TOM RIDGE was born in Munhall, Pennsylvania. Raised in a working class family, he won a scholarship to Harvard University, graduating with honors in 1967. While attending Dickinson School of Law, he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He served as an infantry staff sergeant in Vietnam, winning the Bronze Star for valor. After completing his military service he returned to law school, graduating in 1972. He went on to serve as an Assistant District Attorney in Erie before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982. The first enlisted Vietnam veteran to become a member of Congress, he served six terms before winning the governorship. Ridge’s gubernatorial administration saved families and employers nearly $8.7 billion through tax cuts, workers compensation reform, a reduction in red tape, and electric and natural gas competition, all of which helped create nearly 300,000 new jobs. Ridge also made Pennsylvania a technology leader, winning the nation’s first model e-commerce law. In addition, he focused on education, winning legislation to create charter schools, alternative education for disruptive students, and professional development for teachers. He won reelection, but was chosen before completing his second term to become head of the nation’s new Office of Homeland Security, created in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. When the Office achieved Department status, Ridge became Secretary of Homeland Security, a position in which he served until 2005. He went on to serve as a member of the Board of Directors of Home Depot and of Savi Technology.
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
Who’s Who in America, 2006, Vol. 2. New Providence, NJ: Marquis Who’s Who, 2005.
Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress