Former U.S. Secretary of Labor, the Honorable Elaine L. Chao, will deliver the keynote address at the 79th Commencement Exercise at St. Catharine College on May 14, 2011. A total of 122 graduates will be conferred degrees during the ceremony, which begins at 11 a.m.
“It is a tremendous honor to have as our Commencement Speaker someone who is so respected and honored worldwide for her service to country and humanity,” said SCC President William D. Huston.
Secretary Chao is the 24th U. S. Secretary of Labor (2001-2009), the longest serving Secretary of Labor since World War II, and the first Asian Pacific American woman to be appointed to a president's cabinet in American history. She is also the first Kentuckian to be appointed to a President’s Cabinet in over 45 years.
An immigrant who arrived in America at the age of eight speaking no English, Secretary Chao’s experience transitioning to a new country has motivated her to dedicate most of her professional life to ensuring that all people have the opportunity to build better lives. During her tenure as Labor Secretary, the Department set new records in worker health and safety and focused on increasing the competitiveness of America’s workforce in a worldwide economy. Prior to the Department of Labor, Secretary Chao was President and CEO of United Way of America, Director of the Peace Corps, Deputy Secretary of Transportation and Chair of the Federal Maritime Commission. She had also worked as Vice President of Syndications at BankAmerica Capital Markets Group and at Citicorp.
Secretary Chao received her MBA from the Harvard Business School and A. B. in economics from Mount Holyoke College. Honored with innumerable awards for her public and community service, she is the recipient of 32 honorary doctorate degrees.
A popular speaker, she is a Distinguished Fellow at a Washington-based educational and research institute and a Fox News Contributor appearing frequently to discuss jobs, employment, workforce competitiveness and the economy. Secretary Chao is married to the Republican Leader of the United States Senate, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.