Congresswoman Martha McSally (R) and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao (R) hosted a “Women in Leadership” roundtable this week.
McSally and Chao were joined by former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R), as well as a dozen businesswomen throughout the state.
McSally and Chao shared their origin stories and how they got into the positions they currently hold.
McSally shared how the grief of losing her father at the age of 12 helped her become a leader, especially for women.
“[His death] started my journey…there was a lot of grief, a lot of confusion, it was a rough time,” McSally said. “Instead of being crushed, which I almost was… I was propelled to action in order to fight for others. In order to follow in his legacy.”
Chao, who immigrated to the United States at age 8, became the first Asian-American woman and Chinese-American to be appointed to the President’s cabinet.
“My parents left China at the height of the Chinese Civil War,” Chao said. “He and my mother wanted a better life, so where do you think they went? Where do you think they wanted to go? America…they knew that America stood for hope and opportunity.”
According to Chao, her parents always encouraged her, saying it didn’t matter what gender she was, as long as she worked hard and dreamed she could accomplish anything.
Chao, who embodies the “American Dream,” endorsed McSally, who is running against Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (D) for Senator Jeff Flake’s (R) open seat.
“I’m actually a tremendous fan of Congresswoman Martha McSally,” Chao shared. “I’m honored to be your wingwoman. When you say you’re a fighter, you’re fighting for others, you’re fighting for our country, you’re fighting for a cause that will make America better…You’re fighting for all of us.”
Throughout McSally’s time as both a pilot in the United States Air Force and a Congresswoman, she has fought for women’s rights.
She served in the Air Force from 1998 to 2010, achieving the title of Colonel and becoming one of the highest-ranking female pilots in the history of the Air Force. She was also the first American woman to fly in combat after the lifting of the prohibition on female combat pilots.
In 2001, McSally successfully sued the United State Department of Defense, challenging a military policy that required servicewomen in Saudi Arabia to wear burkas when traveling off base.
“Martha McSally challenged that conventional wisdom, and she won,” Chao said. “She fought for all of the women soldiers to have equal footing and to be able to wear the uniform of the United States Army armed forces with pride all around the country without having to put anything, like a burka, that would take away from the fact that they were warriors for our nation.”
McSally also spearheaded the Women Airforce Service Pilots Arlington Inurnment Restoration Act, which restored the eligibility of female World War II pilots at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as, creating a working group on women in the 21st century, which took an in-depth look at the root causes of the challenges women face in the workforce. McSally found that the cost of childcare was one of the biggest barriers and then worked to preserve the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.
According to McSally, “people definitely know me as a fighter, but I think it’s important to know why I fight. I fight because I care about opportunities for people.”
Recent polls have McSally in a dead heat against Sinema for the Arizona U.S. Senate Seat. Sinema announced raising $7 million in the third quarter 2018, a massive haul compared to previous fundraising announcements. Political analyst Jennifer Duffy recently predicted that the Arizona matchup will be the closest race in the nation.
McSally also received the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business organization representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations.