Janet Napolitano

Janet Napolitano

The Future of Science as Public Service
March 14, 2011, 4 pm
Kresge Auditorium

Janet Napolitano (b. 1957), was the president of the University of California system from September 2013, and stepped down from that position on August 1, 2020 to join the faculty at Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. She also served from 2009 to 2013 as the third secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, in which role she directed the nation’s counterterrorism, border security, immigration enforcement, as well as disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. Prior to joining the Obama Administration, she was mid-way through her second term as governor of Arizona. While governor, Napolitano became the first woman to chair the National Governors Association, through which she was instrumental in creating the Public Safety Task Force and the Homeland Security Advisors Council. She also chaired the Western Governors Association and served as the attorney general of Arizona and the US attorney for the District of Arizona.

While a US attorney, Napolitano helped lead the domestic terrorism investigation into the Oklahoma City Bombing. Among her accomplishments as attorney general of Arizona is the law to break up human smuggling rings, which she helped to write. As governor, she was a recognized leader in homeland security, border security, and immigration: she implemented one of the first state homeland security strategies in the nation, opened the first state counterterrorism center, and spearheaded efforts to transform immigration enforcement.

Janet Napolitano was born in New York City and grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Albuquerque, New Mexico. She graduated summa cum laude with a degree in political science from Santa Clara University, where she won a Truman Scholarship and was the university’s first female valedictorian. She then went on to earn a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1983. Before entering public office, Napolitano served as a clerk for Judge Mary M. Schroeder on the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and practiced law in Phoenix at the firm of Lewis and Roca.

Photo courtesy of the Department of Homeland Security