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Programs >> Women's Leadership Initiatives >> Lindy Boggs Award >> Janet Reno, 2003
Janet Reno, 2003

 The nation's first female Attorney General, Reno headed the world's largest justice and law enforcement office (125,000 employees) for nearly eight years. Her courage, vision and dedication to both duty and principle are legendary - and have made her one of the country's most admired women. She was responsible for the enforcement of federal laws and for representing the government in court. During her watch, crime was dramatically reduced and heightened professionalism became the order of the day in the law enforcement community.

Known throughout government for integrity, independence and respect for the rules of law and evidence, Reno has worked ceaselessly to make justice a reality for all Americans. The longest serving Attorney General since before the Civil War, she used the authority of her office to enforce civil rights, environment and health statutes with the same professionally innovative approaches that achieved conventional crime rate reductions throughout her tenure.

In 1960 Reno enrolled at Harvard Law School, one of only 16 women in a class of more than 500 students. She received her LL.B. from Harvard Law three years later. Despite her Harvard degree, Reno had difficulty obtaining work as a lawyer. One of Miami's biggest firms denied her a position because she was a woman. Fourteen years later, that same firm made her a partner.

A native daughter of South Florida, Reno graduated from Coral Gables High School, Cornell University and Harvard Law School. Prior to her appointment as Attorney General, she served for 15 years as the State Attorney for Dade County.

Reno (a debating champion in high school) possesses a sharp mind, strong voice and keen wit. She lives at the family home that her mother built in South Florida and hopes to see more of the country in her red truck. Reno serves on the Board of Directors for the Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization which assists prisoners who could be exonerated through DNA testing. She continues to be involved with the issues important to her, including dispute resolution, advocacy for children and the elderly, and problem solving in law enforcement.