Janet Napolitano is the third and current United States Secretary of Homeland Security, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. She is the fourth person (including an acting Secretary) to hold the position, which was created after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A member of the Democratic Party, she was the 21st Governor of Arizona from 2003 to 2009. She was Arizona's third female governor, and the first woman to win re-election. Prior to her election as governor, she served as Attorney General of Arizona from 1999 to 2002. She is the first woman and the 23rd person to serve in that office. Napolitano is the 1977 Truman Scholar from New Mexico. Forbes ranked her as the 51st most powerful woman in 2009.
Janet Napolitano is the third Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and is leading our nation's collective efforts to secure our country from the threats we face - from terrorism to natural disasters.
To counter the threat of terrorism, Sec. Napolitano has forged new partnerships with international allies, and expanded information sharing with federal, state and local law enforcement - building a collaborative effort to detect and disrupt threats early on.
She has initiated a new, more strategic course to strengthen security along our southwest border, deploying additional personnel and advanced technology, while working closely with Mexico to combat violent international drug cartels - resulting in increased seizures of illegal contraband along the border and throughout our country's interior.
Napolitano also has forged a smart and effective approach to enforcing our immigration laws and prioritizing public safety while targeting criminal aliens and aggressively pursuing employers that knowingly take advantage of illegal labor.
She has strengthened the nation's ability to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters by cutting through red tape and expediting decision-making along the Gulf Coast, providing new resources to build resilient communities and bolster their response capabilities, and calling on all Americans to play a role in the shared responsibility of making our homeland secure.
In each of these areas - counterterrorism; border security; immigration enforcement; and disaster preparedness, response and recovery – Sec. Napolitano is building upon the skills and resources of this young department by deploying the best that science and technology have to offer; reinvigorating partnerships with state, local and tribal governments and the private sector - our nation's first detectors and first responders; and implementing a bold Efficiency Review that is making the Department a leaner, smarter agency better equipped to protect the nation.
Prior to becoming Secretary, Sec. Napolitano was in her second term as Governor of Arizona and was recognized as a national leader on homeland security, border security and immigration. She was the first woman to chair the National Governors Association and was named one of the top five governors in the country by Time Magazine. Napolitano was also the first female Attorney General of Arizona and served as U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona.
Sec. Napolitano was born in New York City and grew up in Pittsburgh, Penn., and Albuquerque, N.M. She graduated from Santa Clara University, where she won a Truman Scholarship and was the university's first female valedictorian, and received her Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law. Before entering public office, Sec. Napolitano served as a clerk for Judge Mary M. Schroeder on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and practiced law in Phoenix at the firm of Lewis and Roca.
Responding to a question about claims made by former Vice President Dick Cheney that the U.S. is not as safe as it could be due to the Obama administration's refusal to use so-called advanced interrogation techniques, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said she had not read Cheney's book but that the U.S. was significantly safer today than before the September 11, 2001 attacks.