The month of May is designated as Jewish American Heritage Month and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (University of Florida, 1989) was one of the leading advocates for the resolution that established Jewish American Heritage Month. We are pleased to highlight several members from these culturally rich communities.
Elaine L. Chao
SUNY Plattsburgh, 1996
Elaine L. Chao served the United States as the 24th Secretary of Labor from 2001-09 and the 18th Secretary of Transportation from 2017-21. Born in Taipei, Chao was the first Asian-American woman and the first Taiwanese American to be appointed to the President’s Cabinet. Earlier in her career, she worked for several financial institutions before working in the Department of Transportation under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush (Harding University, 1997). In addition, Chao was the president of the United Way of America from 1993-96.
Chao’s family eventually moved to Long Island, New York. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College with her Bachelor of Arts degree and earned her MBA from the Harvard Business School. She has served the Society as a member of the Foundation Board of Trustees. Chao is a 2000 recipient of the Eldridge W. Roark, Jr. Meritorious Service Award.
Joseph L. Goldstein
Washington and Lee University, 1961
Joseph L. Goldstein was one of the 1985 recipients of the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology. The award recognized their work related to human cells, receptors, and cholesterol and the risk for the development of coronary heart disease. The work of Goldstein and his colleagues led to the development of statin drugs to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Goldstein received his Bachelor of Science from Washington and Lee and his medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He spent part of his career at the National Institutes of Health, but he returned to the Southwestern Medical Center in 1972 to become the chair of the Division of Medical Genetics.
In addition to his Nobel Prize, Goldstein is a 1988 recipient of the National Medal of Science. He is also one of the 2003 co-winners of the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research. Goldstein is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
Wallace L. Loh
University of Maryland, College Park, 2011
Wallace L. Loh served as the president of the University of Maryland, College Park, from 2010-20. Prior to his appointment at Maryland, he was the provost and executive vice president at the University of Iowa. He also served as the dean of the law school at the University of Washington and as a vice chancellor at the University of Colorado.
Loh was born in Shanghai, and with his family, he moved to Lima, Peru, after the Communist Revolution in 1949. He first came to the U.S. to attend college at Grinnell. Loh went on to earn a master’s from Cornell, a doctorate in psychology from Michigan, and a law degree from Yale. Loh is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has served on the board for the American Council of Education. Loh was also the recipient of the American Immigration Council’s 16th Annual Immigrant Achievement Award.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
University of Florida, 1989
Deborah “Debbie” Wasserman Schultz is the current congresswoman representing Florida’s 23rd congressional district. She was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2004 and is the first female Jewish representative from Florida. Before her time in Congress, Wasserman Schultz was a member of the Florida State legislature. She has served as the chair of the Democratic National Party. In the 117th Congress, she is serving on the House Committee on Appropriations and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
Wasserman Schultz earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts, both in political science, from the University of Florida. As a student, she served as president of the Student Senate and was involved in residence life. Wasserman Schultz was also the president of the Graduate Student Council. She remains active with the National Jewish Democratic Council and is a breast cancer survivor and advocate.