Skip to main content

Elaine L. Chao

Distinguished Fellow

Elaine L. Chao is a distinguished fellow at Hudson Institute. She leads a policy program on jobs, trade, transportation, and economic leadership.

From 2017 to 2021, Ms. Chao served as United States Secretary of Transportation. From 2001 to 2009, she served as United States Secretary of Labor. She is the first Asian-American woman to be appointed to the President’s cabinet in American history.

Secretary Chao’s distinguished career has spanned the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. An immigrant who arrived in America at the age of eight speaking no English, she received her citizenship at the age of 19. Her experience transitioning to a new country has motivated her to devote her professional life to ensuring that everyone can build better lives for themselves and their families.

As U.S. Secretary of Labor, she focused on increasing the competitiveness of America’s workforce in a global economy, promoted job training, and set new records in workplace safety and health.

Prior to the Department of Labor, Secretary Chao was president and chief executive officer of United Way of America, where she restored public trust and confidence in one of America’s premier institutions of private charitable giving, after it had been tarnished by financial mismanagement and abuse. Secretary Chao also served as director of the Peace Corps, where she established the first programs in the Baltic nations and the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union.

Secretary Chao was a distinguished fellow at Hudson Institute from 2016 to 2017, before becoming U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

Secretary Chao earned her MBA from the Harvard Business School and an economics degree from Mount Holyoke College. Honored for her extensive record of accomplishments and public service, she is the recipient of 37 honorary doctorate degrees.

Secretary Chao is a resident of Jefferson County, Kentucky. She is the eldest of six daughters born to Dr. James S.C. Chao and the late Mrs. Ruth Mulan Chu Chao.

Featured Research

In the Media

All Commentary

Media Coverage

Former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s return to Hudson Institute was mentioned in Politico Playbook