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12 Facts About Kathleen Sebelius - Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen

Things You Should Know Provide Intimate Details of This 'Child of Politics'


12 Facts About Kathleen Sebelius - Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen

Kathleen Sebelius

© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
"Like father, like daughter" might be one way of describing Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius who, together with former Ohio Governor John Gilligan, comprise the first and only father-daughter team of governors in US history. Yet no one can accuse her of riding on her daddy's coattails.

Only three years into her first term as governor, TIME magazine named Sebelius to their list of "America's Five Best Governors." She was one of two women chosen - the other was Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano.) Like Napolitano, who left the governorship to accept an appointment to the Obama cabinet, Sebelius was also tapped by President Barack Obama to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services; the announcement was made on February 28, 2009.

Sebelius' selection caps a political career focused on public service and improving the lives of women and children. As a leader, she's been shaped by deeply-felt personal experiences beginning in childhood and extending through adulthood. The following personal details illuminate the compassionate individual behind the political figure:

  1. As one of four children, she says the family always talked politics at home and were encouraged to debate the issues and the problems.
  2. As the product of a single-sex education, she attended all-girl schools throughout childhood and college. She graduated from Trinity College, a school which is now coed but was a women's college during her years there.
  3. As the daughter of a seasoned politician who served as a US congressman and governor of Ohio, she doesn't feel that she's 'inherited' politics from her father. Instead, she says what she inherited was her father's deep sense of - and need to be involved in - public service, and the desire to give back to the community.
  4. As a lifelong volunteer, she's given back to her community ever since she was young. She was a Candy Striper and worked with both children and senior citizens; she volunteered at a camp for physically handicapped children and helped out at a nursing home.
  5. As a college student in Washington DC, in the hours after the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, she watched as portions of the nation's capital burn in the riots that followed.
  6. As an advocate of women's and children's issues, she first got involved in the women's movement during her college years.
  7. As a lifelong athlete, she played sports in high school and in college on Trinity's basketball, field hockey and tennis teams. Today she continues to run three miles a day five times a week, plays golf and tennis, and occasionally enjoys scuba diving and cross-country skiing.
  8. As a 'child of politics,' she met a man similar to her - Keith Sebelius - whose father was a congressman representing Kansas. She married him on New Year's Eve in the Ohio governor's mansion in 1974.
  9. As a practicing Catholic, she nonetheless supports reproductive choice and
  10. As a former soccer mom, she drove the car pool for years and stood on the side of the road watching countless soccer games.
  11. As a proponent of women's equality, in her younger years she used to wear a t-shirt that said, ""When God made men, he was just kidding."
  12. As a self-proclaimed "aging rocker," she is a fan of the Rolling Stones and squeezed in both a Stones concert and a ride in an Indy race car on the same day in 2007.
Eakins, Paul. "Born to run: Sebelius driven by a deep sense of public service." Topeka Capital-Journal, 28 July 2002.

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