Wellesley Celebrates Alumnae Elected to Public Office in Year of Historic Firsts

January 11, 2019

After Hillary Rodham Clinton ’69 attempted to shatter “the highest and hardest glass ceiling” in 2016, becoming the first woman in history to run for president as a major party candidate, she urged women to keep fighting. And in the 2018 midterm elections, women across the country—and across Wellesley’s alumnae network—answered the call.

The 2018 midterm elections were a watershed moment for U.S. women in politics. A record-breaking number ran for seats in Congress during the 2018 midterm elections (255, according to the Brookings Institution); 116 won their seats. As of January 3, women make up nearly a quarter of Congress—not quite parity, but an important step in adding more diverse voices to the conversations driving changes in law and public policy.

The newly convened 116th Congress is the most diverse in U.S. history, with record numbers of African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American, and LBGTQ members as well as the first Muslim and Native American women elected to Congress. They campaigned on issues of equity and access, including improved voting access, greater transparency in the election process, social and reproductive justice, and better employment and educational opportunities.

Wellesley is proud to count seven alumnae among those newly sworn in as elected government officials. They include veteran legislators, often the first women to have held office in their districts, as well as first-timers. Harriette Chandler ’59, Massachusetts state senator, and Edith Tucker ’94, New Hampshire State Representative, were both re-elected. Diana DiZoglio ’11, a former Massachusetts state representative, was sworn in as a state senator; and Jocelyn Benson ’99 took the oath of office as Michigan’s first Democratic secretary of state in 24 years. Emily Randall ’08 won a close race for Washington State senate. Liz Miranda ’02 and Lindsay Sabadosa ’02 are new members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

Of the 11 women in the Massachusetts state senate, two are Wellesley alumnae, and three alumnae hold seats in the House of Representatives. “We have our own informal Wellesley caucus here in the [Massachusetts] State House—five women leaders who I hope will inspire future Wellesley women to run and serve,” said Chandler.

Jocelyn Benson stands before a crowd in Michigan at her swearing in ceremony.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (center left) and former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm (right) look on as Jocelyn Benson ’99 delivers remarks after being sworn in as Michigan’s 43rd secretary of state on January 1, 2019. Benson, the first Democrat to be elected to that position in the state in 24 years, has vowed to improve voting rights, ethics, and transparency. At Wellesley, Benson was the first student to serve on the local governing body in the Town of Wellesley.

Photo credit: John F. Martin Photography

Massachusetts State Senator Harriette Chandler and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Massachusetts State Sen. Harriette L. Chandler ’59 met with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on the campaign trail last fall. Chandler, a Democrat, has served on the Massachusetts Senate for the 1st Worcester District since 2001 and was re-elected this year, running unopposed. She was the 94th president of the Massachusetts State Senate, from 2017 to 2018, and was previously the Democratic Senate majority leader. Chandler is joined in the Massachusetts State Congress by Sen. Diana DiZoglio ’11 and Rep. Carolyn Dykema ’89.

Lindsay Sabadosa and Liz Miranda form two Wellesley "W" with their hands.

State representatives Lindsay Sabadosa ’02 and Liz Miranda ’02 show their Wellesley pride at the Massachusetts State House on swearing-in day, January 3, 2019. In November, Sabadosa (a Democrat) became the first woman elected as state representative for the 1st Hampshire District. She has been a longtime champion and activist for social and reproductive justice, and founded the Pioneer Valley Women’s March in 2017. Miranda (also a Democrat) was elected as state representative for the 8th Suffolk District; she is known for her activism and community organizing in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, where she served as the second executive director of the Hawthorne Youth and Community Center. Miranda was the keynote speaker for a mini-conference on social justice at Wellesley in January 2017.

Credit: Lindsay Sabadosa Facebook

Diana DiZoglio at her swearing in ceremony.

State Senator Diana DiZoglio ’11 (center) is sworn into office at the 191st Massachusetts State Senate Inauguration, along with newly elected state senators Becca Rausch (left) and Barry Finegold (right). DiZoglio, a Democrat, represents the 1st Essex District, and from 2013 until her election as state senator, she served as a state representative for the 14th Essex District.

Edith Tucker speaks at a podium.

Edith Tucker DS ’94, a Democrat from the 5th Coos District, was elected to her second term in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Here, she addresses the House for the first time, speaking in favor of the state helping maintain the financial viability of a state-of-the-art biomass plant in the nearby city of Berlin.

Emily Randall speaks to a group of individuals.

Washington State Senator Emily Randall ’08 (second from right) was elected in a close race to the 26th Legislative District. She said her time and experiences at Wellesley were instrumental in her decision to run for office: “Wellesley was such a huge part of my inspiration to run—it was on campus that I grew as a leader and on campus that I made the decision [on Election Night 2016], and it was Wellesley alumnae who gave me my first campaign contributions.”