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Barbara Ann Mikulski

photo of Barbara Mikulski

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski is the great granddaughter of Polish immigrants and the oldest of three daughters. She was educated in local parochial schools and received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Mount St. Agnes College in Baltimore. She also earned a Masters in Social Work degree from the University of Maryland School of Social Work.

When Mikulski was elected to the United States Senate in November 1986, she became the 16th woman to serve in the Senate. With her election to the Senate, she achieved a significant number of "firsts": the first Democratic woman to hold a Senate seat not previously held by her husband; the first Democratic woman ever to have served in both Houses of Congress; and the first woman ever to win a statewide senatorial election in Maryland. Her first political battle in the late 1960's involved working to save a neighborhood scheduled to be destroyed to make way for a proposed highway. Deciding that it would be better to be "inside" City Hall, she ran for and was elected to the Baltimore City Council where she became known as an effective hands-on representative of the people throughout her five year term of office.

In 1976, she ran for the Third District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Arriving to take her seat in January 1977, it was not long before Mikulski learned her way around Capitol Hill. She upheld a 50-year Baltimore tradition by being appointed to the Merchant Marine & Fisheries Committee. She also turned a few heads by becoming the first woman ever appointed to the powerful Energy & Commerce Committee. While serving in the House of Representatives, she permanently affected many important pieces of legislation. This legislation includes funding of shelters for battered spouses, funding for the dredging of the Baltimore harbor, and an omnibus anti-terrorism bill to improve passenger safety on the high seas.

Her theme for her work in the U.S. Senate has been: "Getting Maryland and our country ready for the future." She continues to strive toward this goal through her work as a member of the Appropriations Committee, the Environment & Public Works Committee, the Labor and Human Resources Committee, and the Small Business Committee.

Biography courtesy of the Maryland Commission for Women, 1988.

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