1. Michael Steele, who was adopted as an infant, was born at Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George's County, Md., on Oct. 19, 1958.
2. He grew up in a family of Democrats. Steele credits his mother, Maebell, and Ronald Reagan with turning him toward the Republican Party. Reagan's pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps message recalled a trait Steele's mother exhibited after her first husband, Steele's father, died in 1962 of alcoholism-related liver disease. She refused to go on welfare. Instead, she went to work as a laundress earning minimum wage to support Michael and his sister.
3. One of the first in his family to go to college, he earned a bachelor's degree in international relations from Johns Hopkins University and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. Steele also spent a few years at the Augustinian Friars Seminary at Villanova University, in preparation for the priesthood, before deciding instead on a career in civil service.
4. After graduating from law school in 1991, Steele joined Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, an international law firm, based in Washington, D.C. In 1997, he left and worked briefly at the Mills Corp., a real estate development firm based in Virginia, as in-house counsel. He then went out on his own, starting a consulting firm, the Steele Group.
5. Steele rose quickly in the Republican Party, beginning at the local level in Prince George's County as chair of the Prince George's County Republican Central Committee from 1994 to 2000. Then, he was elected chairman of the Maryland Republican Party in December 2000.
6. Steele became the first African-American elected to statewide office in Maryland, taking office as lieutenant governor in January 2003.
7. In 2004, Steele was tapped to speak at the Republican National Convention, eliciting comparisons with Barack Obama's keynote address at the Democratic convention.
8. When Sen. Paul Sarbanes, a Democrat, announced he would not seek re-election, several prominent Republicans, including President Bush, persuaded Steele to run for the Senate seat. In November 2006, Steele lost the election to Democrat Ben Cardin.
9. On Feb. 1, 2007, Steele was named the chairman of GOPAC, a political action committee working to elect Republicans to office (Newt Gingrich once held the same position).
10. A devout Catholic, Steele is a member of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Landover Hills, Md. He regularly attends services with his wife, Andrea, and their sons, Michael and Drew.
The Associated Press State & Local Wire
The Baltimore Sun
Contemporary Black Biography
GOPAC: Chairman's Corner
Maryland Office of the Governor
Maryland Republican Party
Maryland State Archives
Michael Steele for Maryland
Red County Magazine: 10 Questions with Michael Steele
The Washington Post
Who's Who Among African Americans
Updated on 3/3/09