Michael Stephen Steele (born October 19, 1958) is an American politician who served as the first African-American chairman of the Republican National Committee from January 2009 until January 2011. From 2003 to 2007, he was the seventh Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, the first African American elected to statewide office in Maryland. During his time as Lieutenant Governor, he chaired the Minority Business Enterprise taskforce, actively promoting an expansion of affirmative action in the corporate world.
In 2006, Steele made an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate, losing to Democrat Ben Cardin. He then served as chairman of GOPAC, the political training organization of the Republican party, was a political commentator for Fox News and a partner at the law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf before making his bid for RNC Chairman. He co-founded the Republican Leadership Council, a "fiscally conservative and socially inclusive" political action committee, in 1993. On December 13, 2010, he announced his intentions to seek a second term as Republican National Committee Chair. On January 14, 2011, after four rounds of voting, Steele dropped out of the race and endorsed Maria Cino. Reince Priebus went on to win the election to succeed Steele.
Steele was born on October 19, 1958 at Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George's County, Maryland and was adopted as an infant by William and Maebell Steele. William died in 1962. Maebell, who had been born into a sharecropping family in South Carolina, worked for minimum wage as a laundress to raise her children. After Michael's father died, she ignored her friends' appeals to apply for public assistance, later telling Michael 'I didn't want the government raising my children'. She later married John Turner, a truck driver. Michael and his sister, Monica Turner, were raised in the Petworth neighborhood of Northwest Washington, D.C. which Steele has described as a small, stable and racially integrated community that insulated him from some of the problems elsewhere in the city. Steele's sister later married and divorced former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson.