Janet Napolitano

Gov. Janet Napolitano


January 6, 2003 - January 20, 2009

November 29, 1957


Santa Clara University; University of Virginia


NGA Position:
NGA Chair

Birth State
New York

National Office(s) Served:
Cabinet secretary


JANET NAPOLITANO‘s story is symbolic of the success that so many Arizonans have found in their state. Like millions of fellow Arizonans, she is a transplant, born in New York City and raised first in Pittsburgh and then in Albuquerque. In 1975, she went to California to attend Santa Clara University, where she won the prestigious Truman Scholarship and graduated summa cum laude with a degree in political science. She then attended law school at the University of Virginia, graduating in 1983.

Napolitano chose Arizona to build her career, clerking for U.S. Appeals Court Judge Mary Schroeder before taking a position with the Phoenix law firm Lewis and Roca, where she became partner in 1989. Four years later, President Bill Clinton nominated her to serve as U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona. As U.S. Attorney, she helped the state respond to the Amtrak derailment near Phoenix, and helped manage the portion of the Oklahoma City bombing investigation that focused on Tim McVeigh’s activities in Kingman. In 1998, Arizona voters elected her attorney general of Arizona, the first woman to hold this position. In 2002, Napolitano was elected Arizona’s 21st governor and America’s first woman to succeed a woman as governor. Her top priorities were education, the economy, and the environment.

She resigned from office in January, 2009 to accept the appointment as U.S. Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.