10 Things You Didn't Know About Janet Napolitano

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1. On Nov. 29, 1957, Janet Ann Napolitano was born in New York City. Napolitano grew up in Pittsburgh and Albuquerque, N.M., where she attended high school.

2. Growing up, Napolitano was a Girl Scout and is a lifetime member.

3. Napolitano loves music. She enjoys listening to opera and played the clarinet in the band at Sandia High School. As a senior, she was named the best musician in her class.

4. After high school, Napolitano followed in her father's footsteps and attended Santa Clara University, where she studied political science. In 1979, she was valedictorian of her graduating class, the first female to earn the honor in the school's history.

5. In 1984, a year after receiving her J.D. from University of Virginia, Napolitano worked at the Phoenix law firm Lewis & Roca. Napolitano worked at the firm for 10 years, making partner in 1989.

6. In a close race in 1998, Napolitano was elected Arizona's attorney general. State history was made in that election because women were elected into the top positions of governor, attorney general, state treasurer, secretary of state, and superintendent of public instruction. The women were nicknamed the "Fab Five".

7. During her first term as governor, Napolitano focused on education. She implemented a full-day kindergarten, started a literacy program, and secured funding for an increase in teacher pay. In 2005, Time named her one of the five best governors in the United States.

8. When Napolitano was first elected governor of Arizona in 2002, less than 12,000 votes separated her from her opponent, Republican Matt Salmon. Napolitano's 2006 re-election was a landslide: She received 63 percent of the vote.

9. Napolitano has been active in the National Governors Association, for which she has served on the executive committee since 2007. She has also served as vice chair and became the first woman to serve as chair.

10. Reading, whitewater rafting, and hiking are some of Napolitano's hobbies. She has hiked in Arizona's Superstition mountains and New Mexico's Sandia mountains and has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and the Himalayas.


  • Arizona Capitol Times
  • The American Prospect
  • The Arizona Republic (Phoenix)
  • The Associated Press State & Local Wire
  • Business Journal-Phoenix & the Valley of the Sun
  • Campaigns & Elections
  • Current Biography Yearbook
  • Phoenix New Times (Arizona)
  • Time
  • US States News
  • www.azgovernor.gov/

Corrected on 11/25/2008: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Gov. Janet Napolitano’s college. She attended Santa Clara University.