Nancy Pelosi is the most powerful woman in Washington, the first woman to be elected as speaker of the House and the highest ranking elected woman in American political history to this day.
That path to politics began when she was about 4 years old, when her father, Thomas D’Alesandro, was sworn in as a representative from Maryland’s 3rd District. As a child, Pelosi’s father would sometimes bring her and her five siblings into D.C. for a visit.
“The first time I remember coming to Washington, as a little girl, my father was in Congress, I was probably like 4 years old,” Pelosi said. “And he was being sworn in for a term in office … And coming in they said ‘Nancy! There’s the Capitol! There’s the Capitol! Do you see it?’ And I said ‘No, I don’t see it’... Finally they said ‘I can’t believe it, we’re really close to it, see the Capitol?’ I said ‘Well, is it a capital A, a capital B, a capital C?’”
Pelosi grew up as the only girl in a family with five brothers. She says she can’t necessarily state whether that made her stronger than she would have been without so many men around, but it did make her “unintimidated.”
Pelosi says that, even going into a male-dominated career like one in Congress, she emulated her mother most between her two parents.
“She had a big family; she was very much a partner with my father in terms of political organizing and the rest,” Pelosi said. “She was also a poet, she was an inventor, she was an astute businesswoman but she never could really follow any of those ambitions because of the era she lived in.”
Despite her father’s career in politics, Pelosi didn’t move from Baltimore to Washington fully until she went to Trinity College, to study political science. She was active in many causes and a stand-out student, and she also met her husband, who attended Georgetown, in the area.
After they got married, Pelosi and her husband Paul moved to New York, then San Francisco, where her husband grew up. Pelosi says that’s where she became involved in Democratic Party politics.
“My motivation every day is the one in five American children who live in poverty,” Pelosi said. “That’s what took me from kitchen to Congress, housewife to House speaker, is about the children. So I’m very focused on how everything that we do affects our children and their future.”
Residents of the Georgetown area sometimes see Pelosi around town or in church. Her political views on gender rights and abortion can sometimes get her in trouble with more conservative members of the Catholic faith, including her family, for being “too outspoken.”
“Really, if I said everything I wanted to say, it wouldn’t be a pretty sight,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi said she has spent her entire political life working for, and encouraging, more women and concerned citizens across the country to run for political office. That way, Congress will represent the diversity of America, and the ideals of the people they serve.