1. Kathleen Gilligan was born May 15, 1948, in Cincinnati. She was the second oldest of four children born to John and Katie Gilligan.
2. Kathleen's father, John Gilligan, was a Democratic politician. While she was young, he was a member of the local city council. He went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and was governor of Ohio from 1971 to 1975.
3. Kathleen attended all-girls schools all the way through college. She thrived in that environment, where, she has said, she "was never told, overtly or covertly, girls couldn't do everything."
4. In 1966, Kathleen moved to Washington, D.C., to attend Trinity College. She graduated in 1970 with a degree in political science.
5. While she was living in Washington, Kathleen met Gary Sebelius, who was then a law student at Georgetown. He is the child of a politician as well—his father, Keith Sebelius, was a prominent Kansas Republican who served in the House of Representatives. The two were married on New Year's Eve in 1974 in the Ohio governor's mansion during her father's term as governor.
6. The couple moved to Topeka, Kan., where Kathleen worked at the Kansas Department of Corrections while working on her master's degree in public administration, which she received from the University of Kansas in 1977.
7. Sebelius was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives in 1987, where she served four terms. She was known for her focus on child and family issues.
8. In 1994, Sebelius was elected to the post of Kansas insurance commissioner. Her victory surprised many—she was the first Democrat elected to that position since the 1880s. She served two terms in this office, where she became known for her cost cutting and an emphasis on customer service.
9. Sebelius was elected Kansas governor in 2002. When she was sworn in, she became the first-ever daughter of a governor to be elected governor in her own right.
10. She was re-elected in 2006 and has since gained national prominence—she has served as the leader of the Democratic Governors Association and was chosen to deliver the response to President Bush's State of the Union address in 2008.
Kansas City Star
Scripps Howard News Service