M. Jodi Rell was born in Norfolk, Virginia. She attended Old Dominion University and Western Connecticut State University. She received honorary doctor of law degrees from the University of Hartford in 2001 and the University of New Haven in 2004. She served in the Connecticut House of Representatives, where she held key leadership posts including Deputy House Minority Leader and Assistant House Minority Leader. Rell served as Lieutenant Governor for over nine years, succeeding to the governorship upon the resignation of John Rowland. She was elected to her own full term as governor in November, 2006. As the first woman Republican Governor of Connecticut, Rell strengthened Connecticut’s’ economy by creating a skilled workforce, making Connecticut business-friendly, and providing incentives to encourage job creation. Rell made unprecedented investments in innovative early childhood programs to ensure that children begin school ready to learn. She also signed into law two balanced and on-time state budgets that honored the state’s spending cap, provided for the state’s “Rainy Day” budget reserve fund to be filled, and invested in other critical priorities.