Jennifer M. Granholm was was elected governor of Michigan 2002. In 2006, she was re-elected with the largest number of votes ever cast for governor in Michigan. As Governor, Granholm led the state through a brutal economic downturn that resulted from a meltdown in the automotive and manufacturing sectors. She worked relentlessly to diversify the state’s economy, strengthen its auto industry, preserve the advanced manufacturing sector, and add new, emerging sectors, such as clean energy, to Michigan’s economic portfolio.
In addition to diversification, Granholm focused on creating jobs, attracting international investment, improving education, and training Michigan’s workers to promote Michigan’s long-term economic health. She pushed the state to double the number of college graduates and signed into law a college prep curriculum for every high school student in Michigan in addition to some of the toughest turnaround requirements for low-performing schools in the nation. In 2007, she launched No Worker Left Behind, a program that gave unemployed and under-employed citizens the opportunity to attend community college or technical school to receive training for high-demand jobs by offering state-paid tuition to Michigan’s displaced adults. The program enrolled more than 147,000 people, with a 75 percent job placement or retention rate—the best results in the nation. Community college enrollment in Michigan increased by 50 percent between 2000 and 2010.
During her tenure, she pioneered clean energy policies, working with business and labor, Republicans and Democrats to create new economic opportunities in Michigan. In 2005, the Granholm economic development team put together an aggressive strategy to make Michigan the hub of clean-energy development in North America by developing entire supply chains in Michigan, fostering critical partnerships between industry, government and researchers and by creating economic incentives that made Michigan the place to locate. Granholm’s plan included specific clustering strategies targeted at battery manufacturing, bio-energy, solar, and wind power. Her leadership attracted to Michigan more than 89,000 clean energy jobs and $9.4 billion in investments in that sector.
Under her leadership, Michigan had the second highest rate of child health care coverage in the nation despite the economic challenges. She received praise for her commitment to the cultivating new jobs in Michigan. During her tenure as governor, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation brought in nearly 4,000 companies or expansions projected to create 653,000 jobs. While serving as governor, Michigan was repeatedly named one of the top three states in the nation for business locations or expansions and was twice recognized by The Pew Center on the States as one of the best-managed states in the nation. According to the Gallup Job Creation Index, Michigan led the country in the improvement of job market conditions between 2009 and 2010. Granholm was also a fiscal hawk— cutting a greater percentage from state government than any state in the nation and resolving more than $14 billion in budget deficits. For example, she eliminated 25 percent of state departments, shut down 13 prison facilities, and reformed public employee benefits and pensions.
Prior to becoming governor, Granholm served as a judicial clerk for Michigan’s 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. She became a federal prosecutor in Detroit in 1990, and in 1994, she was appointed Wayne County Corporation Counsel. Granholm was elected Michigan’s first female attorney general in 1998.
Granholm is a Distinguished Practitioner of Law and Public Policy at UC Berkeley’s School of Law and Goldman School of Public Policy. She recently served as an advisor to Pew Charitable Trusts’ Clean Energy Program where she led a national campaign for clean energy policies. After leaving office, Granholm hosted Current TV’s political news analysis show “The War Room with Jennifer Granholm” and co-authored A Governor’s Story: The Fight for Jobs and America’s Economic Future, which tells how Michigan pioneered ways out of an economic storm and offers proven advice for a nation desperate to create jobs. The book, which she wrote with her husband, Dan Mulhern, became a Washington Post political bestseller shortly after its release.
Granholm is an honors graduate of both the University of California at Berkeley and Harvard Law School. She and her husband have three children.