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Elaine Lan Chao (traditional Chinese: 趙小蘭; pinyin: Zhào Xiǎolán; Wade-Giles: Chao Hsiao-lan; born March 26, 1953) served as the 24th United States Secretary of Labor in the Cabinet of President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2009. She was the first Chinese American and the first Asian American woman to be appointed to a President's cabinet in American history. Chao was the only cabinet member to serve under George W. Bush for his entire administration. She is married to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), the current U.S. Senate Minority Leader.
The eldest of six daughters, Chao was born in Taipei, Taiwan, to James S.C. Chao (趙錫成 Zhào Xīchéng), a Shanghainese entrepreneur, and Ruth Mu-lan Chu (朱木蘭 Zhū Mùlán), a historian. Her parents had fled to Taiwan from mainland China after the Chinese Communists took over as a result of the Chinese Civil War in 1949. At the age of eight, Elaine Chao and her family emigrated to the United States, where her father had already settled a few years earlier. She attended Syosset High School on Long Island, New York.
Chao received her B.A. in Economics from Mount Holyoke College in 1975 and her MBA from the Harvard Business School in 1979. Chao also studied at MIT, Dartmouth College, and Columbia University.