Rosa DeLauro

Rosa DeLauro

Induction Category:
Politics, Government & Law

Born: 1943

Inducted: 2013

Town: New Haven

Rosa DeLauro has served Connecticut’s third congressional district since 1990 and has been a powerful champion for women’s causes. During her time in Congress, she has taken on some of the most pressing issues including making healthcare more affordable, providing tax relief for working- and middle-class families, and helping women achieve equal pay for equal work. Known as a tenacious leader, DeLauro is Connecticut’s longest serving female congressional representative.

Born in 1943 in New Haven, Conn., DeLauro grew up in an Italian-American family. All four of her grandparents immigrated to the United States from Italy, her father Theodore arriving at the age of 13 without knowing any English. He worked hard and eventually became a successful New Haven Alderman affectionately known as the “Mayor of Wooster Square.” DeLauro’s mother, Luisa, was also active in community politics and went on to become the longest serving member of the New Haven Board of Alderman, from 1965-1999. Growing up, Rosa learned the value of hard work and education from her parents and saw them help members of their community take on difficult issues and problems.

After graduating from the Academy of Our Lady of Mercy, Lauralton Hall in Milford, DeLauro attended the London School of Economics and, in 1964, graduated with honors from Marymount College. Two years later, she received an M.A. in International Politics from Columbia University. Returning to New Haven, she campaigned door-to-door with her father and also became involved in community organizing, working with Frank Logue’s New Haven-based institute to train neighborhood volunteers for work in President Johnson’s War on Poverty and with the National Urban Fellows, an urban leadership development program seeking to create good job opportunities for minorities and women.

In 1975, Logue challenged New Haven Mayor Bart Guida, an incumbent democrat, and Rosa DeLauro became his campaign manager. The campaign was difficult but successful, and DeLauro became the first woman to hold the top administrative post in City Hall when she served as Executive Assistant to Mayor Logue. While working on Logue’s campaign, DeLauro also met her future husband Stanley Greenberg. The couple married in 1978.

Though she had never been involved in statewide politics, in 1979, Christopher Dodd tapped DeLauro as campaign manager for his first Senate race. She was the first woman in Connecticut to run a statewide campaign, and she was so successful that Senator Dodd asked her to be his Chief of Staff, a role she held for seven years. During this time, DeLauro was diagnosed with Stage 1 ovarian cancer and underwent several months of radiation treatment before being declared cancer-free. She credits this experience with fueling her passion for healthcare reform and her advocacy efforts on behalf of women’s health research.

In 1987, DeLauro left Senator Dodd’s office to pursue independent advocacy work. She became executive director of Countdown ’87, a group which lobbied Congress to end military aid to rebel forces in Nicaragua, and successfully brought U.S. aid to the Nicaraguan Contras to an end. She went on two years later to serve as the first director of EMILY’S List, a national organization dedicated to increasing the number of women in elected office.

When Connecticut Congressman Bruce Morrison decided to run for governor in 1990, Rosa DeLauro was encouraged by Nancy Pelosi to run for his seat. Her first platform focused on family issues, jobs and taxes, and she ran against Republican Tom Scott. The race was close, but DeLauro defeated her opponent 52% to 48% and has not faced such a close election since.

Throughout her time in Congress, DeLauro has focused on issues like education, healthcare, food safety, access to food and nutrition programs, pay equity for women and paid sick leave. She has also been a strong voice in Congress, often recognized by members from both parties for her outstanding leadership and dedication to her work. In 1999, her colleagues elected her assistant to the Democratic Leader, making her the second highest ranking female Democrat in Congress at the time. She has been recognized as one of the House of Representatives’ top “workhorses” by Washingtonian magazine.

A lifelong resident of New Haven, DeLauro has actively sought to make an impact on her local community. In 1991, she established the Ted DeLauro Scholarship in memory of her father and funds the scholarship through donations of Congressional pay raises and cost-of-living adjustments. In 2002, she founded the Maria Baez Perez Scholarship to honor a former staffer who helped constituents through her work on immigration, social security and healthcare before passing away at the age of 33. Another program, Rosa’s Readers, was established in 1999 to increase interest in reading among 3rd district first graders. She has been recognized with numerous awards including the 2010 Ovarian Cancer National Alliance Hope Award, the 2012 Connecticut Multicultural Health Partnership Public Service Award, and the 2013 Champion of Science Award.

Rosa DeLauro currently serves as co-chair of the House Steering and Policy Committee and is the ranking member on the Labor, Health, Human Services and Education Appropriations sub-committee. She splits her time between Washington, D.C., and her Congressional district.

During This Time
1966 - Today: Struggle for Justice