Elaine Lan Chao was nominated by Donald Trump on November 29 to be Secretary of Transportation and confirmed by a Senate vote of 93 to 6 on January 31. Chao was born in Tapei, Taiwan in 1953 and moved to the U.S. with her parents in 1961. She attended Mount Holyoke and Harvard Business School before going to work in the early 1980s for Bank of America Corp. (BAC) and Citigroup Inc. (C).

Because she is a Washington insider, Chao is slightly out of line with Trump's other nominees. Chao has served in the federal government in various roles since 1986. Her first post was deputy administrator of the Maritime Administration in the U.S. Department of Transportation under President Reagan. In 1988 she was appointed chairwoman of the Federal Maritime Commission, and in 1989 George H. W. Bush added her to his government as DOT deputy secretary. Under George W. Bush she served as the Secretary of Labor for his full term.

Chao is notable among Trump's cabinet picks for her deep Washington experience. Having worked in federal government for three decades, Chao is very much an insider, and not just at the executive level. On the legislative side, she is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from Kentucky. Chao also has experience in the world of Washington D. C. think tanks: She was a Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, from 2009 to 2012 where she published on government and economics.

According to the New York Times, Chao is "an unapologetically ambitious operator with an expansive network, a short fuse, and a seemingly inexhaustible drive to get to the top and stay there." Ms. Chao comes from a family of achievers. Her father is described as a shipping magnate by the Times, and her younger sisters married Wall Street titans like the late billionaire Bruce Wasserstein. Networking is the thing she does best, a talent that could make Transportation a standout department in the Trump administration.

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