Olympia J. Snowe

Former United States Senator; Senior Fellow, Bipartisan Policy Center; Founder, Olympia Snowe Women’s Leadership Institute

Former United States Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) served in the U.S. Senate from 1995-2013 and as a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1979-1995. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of T. Rowe Price Group, Inc., serving on the Executive Compensation and Management Development Committee and as Chair of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee; a member of the Board of Directors of Synchrony Financial, serving on the Audit Committee and as Chair of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee; a Senior Fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., a 501(C)(3) organization, where she is a member of the board and Co-chairs its Commission on Political Reform; Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Kaiser Family Foundation; and Chairman and CEO of Olympia Snowe, LLC, through which she provides communications and policy advice. Olympia also serves on a number of non-profit boards and committees, including: the Board of Directors of the Commission on Presidential Debates; the Advisory Board of the Peterson Center on Healthcare; the Senior Advisory Committee of Harvard University’s Institute of Politics; the National Institute for Civil Discourse’s Board of Advisors; the Advisory Board of Square Roots, of which she is Co-Chair; and the Advisory Board of the Levin Center at Wayne Law. In 2015, Olympia was recognized as one of the “NACD Directorship 100,” an annual list developed by the National Association of Corporate Directors that recognizes leading corporate directors, corporate-governance experts, policymakers, and influencers who significantly impact boardroom practices and performance.

In 2014, Olympia founded the Olympia Snowe Women’s Leadership Institute, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to raising the confidence and aspirations of high school girls by helping them develop the skills required to be leaders in their lives, families, careers, and communities. In the few short years since its inception, the Institute’s three-year “My Values” (sophomore year), “My Voice” (junior year), and “My Vision” (senior year) program has grown rapidly, demonstrating significant impact on the lives of young women from across Olympia’s home state of Maine. Today, the charity that bears her name serves 465 students at 36 public high schools, pairing them with more than 200 trained advisors. Olympia currently serves as a member of the Institute’s Board and is the Honorary Chair.

Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1994, Olympia served in the Senate until January 2, 2013, after being re-elected 2006 to her third and final six-year term with 74 percent of the vote.

Before her election to the Senate, Olympia represented Maine’s Second Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives for sixteen years.  She was the first woman in American history to serve in both houses of a state legislature and both houses of Congress. When first elected, in 1978 at the age of 31, Olympia was the youngest Republican woman, and the first Greek-American woman, ever elected to Congress. She has won more federal elections in Maine than any other person since World War II, and is the third longest serving woman in the history of the Congress. While in the House, she co-chaired the Congressional Caucus on Women’s issues for ten years.

During Olympia’s distinguished career she served as Chair and then Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship; became the first Republican woman ever to secure a full-term seat on the Senate Finance Committee, the first woman Senator to chair the Subcommittee on Seapower of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which oversees the Navy and Marine Corps; and was a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, the Budget Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee. Olympia built a reputation as one of the Congress’ leading centrists, co-chairing the Senate Centrist Coalition from 1999-2006. In 2005 she was named the 54th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine. In 2006, Time Magazine named her one of the top ten U.S. Senators.

Born on February 21, 1947, and orphaned at 9 years old, she attended St. Basil Academy, a Greek Orthodox school in Garrison, New York, and graduated from Edward Little High School in Auburn, Maine. She earned a degree in political science from the University of Maine in 1969 and has received honorary doctorate degrees from Bowdoin College, Bates College, Colby College, University of Maine, University of Delaware, Northeastern University, University of Pennsylvania, and the University of New Hampshire School of Law. Her book FIGHTING FOR COMMON GROUND: How to Fix the Stalemate in Congress was published in May 2013.

Senator Snowe is married to former Maine Governor John R. McKernan Jr. and lives in Falmouth, Maine and Washington, D.C.