Valentine's Day has always been my favorite holiday. For me, it is a celebration of the warmest sentiments: love, friendship, passion, and compassion (and the sweet treats are an added bonus).
This year, in lieu of a traditional valentine, I am penning this online love letter to some of the most inspiring women in public service. Women leading from Congress to the Cabinet? That's sweet.
Aside from bringing greater diversity to the table and to the halls of government, women get results. We also know that they face higher hurdles and stricter scrutiny than their male counterparts in order to get there. For that alone, these women deserve a high-five and a hug.
To these women and to all the women I love who are changing the face of politics: Happy Valentine's Day.
Perhaps an obvious choice, but a ladies-who-lead list would be incomplete without Hillary Rodham Clinton at the top. It's no secret I am one of Hillary's biggest fans and strongest supporters. Hillary has been a bellwether for women's political progress for more than two decades. From First Lady to U.S. Senator to presidential candidate to Secretary of State, Hillary has wielded her power with unmatched grace.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen is a trailblazer. She was the first woman elected governor in New Hampshire and the first woman in history to be elected both governor and U.S. Senator. As dean of New Hampshire's all-woman Congressional delegation, Shaheen is leading the way not only in her home state but nationally. She was a vocal advocate for the Violence Against Women Act, just passed in the Senate. Her amendment to the federal military spending bill repealed an antiquated, discriminatory rule barring insurance coverage for abortions in the case of rape or incest for military women. Senator Shaheen is proof that women in office make a palpable difference.
For bringing diversity and a unique perspective to Congress--she is the only Hindu and one of two women combat veterans in Congress--U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii deserves a mention. From serving as a state representative at just 21 years old to serving in uniform in the Hawaii Army National Guard, Congresswoman Gabbard personifies the evolution of leadership.
Governor Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire is in a league of her own: She is currently the only woman, pro-choice governor anywhere in the country. Her ability to work across the aisle and to forge compromise--evidenced by her work as State Senate Majority Leader--will be tested as she begins her tenure in the corner office. Governor Hassan will no doubt break ground in the granite state.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris is a force to be reckoned with. Riffing on an American Prospect article about the foreclosure crisis and its aftermath, the Nation called Harris "the woman the banks fear most." She fought for Californians in national mortgage settlement negotiations with big banks. And she stands up for love: She stood strong against enforcing a ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage.