Nation's only three-term woman governor is ISU's spring Mary Louise Smith Chair

AMES, Iowa -- Madeleine Kunin, the first and only woman to serve as governor of Vermont and former ambassador to Switzerland, will visit Iowa State University on Thursday, April 24, as the Spring 2008 Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics.

The nation's only three-term woman governor (1985-1991), Kunin will discuss her new book, "Pearls, Politics, and Power: How Women Can Win and Lead," in a presentation at 7:30 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union. The event is free and open to the public.

Informed by conversations with elected women leaders from all levels, Kunin's new book asks: What difference do women make? What is the worst part of politics, and what is the best part? What inspired these women to run, and how did they prepare themselves for public life? How did they raise money, protect their families' privacy, and deal with criticism and attack ads?

"It is time for a call to action, for new political leadership to emerge from the women of America," wrote Kunin about the book on her Web site ( "The stories of the women in this book and thousands of others like them who hold elective and appointive offices all over America are making a difference."

"Madeleine Kunin hopes to inspire the next generation of women leaders through stories of female politicians who have succeeded at all levels of government," said Dianne Bystrom, director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, which hosts the Mary Louise Smith Chair. "Her core message is that the United States needs an infusion of new leadership to better address the major problems of our time."

Prior to serving as governor, Kunin was lieutenant governor of Vermont from 1979-1983 and a member of the general assembly from 1973-1979. She also served as U.S. deputy secretary of education from 1993-1996 and as Ambassador to her native Switzerland from 1996-1999. She currently is the Marsh Scholar Professor-at-Large at the University of Vermont, where she lectures on history and women's studies. She also serves as board president of the Institute for Sustainable Communities, a nongovernmental organization she founded in 1991.

In addition to "Pearls, Politics, and Power," Kunin is the author of the books "Living a Political Life" (1994) and "The Big Green Book" (1976). She has written numerous articles and columns for national newspapers and magazines, including the Washington Post, Boston Globe and Christian Science Monitor.

The former governor and ambassador has received numerous awards for her work on the environment, education and human services. She earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts, and master's degrees in journalism from Columbia University and English literature from the University of Vermont.

Kunin is the 17th prominent woman leader to visit Iowa State under sponsorship of the Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics, which was established in 1995 to honor the Iowa native and longtime political leader. Smith was the only woman to chair the Republican National Party (1974-1977).