Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Ella T. Grasso
Ella Rose Tambussi Grasso (May 10, 1919 - February 5, 1981) was an American politician. Born in Windsor Locks, Connecticut to Italian immigrant parents, she would become the first woman to be truly elected governor of a U.S. state in her own right rather than by succeeding a deceased husband or acting as his surrogate.
After attending St. Mary's School in Windsor Locks, and then the Chaffee School in Windsor, Grasso went on to Mount Holyoke College, in South Hadley, Massachusetts, where she was awarded her BA in 1940 and her MA in 1942. After graduation she served as assistant director of research for the War Manpower Commission of Connecticut .
In 1952, Grasso was elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives, and served until 1957. She became first woman to be elected floor leader of the House in 1955. In 1958 she was elected Secretary of State of Connecticut and was re-elected in 1962 and 1966. She was the first woman to chair the Democratic State Platform Committee and served from 1956 to 1968. She served as a member of the Platform Drafting Committee for the 1960 Democratic National Convention. She was the co-chairperson for the Resolutions Committee for the Democratic National Conventions of 1964 and 1968. In 1970 she was elected as a Democratic representive to the 92nd Congress, and won reelection in 1972.
On December 31, 1980, Grasso resigned her office due to her ovarian cancer, and died of it several weeks later on February 5, 1981. Later that year, President Ronald Reagan posthumously awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the National Women's Hall of Fame inducted her in 1993.
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