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Lifetime's Remarkable Women campaign honors extraordinary women who inspire and empower others to make a difference in their communities and the world.
February 13: Debbie Stabenow
Debbie Stabenow, United States Senator, State of Michigan Age: 58 Hometown: Gladwin, Michigan Education: Michigan State University (B.A. and M.S.W.) Family: Husband Tom Athans, children Todd and Michelle, daughter-in-law Sara, granddaughter Lilly and stepdaughter Gina.
Born and raised in Michigan, United States Senator Debbie Stabenow knows what matters to her state. She made history in 2000 when she became the first woman from Michigan elected to the United States Senate, and was overwhelmingly reelected to a second term in 2006.
A nationally recognized leader, Senator Stabenow is respected for her ability to build coalitions to get things done for Michigan and our nation. Her recent appointment to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and membership on the Senate Finance, Agriculture and Budget Committees, have given her a powerful and unique role to play in shaping our nation's health care, manufacturing and energy policies, all of which are so critical to our future. She has risen in Senate leadership as Senate Conference Secretary and now Chair of the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee.
Senator Stabenow is bringing manufacturing issues, critical to Michigan's future, to the forefront in Congress, and is committed to making sure our nation has a 21st-century manufacturing strategy. She is working to cultivate Michigan's emerging leadership in alternative energy and won victories in the passage of her Green Collar Jobs Initiative and by making alternative energy a priority in the Food Energy and Conservation Act, commonly called the Farm Bill. Additional successes include passage of her amendment to permit manufacturers to use alternative minimum tax (AMT) credits, as well as research and development (R&D) tax credits, to invest in their businesses.
Senator Stabenow is a champion for Michigan's auto industry. She is author of the Advanced Technology Vehicle Incentives program, which will provide $25 billion in low-interest loans to automobile manufacturers for retooling older factories so the next generation of vehicles can be produced here at home. As a member of the Finance Committee, she helped lead efforts to create consumer tax credits for the new generation of electric vehicles, such as the Chevy Volt. She was recognized in Motor Trend Magazine's 2009 Power List for standing up for the Detroit 3 and championing their request for $25 billion in bridge loans to help them restructure, save jobs and get through the global credit crisis.
Senator Stabenow is a recognized leader in the fight to make prescription drugs more affordable and to bring innovative technology to our health care system. She is a leader in implementing strong measures to lower prescription drug prices. Her bipartisan provision was signed into law in 2007 to streamline the approval process for generic drugs. She is working to address women's health issues, including health disparities impacting women. She is the sponsor of the Heart for Women Act to raise awareness about heart disease, the number one killer of women in America.
As co-chair of the Senate Health Care Quality and Information Technology Caucus and a member of the Senate Rural Health Caucus, Senator Stabenow has been recognized for her leadership in bringing innovative technology to the health care sector. She is the author of groundbreaking health IT legislation whose goal is to provide critical technology to hospitals and physicians to help lower costs and provide the quality of care we expect.
Senator Stabenow is also delivering for Michigan as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Her leadership in rewriting our nation's farm bill has brought about a historic new focus on Michigan's specialty crops and victories for Michigan in alternative energy production, Great Lakes preservation, land conservation, research, food safety, nutrition and rural development.
Senator Stabenow also wrote a new law to assist families facing foreclosure by eliminating the IRS rule that unfairly taxed homeowners who had a portion of their original mortgage loan forgiven by the bank. She is a strong advocate for higher education — working to pass recent increases in college financial aid and securing millions in cutting-edge research dollars for Michigan's colleges and universities. She is a champion for Michigan's Great Lakes and waterways, and author of the Michigan Lighthouse and Maritime Heritage Act to promote tourism and help preserve some of Michigan's greatest historical treasures. She is also the author of the first-ever federal ban on drilling for oil and gas in our Great Lakes.
The Michigan Hospital Association gave Senator Stabenow its 2008 Special Recognition award for her leadership and health care advocacy. In addition, the Michigan Primary Care Association honored Senator Stabenow with its 2005 Champion for the Medically Underserved award, and the National Association of Community Health Centers recognized her with its 2008 Distinguished Community Health Champion award. Senator Stabenow's leadership was also recognized by the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police and the Michigan Association of Fire Chiefs, who both presented her with their 2005 Legislator of the Year award. The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force named her their 2005 Great Lakes Legislator of the Year.
As a state legislator, Stabenow was acclaimed as one of Michigan's most passionate advocates for children and as an expert in family law and small business issues. Her influence as a state legislator is evident throughout Michigan law — from Michigan's historic property-tax cut and small business reforms, to nationally acclaimed legislation to protect children and families.
Born in Gladwin, Michigan, Senator Stabenow grew up in the nearby town of Clare. She attended Michigan State University, where she received her Bachelor's (1972) and Masters (1975) degrees. She worked with youth in the public schools before running for public office.
Senator Stabenow was inspired to first run for office by the threatened closure of a local nursing home. She was elected to the Ingham County Board of Commissioners in 1974, and was the youngest person and first woman to chair the Board (1977-78). She was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives, where she served for 12 years (1979-90) and rose in leadership, becoming the first woman to preside over the House. She served in the State Senate for four years (1991-94). Elected to Congress in 1996 representing Michigan's Eighth Congressional District, she won election to the U.S. Senate four years later.
Senator Stabenow's home is in Lansing, where she resides with her husband, Tom Athans. She has two grown children, Todd and Michelle; a daughter-in-law, Sara; a granddaughter, Lilly; and a stepdaughter, Gina. She is a lifelong United Methodist and a member of Grace United Methodist Church.