas has added tens of thousands of low-income children to state health programs.
This appointment would mean that within 30 years after the first Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Patricia Roberts Harris took the position during the Carter Administration so will Mrs. Sebelius’ appointment to the office by the Obama Administration.
Which lends me to add this minor historical tidbit that makes this connection significant.
Since we have just ended February (Black History Month) and entering March (Women’s History Month) I must mention the significance of Former Secretary Patricia Harris at this time.
Secretary Harris was the first Secretary of Health and Human Services, but to add to that accomplishment she was the first Black Woman to hold a cabinet position. Being first was not unusual for Secretary Harris, because she had been the first Black woman to serve as U.S. Ambassador in Luxembourg under the Johnson Administration, in addition to serving as co-chair of the National Women’s Committee for Civil Rights under the Kennedy Administration and graduating Summa Cum Laude from Howard University in 1945.
I congratulate the Governor and am confident that we all will benefit for her appointment to this cabinet position. I don’t think anyone has to say, “I AM WOMAN HERE ME ROAR” because they only have to send you a memo, text, email or even a message on Twitter to get let you know what they’re thinking.