Elizabeth Dole has served a remarkable public service career in which she has served six United States Presidents and in 1998 was named by the Gallup Poll among the world’s top 3 most admired women. In January 1999, she resigned from her position at the American Red Cross, having served as President since 1991.*
A native of Salisbury, North Carolina, Mrs. Dole graduated with distinction from Duke University in 1958 and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She earned a degree from Harvard Law School in 1965 and also holds a master's degree in education and government from Harvard.
In 1971, Mrs. Dole was appointed Deputy Assistant to President Nixon for Consumer Affairs, beginning a career of dedication to public safety, for which she received the National Safety Council's Distinguished Service Award in 1989.
Mrs. Dole's résumé includes six years (1973-1979) as a member of the Federal Trade Commission and two years (1981-1983) as Assistant to President Reagan for Public Liaison.
In February 1983, Mrs. Dole joined President Reagan's Cabinet as Secretary of Transportation -- the first woman to hold that position.
During Mrs. Dole's four-and-a-half years at Transportation, the United States enjoyed the safest period to date in all three major transportation areas -- rail, air, and highway. Mrs. Dole led the civilian government in the initiation of random drug testing. She spearheaded the national effort to raise the drinking age to 21 and directed the overhaul of the aviation safety inspection system. She also managed the sale of CONRAIL, the government-owned freight railroad and the flagship of privatization, which returned $2 billion to the U.S. Treasury.
Mrs. Dole was sworn in by President Bush as the nation's 20th Secretary of Labor in January 1989. She worked to increase safety and health in the workplace, advocated upgrading the skills of the American work force, and moved for improved relations between labor and management -- playing a key role in bringing the parties together to resolve the bitter 11-month Pittston Coal Strike in southwest Virginia. Numerous initiatives to benefit at-risk youth became her top priority -- one she has pursued at the American Red Cross in establishing The Mary Cathey Hanford Fund in honor of her mother, Mary Hanford. The Fund provides scholarships through the Elizabeth Hanford Dole Red Cross Chapter in Salisbury, North Carolina.
As President of the American Red Cross, the world's foremost humanitarian organization, Mrs. Dole oversaw more than 30,700 paid and 1.3 million volunteer staff. To demonstrate her appreciation for volunteers, the heart and soul of the American Red Cross, Mrs. Dole volunteered her first year at the Red Cross, accepting no salary.
In 1991, four months into her presidency at the Red Cross, Mrs. Dole secured approval from the organization's Board of Governors to launch a sweeping transformation of Red Cross Biomedical Services to incorporate medical technology quickly and efficiently. Over seven years, the Red Cross invested $287 million to dramatically improve how the Red Cross collects, tests, and distributes nearly half the nation’s blood supply. The Red Cross is the largest supplier of blood, plasma, and tissue products in the United States and also is a world leader in blood research.
Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala recognized Mrs. Dole’s leadership of the Biomedical Services transformation effort when she said, “(T)he Red Cross has made a huge investment in improving the quality of its own oversight and of the blood supply ... in her leadership of the Red Cross, few have done more to alleviate human miseries and save lives.” (April 30, 1998).
Dr. David Kessler, former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, called the massive undertaking directed by Mrs. Dole “nothing short of an heroic effort...You have transformed the safety of the nation’s blood supply, and for this you deserve the nation’s thanks.” (April 30, 1998)
Representing the American Red Cross internationally, Mrs. Dole visited Kuwait following the Gulf War to assess Red Cross services provided to U.S. military personnel. In December 1992, she visited Red Cross relief operations in famine-stricken Somalia and Mozambique, as well as in war-torn Croatia. In August 1994, Mrs. Dole led a humanitarian relief delegation to Rwandan refugee camps in the former Zaire.
During her tenure, Mrs. Dole led a dramatically successful fund-raising effort that raised more than $562 million to assist victims of devastating hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, winter storms, as well as other non-weather-related disasters. When Mrs. Dole came to the organization in 1991, the Disaster Services Human Resource (DSHR) system, a national network of trained disaster relief workers, had 3,200 active members. Today, there are more than 20,700 paid and volunteer staff in DSHR.
Under her leadership, the American Red Cross was consistently recognized for outstanding financial stewardship. In 1996, Money magazine named the American Red Cross the nation’s Top-Rated Charity for its great efficiency over a three-year period. The Money rating was largely based on cost-efficient Red Cross management that directs 92 cents of every dollar spent to programs and services. In addition, the Red Cross achieved an A+ from American Institute of Philanthropy Charity Ranking Guide.
Hosted by Mrs. Dole in December 1998, the first ever full-hour, prime-time network entertainment special was produced by the American Red Cross. Aired on CBS, “The American Red Cross Celebrates Real Life Miracles” was viewed in an estimated 4 million homes nationwide.
Mrs. Dole’s awards are numerous, ranging from honors for civic service and leadership in government to accolades for her charitable commitments and dedication to issues surrounding women in the workplace. In 1999, she was awarded the Peter Parker Medal from the Yale University School of Medicine. In 1998, she received the Humanitarian Award from the National Commission Against Drunk Driving, and in 1991 she was honored with the prestigious North Carolina Award from Governor James Martin. In 1993, Women Executives in State Government honored Mrs. Dole with its Lifetime Achievement Award. That same year, Mrs. Dole was selected for induction into the Safety and Health Hall of Fame International for her numerous transportation, workplace, and blood safety accomplishments.
She also received the North Carolina Press Association's first "North Carolinian of the Year" Award and the Radcliffe College Medal for her outstanding accomplishments. Mrs. Dole was honored by the League of Women Voters as the recipient of the Leadership Award in 1994, and in 1995 she received the Raoul Wallenberg Award for Humanitarian Service. She has received honorary doctorate degrees from 38 colleges and universities, including Notre Dame University, Johns Hopkins University, Smith College, Dartmouth College, and the College of William and Mary.
Mrs. Dole was named as one of the 10 Most Fascinating People of 1996 by the Barbara Walters Special, the Most Inspiring Political Figure of 1996 by MSNBC and one of the Top Newsmakers of 1996 by Newsweek. In 1997, Mrs. Dole was honored by Glamour magazine as a Woman of the Year and by Redbook as a recipient of the “Solutions for Tomorrow” award for her work as president of the Red Cross. In the January 1998 issue of Good Housekeeping, Mrs. Dole was named as one of the 10 Most Admired Women, her third appearance in the magazine’s Top 10.
*Elizabeth Dole took a 14-month unpaid leave of absence from November 1995 - January 1997 to accompany her husband, Bob Dole, on his presidential campaign.