Geraldine A. Ferraro earned a place in history when she ran as the first female vice-presidential candidate on a national party ticket in 1984.
Before entering politics, Ferraro taught elementary school in the New York City Public Schools for five years. During that time, she also put herself through Fordham Law School at night. After spending 13 years at home raising her three children, she joined the Queens County District Attorney’s Office. There she started the Special Victims Bureau, supervising the prosecution of sex crimes, child abuse, domestic violence, and violent crimes against senior citizens.
Ferraro was first elected to Congress from New York’s Ninth Congressional District in Queens in 1978, and served three terms in the House of Representatives. Her committee assignments in Congress included the Public Works Committee, where she was a strong voice against the Reagan Administration’s economic policies. She spearheaded efforts to achieve passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, sponsored the Women’s Economic Equity Act (which ended pension discrimination against women), provided job options for displaced homemakers, and enabled homemakers to open IRAs. Geraldine also served on the Select Committee on Aging, where she was an advocate for the elderly, fighting proposed cuts in Social Security and Medicare.
Ferraro served as a public delegate in February 1993 and was also the alternate U.S. delegate to the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna in June 1993, and was vice-chair of the U.S. Delegation at the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in September 1995. In 1994, President Clinton appointed her the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, a post she held for two years. Afterwards, she expanded her visibility as a co-host on Crossfire, CNN’s political interview program. She left Crossfire to launch an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1998.
An active participant in the nation’s foreign policy debate, she serves as a Board member of the National Democratic Institute of International Affairs, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Ferraro has also been a partner in the CEO Perspective Group, a consulting firm that advises top executives.
In 1999, Ms. Ferraro became president of the Women’s Leadership Group at Weber McGinn Public Relations in Arlington, Virginia.
In addition to numerous articles, she has written three books: Ferraro, My Story (which recounts the ’84 campaign); Geraldine Ferraro: Changing History; and Framing a Life. She holds honorary degrees from colleges and universities nationwide, and currently serves as a board member of the Fordham Law School Board of Visitors, the New York Easter Seal Society, the National Italian American Foundation, the Board of Advocates of the Planned Parenthood Foundation of America, the Board of Advisors of the National Breast Cancer Research Fund, and the Pension Rights Center.
Ferraro was born in Newburgh, New York. She and her husband, realtor John Zaccaro, have three children.