Secretary Elaine Chao


Elaine L. Chao

The eldest in a family of six daughters (four of whom attended HBS), Elaine L. Chao came to New York City from Taiwan at the age of eight. She adapted to her new home quickly, learning English and excelling academically. Since attending Mount Holyoke and HBS, she has held numerous leadership positions in the private, nonprofit, and public sectors, including director of the Peace Corps, president and CEO of United Way of America, and her present post, U.S. Secretary of Labor.

I remember driving to Boston with my parents to begin my first semester at HBS. We were all so excited and full of anticipation. We attended a reception at the Dean’s House and then enjoyed a wonderful dinner. When I got back to my room in Chase Hall that night, I found three cases in my mailbox. I stayed up half the night reading them.

The culture that I grew up in didn’t place a premium on verbal communication, so I was terrified during my first year. But I found the School to be such an exciting place, and I learned to voice my positions. The entire time I was at HBS I was aware of what a privilege it was to be there. The School provided me with a remarkable education and a network of friends and acquaintances who are now scattered throughout the world. It was a seminal experience.

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