Janet Napolitano facts for kids

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Janet Napolitano
President of the University of California System
Incumbent
Assumed office
September 30, 2013
Preceded by Mark Yudof
3rd United States Secretary of Homeland Security
In office
January 21, 2009 – September 6, 2013
President Barack Obama
Deputy Jane Lute
Rand Beers (acting)
Preceded by Michael Chertoff
Succeeded by Rand Beers (acting)
21st Governor of Arizona
In office
January 6, 2003 – January 21, 2009
Preceded by Jane Dee Hull
Succeeded by Jan Brewer
23rd Attorney General of Arizona
In office
January 4, 1999 – January 6, 2003
Governor Jane Dee Hull
Preceded by Grant Woods
Succeeded by Terry Goddard
U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona
In office
November 19, 1993 – November 1, 1997
Preceded by Linda Akers
Succeeded by Jose de Jesus Rivera
Personal details
Born Janet Ann Napolitano
November 29, 1957 (1957-11-29) (age 61)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Signature

Janet Ann Napolitano (/nəpɒlˈtæn/; born November 29, 1957) is an American politician, lawyer, and university administrator who served as the 21st Governor of Arizona from 2003 to 2009 and United States Secretary of Homeland Security from 2009 to 2013, under President Barack Obama. She has been president of the University of California system since September 2013, shortly after she resigned as Secretary of Homeland Security.

Prior to her election as governor, she served as Attorney General of Arizona from 1999 to 2003. She was the first woman and the 23rd person to serve in that office. Napolitano is the 1977 Truman Scholar from New Mexico.

She has been the first woman to serve in several offices, including Attorney General of Arizona, Secretary of Homeland Security, and president of the University of California.

Forbes ranked her as the world's ninth most powerful woman in 2012. In 2008, she was cited by The New York Times to be among the women most likely to become the first female President of the United States. Some political commentators suggested that a possible candidacy in the 2016 election. She has also been discussed as a contender for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Early life

Janet Napolitano was born on November 29, 1957, in New York City, the daughter of Jane Marie (née Winer) and Leonard Michael Napolitano, who was the dean of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. Her father was of Italian descent and her mother had German and Austrian ancestry. Napolitano is a Methodist. She is the oldest of three children; she has a younger brother and sister. She was raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she graduated from Sandia High School in Albuquerque in 1975 and was voted Most Likely to Succeed. She graduated from Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California, where she won a Truman Scholarship, and was valedictorian. In 1978, she studied for a term at the London School of Economics as part of Santa Clara's exchange programme through IES Abroad. She then received her Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the University of Virginia School of Law. After law school she served as a law clerk for Judge Mary M. Schroeder of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and then joined Schroeder's former firm, Lewis and Roca located in Phoenix.

Early political career

In 1991, while a partner at Lewis and Roca LLP, Napolitano served as an attorney for Anita Hill. Anita Hill testified in the U.S. Senate that then U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her ten years earlier when she was his subordinate at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In 1993, Napolitano was appointed by President Bill Clinton as United States Attorney for the District of Arizona. As U.S. Attorney, she was involved in the investigation of Michael Fortier of Kingman, Arizona, in connection with the Oklahoma City bombing. She ran for and won the position of Arizona Attorney General in 1998. During her tenure as attorney general, she focused on consumer protection issues and improving general law enforcement.

While still serving as attorney general, she spoke at the 2000 Democratic National Convention just three weeks after having a mastectomy. Napolitano recalls that the pain was so unbearable that she couldn't stand up. "Work and family helped me focus on other things while I battled the cancer," says Napolitano. "I am very grateful for all the support I had from family, friends and Arizonans."

Secretary of Homeland Security

Janet Napolitano announces Border Security task force
Napolitano announcing a border security task force.

In February 2006, Napolitano was named by The White House Project as one of "8 in '08", a group of eight female politicians who could possibly run for president in 2008. On January 11, 2008, Napolitano endorsed then Illinois Senator Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee for president. On November 5, 2008, Napolitano was named to the advisory board of the Obama-Biden Transition Project. On December 1, 2008, Barack Obama introduced Napolitano as his nominee for United States Secretary of Homeland Security. On January 20, 2009, Napolitano was confirmed, becoming the first woman appointed Secretary in the relatively new department, and the fourth person to hold the position overall (including one acting secretary). Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer became the governor of Arizona, as the state does not have a lieutenant governor.

Super Bowl XLIV security news conference 2010-02-01 1
Napolitano discussing security at a Super Bowl XLIV press conference. The Super Bowl is designated as a National Special Security Event by Homeland Security.

In March 2009, Napolitano told the German news site Der Spiegel that while she presumes there is always a threat from terrorism: "I referred to 'man-caused' disasters. That is perhaps only a nuance, but it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur." In April 2009, Napolitano, trying to defend her plans to tighten Canada–US border, claimed incorrectly that September 11 attack perpetrators entered the United States from Canada. Her comments provoked an angry response from the Canadian ambassador, media, and public.

In response to criticism, she later said, "Nonetheless, to the extent that terrorists have come into our country or suspected or known terrorists have entered our country across a border, it's been across the Canadian border. There are real issues there." Though there has only been one case, that of Ahmed Ressam an Algerian citizen who was in Canada illegally.

Right-wing extremism memo controversy

Napolitano was the subject of controversy after the release of a Department of Homeland Security threat assessment report that was seen as derogatory towards armed forces veterans. The report focused on potential threats from the radical right. Rightwing [sic] Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment was made public in April 2009. The report suggested several factors, including the election of the first black or mixed race President in the person of Barack Obama, perceived future gun control measures, illegal immigration, the economic downturn beginning in 2008, the abortion controversy, and disgruntled military veterans' possible vulnerability to recruitment efforts by extremist groups as potential risk factors regarding right-wing extremism recruitment.

Napolitano made multiple apologies for any offense veterans groups had taken at the reference to veterans in the assessment, and promised to meet with those groups to discuss the issue. The Department of Homeland Security admitted a "breakdown in an internal process" by ignoring objections by the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties to an unnamed portion of the document.

While the American Legion reportedly criticized the assessment, Glen M. Gardner Jr., the national commander of the 2.2 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars, defended it generally, saying it "should have been worded differently" but served a vital purpose. "A government that does not assess internal and external security threats would be negligent of a critical public responsibility", he said in a statement.

"The system worked" controversy

Napolitano was criticized for stating in an interview with CNN's Candy Crowley that "the system worked" with regard to an attempted terrorist attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 approaching Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. She later went on NBC's Today Show with host Matt Lauer and admitted that the security system had indeed failed.

This is Napolitano's later-criticised statement to Crowley:

What we are focused on is making sure that the air environment remains safe, that people are confident when they travel. And one thing I'd like to point out is that the system worked. Everybody played an important role here. The passengers and crew of the flight took appropriate action. Within literally an hour to 90 minutes of the incident occurring, all 128 flights in the air had been notified to take some special measures in light of what had occurred on the Northwest Airlines flight. We instituted new measures on the ground and at screening areas, both here in the United States and in Europe, where this flight originated. So the whole process of making sure that we respond properly, correctly and effectively went very smoothly.

In her interview with Lauer, Napolitano said that her earlier statement was "taken out of context" and maintained "air travel is safe", but admitted, "our system did not work in this instance" and no one "is happy or satisfied with that". Lauer asked her whether the system failed up until the moment the bomber tried to blow up the plane, and Napolitano answered, "It did [fail]."

Secure Communities

Janet Napolitano official portrait
Napolitano's official portrait as Secretary of Homeland Security.

Secure Communities is a deportation program managed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a subdivision of Homeland Security. Napolitano came under scrutiny for contradicting herself publicly on whether the program is voluntary or mandatory for local jurisdictions to join. On September 7, 2010, Napolitano said in a letter to Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren that jurisdictions that wished to withdraw from the program could do so. Yet an October 2010 Washington Post article quoted an anonymous senior ICE official asserting: "Secure Communities is not based on state or local cooperation in federal law enforcement…State and local law enforcement agencies are going to continue to fingerprint people and those fingerprints are forwarded to FBI for criminal checks. ICE will take immigration action appropriately."

At a press conference days later, Napolitano modified her position: "What my letter said was that we would work with them on the implementation in terms of timing and the like…But we do not view this as an opt-in, opt-out program." She did not provide legal justification. Meanwhile, in Arlington, Virginia, the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution to opt out of SComm. A subordinate DHS employee David Venturella stated at a policy conference: "Have we created some of the confusion out there? Absolutely we have."

Printer bomb attempt

Janet Napolitano has issued a ban for toner & ink cartridges weighing more than one pound on passenger flights, in response to the October 2010 Yemen bomb plot. In response to the printer bomb attempt and the "underwear" bomb attempt of 2009, Napolitano has instituted "enhanced pat downs". These pat downs may include the touching of sensitive areas such as breasts and genitals.

Walmart–DHS partnership

On December 6, 2010, it was announced that Napolitano was again expanding her reach by creating a "partnership" with Walmart. This is a video message from Napolitano on TV screens in Wal-Mart stores playing a "public service announcement" to ask customers to report suspicious activity to a Wal-Mart manager. The rationale is that national security begins at home. Napolitano "compares the undertaking to the Cold War fight against communists."

Tucson memorial

Kelly Napolitano Tucson Memorial 2011
Napolitano stands next to Mark Kelly, husband of shooting survivor Gabrielle Giffords, at the memorial event.

On January 12, 2011, along with President Barack Obama, Napolitano was one of many speakers selected to express sympathies to the community of Tucson, the State of Arizona, and the Nation in a televised memorial for the 2011 Tucson shooting.

Discrimination lawsuit

In July 2012, Napolitano was accused of allowing discrimination against male staffers within the Department of Homeland Security. The federal discrimination lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, was filled by James Hayes Jr. who is presently a special agent of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in New York City. The suit alleges that Dora Schriro and Suzanne Barr mistreated male staffers and promotions were given to women who were friends of Napolitano, and when the abuse was reported to the Equal Employment Opportunity office, that Napolitano launched a series of misconduct investigations against the reporting party, Hayes. The Immigrations and Customs Enforcement's spokesperson stated that he would not comment on "unfounded claims".

Suzanne Barr, who was one of Napolitano's first appointments after she became secretary in 2009, went on leave after Hayes filed his lawsuit and then resigned on September 1, 2012. She called the allegations in the lawsuit "unfounded."

Napolitano was sued by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who claims he was pulled from his post interviewing suspicious travelers at JFK Airport after making a series of employment-discrimination complaints. In November 2012, Hayes' attorney in Maryland, Morris Fischer, said the "parties have come to an agreement in principle" to settle the case for $175,000. In addition to the money, "a formal settlement agreement will be executed within the next several days" that will include other conditions, including Hayes keeping his job.

Personal life

Napolitano is an avid basketball fan and regularly plays tennis and softball. Whitewater rafting and hiking are among her hobbies. She has hiked in Arizona's Superstition Mountains, New Mexico's Sandia Mountains, and the Himalayas, and has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

Cancer diagnosis

Napolitano has been undergoing cancer-related treatment since August 2016. On January 17, 2017, Napolitano was hospitalized in Oakland for complications from the cancer treatment. She was released from the hospital on January 23, 2017.

Electoral history

Arizona gubernatorial election 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
[[Democratic Party (US)|Template:Democratic Party (US)/meta/shortname]] Janet Napolitano 499,284 46.2 +0.9
[[Republican Party (US)|Template:Republican Party (US)/meta/shortname]] Matt Salmon 478,935 45.3
Independent Richard D. Mahoney 84,947 6.9
style="background-color: Template:Libertarian Party (US)/meta/color; width: 5px;" | [[Libertarian Party (US)|Template:Libertarian Party (US)/meta/shortname]] Barry Hess 20,356 1.7
Democrat gain from Republican Swing
Arizona gubernatorial election 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
[[Democratic Party (US)|Template:Democratic Party (US)/meta/shortname]] Janet Napolitano (incumbent) 959,830 62.6 +16.4
[[Republican Party (US)|Template:Republican Party (US)/meta/shortname]] Len Munsil 543,528 35.4
style="background-color: Template:Libertarian Party (US)/meta/color; width: 5px;" | [[Libertarian Party (US)|Template:Libertarian Party (US)/meta/shortname]] Barry Hess 30,268 2.0
Democrat hold Swing

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