M. Jodi Rell

Born:June 16, 1946 (age 73)
Career:Governor of Connecticut, 2004-2011
Lieutenant governor of Connecticut, 1995-2004
Connecticut State House of Representatives, 1985-1995

M. Jodi Rell, the 87th governor of Connecticut from 2004 to 2011, was the state's second female governor and its first female Republican governor.

Rell was born in Norfolk, Virginia, on June 16, 1946. She attended Dominion University, but left in 1967 to marry U.S. Navy Pilot, Lou Rell. She continued her education in 1969 at Western Connecticut State University. Rell received honorary doctor of law degrees from the University of Hartford in 2001 and the University of New Haven in 2004.

Before her term as governor, Rell served as lieutenant governor from 1995 to 2004 and in the state House of Representatives from 1985 to 1995, representing the 107th House District of Brookfield. While in the state house, Rell held the leadership positions of deputy house minority leader and assistant house minority leader. As lieutenant governor, Rell worked to guarantee that Connecticut schools and libraries had access to technology and students were "cyber-ready" by 6th grade. This project created the Connecticut Education Network, the United States' first all-optical network. Rell also initiated a new law for World War II veterans to receive a high school diploma if their service had inhibited them from graduating from high school. Also as lieutenant governor, Rell secured funding for thermal imagining cameras used by firefighters in over 300 fire departments in Connecticut.

During her seven years as governor, Rell focused her efforts on multiple issues, including the state's fiscal crisis, education, transportation, the environment, healthcare, and government reform. She advocated for early childhood programs and education aid, as well as creating new penalties for career criminals. Rell's focus on safety and the fiscal crisis combined in 2004 when she worked to end housing prisoners in out-of-state facilities so as to keep money in Connecticut. In 2005, Connecticut, under Rell's leadership, became the first state to adopt civil unions for same-sex couples, while still retaining the rights, responsibilities, and privileges the state gives to heterosexual couples.