Senator Barbara Mikulski was raised in the Highlandtown neighborhood of Baltimore, attended Catholic schools, and was a social worker in the 1960s. After organizing neighborhoods to fight a major highway project, Mikulski won election to the Baltimore City Council in 1971, where she served for five years.
In 1976, she ran for Congress and represented Maryland’s 3rd district for 10 years. She became the first Democratic woman senator elected in her own right in 1986. She served in the Senate for 30 years, becoming the longest-serving woman both in the Senate and in Congress. As the Dean of the Women, Senator Mikulski mentored other women senators through her bipartisan dinners and power workshops to train newly elected women. Throughout her career, Mikulski has worked to pass legislation to protect the most vulnerable members of society and to advance scientific research and democracy around the world. Senator Mikulski was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2015.
Senator Mikulski retired from the U.S. Senate on January 3, 2017. She is the Homewood Professor of Political Science at John Hopkins University, and she participates in national speaking engagements on the topics of leadership, innovation, and women’s empowerment.