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Biography

Carol Moseley Braun
Ambassador to New Zealand and the Independent State of Samoa

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Carol Moseley Braun, the first former U.S. Senator to hold the post of American Ambassador to New Zealand, presented her credentials to New Zealand's Governor-General, Sir Michael Hardie Boys, in Wellington on December 15, 1999.

The daughter of a law enforcement officer and a medical technician, Ambassador Moseley Braun was educated in the Chicago public schools at the elementary and secondary level. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Illinois in 1969, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1972. Following law school, she married Michael Braun, a classmate, and after a brief period in private practice became an Assistant United States Attorney. As an AUSA, her primary duties were in civil litigation, for which she won the Attorney General's Special Achievement Award in 1975. Ambassador Moseley Braun left the Department of Justice in 1977 when her son Matthew was born.

After spending time as a homemaker, she was recruited by neighbors to stand for election to the state legislature. Her election in 1978 was hailed as inaugurating "the year of the woman," a description that was repeated in 1992. As a member of the Illinois General Assembly, she built a distinguished legislative record in which public education finance and reform was emphasized. An independent Democrat, she was nonetheless made Assistant Majority Leader and named "Conscience of the House" upon her retirement in 1987. She thereafter stood for countywide executive office, and in 1988 was elected Recorder of Deeds.

Toward the end of her first term as Recorder, Ambassador Moseley Braun stood for the United States Senate and made political history when she was elected in 1992 to America's highest legislative body. She has the distinction of being the first woman from Illinois elected to the Senate and was the sole African-American in the Senate from 1992-1998.

As only the second African-American to serve in the Senate this century, Ambassador Moseley Braun was the object of constituency demands on a national scale. She fought hard on issues of minority rights and education, amassing a solid legislative record. A notable Senate victory came after Ambassador Moseley Braun made an impassioned speech arguing for the defeat of a patent on the Confederate flag, a symbol of slavery in the pre-American Civil War South.

Ambassador Moseley Braun was the first, and only, woman to serve as a permanent member of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. She also served on the Judiciary Committee, the Banking Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, the Small Business and Aging Committees, and the bipartisan commission on Entitlements and Tax Reform. Her legislative initiatives included the innovative Education Infrastructure Act, the Women's Pension Equity Act, and historic preservation for the Underground Railroad. She played an active role in policy-making on financial services, taxes and entitlements.

Since her first foray into electoral politics, Ambassador Moseley Braun has demonstrated a commitment to building multiracial coalitions of people concerned about the public interest, and has been an advocate of consensus building and practical decision-making.

Most recently, she served as a consultant to the United States Department of Education.

With a vote of 98 to 2 the United States Senate confirmed Ambassador Moseley Braun as Ambassador Designate to New Zealand and Samoa on November 10, 1999. President Clinton stated that "the Senate's overwhelming bipartisan vote is a strong endorsement of her outstanding experience and credentials for the position. I expect her to do a superior job representing our country's very significant interests in New Zealand." Vice President Gore presided over her swearing-in ceremony on December 9, 1999.

Released by the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs January 2000.

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