Neil Abercrombie became Hawaii’s seventh governor on December 6, 2010, after serving more than 20 years in Congress.
Raised in Williamsville, New York, Abercrombie moved to “the 50th State” in September 1959, the month after Hawaii achieved statehood, earning a master’s degree in Sociology and later a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Working for a time as an elementary school teacher and college lecturer, Abercrombie later went on to serve in the Hawaii State Legislature from 1975 to 1986, during which his achievements included helping to start the award-winning Healthy Start prevention program for at-risk mothers and children. In 1986, Abercrombie won a special election to Congress to fill the remaining term of the late Congressman Cec Heftel, after which he returned home to the islands to serve as Special Assistant to the Superintendent of Education and aided in the implementation of the state’s distance-learning programs. From 1988 to 1990, Abercrombie served on the Honolulu City Council and then, in 1990, was elected to return to Congress to represent Hawaii’s first Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
While in Congress, Abercrombie served as chairman of the Armed Forces Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces and a senior member on the Natural Resources Committee, until stepping down in 2010 to run for governor.