The Honorable Elaine L. Chao to Speak as Part of "Women Can Have It All" Series

News Story: March 9, 2016
Elaine L. Chao

Secretary Chao to discuss women in leadership as part of Linda McMahon’s “Women Can Have it All” series

Linda McMahon, founder and CEO of Women’s Leadership LIVE and co-founder and former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), will host the Honorable Elaine L. Chao, 24th U.S. Secretary of Labor (2001-2009), in the fifth installment of her ongoing series, “Women Can Have it All,” at Sacred Heart University.

Secretary Chao is the first American woman of Asian descent to be appointed to the Cabinet and is the longest-tenured Secretary of Labor since World War II. She was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Sacred Heart University in 1991.

McMahon and Secretary Chao will share their perspectives on women in leadership on Thursday, March 31, at 2 the Forum at the Frank and Marisa Martire Business & Communications Center at Sacred Heart University. The public is invited.

The series, sponsored by the Jack Welch College of Business, examines how women can balance career, family and personal time. It features conversations with female leaders across a variety of industries and focuses on topics relevant to women in the workplace, such as management, entrepreneurship and launching and changing careers.

“As a CEO, I want to show women there are no limits to what they can achieve, whether through entrepreneurship, government, non-profits, arts, science or any other path they choose,” McMahon said. “And there is plenty of room for women at the top.”

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 devote most of her professional life to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to build better lives.

Secretary Chao has a distinguished career in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. As the first Secretary of Labor in the 21st century, she focused on increasing the competitiveness of America’s workforce in a global economy and achieved record results 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 charities after it had been tarnished by financial mismanagement and abuse. As director of the Peace Corps, she established the first programs in the Baltic nations and the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union. Her government service also includes serving as deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Transportation and chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission. She has also worked in the private sector as vice president of Syndications at BankAmerica Capital Markets Group and Citicorp.  

Secretary Chao earned her MBA from the Harvard Business School and an economics degree from Mount Holyoke College. Recognized for her extensive record of accomplishments and public service, she is the recipient of 35 honorary doctorate degrees.

A popular speaker on jobs and the economy, Secretary Chao is chair of the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Foundation, which has a major project at Harvard University in honor of her late mother. She currently serves on a number of nonprofit and corporate boards including New York Presbyterian Hospital, the Institute of Politics, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Harvard Business School Board of Global Advisors and Harvard Business School Board of Dean’s Advisors. 

She is married to the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.  Her website is

Women’s Leadership LIVE is a company aimed at promoting leadership opportunities for women. McMahon also helped grow WWE from a 13-person operation to a publicly traded enterprise with more than 800 employees in offices worldwide. She has been widely recognized as one of the country’s top female executives. McMahon was also the Republican nominee to represent Connecticut in the U.S. Senate in 2010 and 2012.