In 1998 Jennifer Granholm made history when she became the first woman to be elected as attorney general for the state of Michigan. Four years later, voters chose her as the state’s first woman governor. As member of the Democratic Party, she served two terms leading Michigan through a brutal economic downturn that resulted from the Great Recession. This includes successfully resolving more than $4 billion in budget deficits. After leaving office in 2011, Granholm continued a path as a career public servant. Notably, she served as an advisor to Pew Charitable Trusts’ Clean Energy Program, where she led a national campaign for clean energy policies. She also hosted Current TV’s political news analysis show The War Room with Jennifer Granholm. Standing on the shoulders of the women politicians who came before her, Granholm has established herself as a trailblazer in politics. She has hired, promoted, and appointed many women and other minorities to numerous positions that were once difficult for members of such groups to obtain. In addition to politics, she is also the founder of the American Jobs Project, a multi-state, multi-university initiative promoting technological advancements that stimulate clean energy solutions. In February 2021, Granholm was sworn in as the 16th Secretary of Energy, becoming just the second woman to lead the U.S. Department of Energy.
Granholm's interest in social justice can be traced back to her days as a rabble-rouser at Harvard Law. After arriving in the mid-80's, she quickly became a prominent figure in the campus activism scene. From encampments to sit-ins to blockades, Granholm helped to organize the Law School branch of the University-wide divestment movement. At Harvard Law, she also converted to Catholicism, drawn by its tradition of social justice. On top of that, Granholm served as Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, the leading progressive law journal in the U.S. In 1987 she received a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard, graduating with honors.
Since graduating, Granholm has remained a valuable member of the Harvard community. In 2002, while running for governor of Michigan, she made time to give Harvard Law Today an interview where she discussed her days as a student on the Cambridge campus and the reason why she was admitted in the first place. "I got to go to Harvard Law School,” she said, "not because I’m smarter than everyone else, but because I worked like a dog."
Action has always been a key theme for Granholm. She returned to her alma mater in 2008 as part of the first Celebration of Public Interest at Harvard Law School, an event which brought together hundreds of the school’s alumni involved in public service careers. During a public exchange with the dean of the Harvard Law School, Granholm had choice words for the next generation of lawyers considering public interest professions. "Be doers. Don't be satisfied. And express your dissatisfaction through action.