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Jane Swift

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Preceded by  Paul Cellucci
Name  Jane Swift
Resigned  January 2, 2003
Succeeded by  Daniel Grabauskas
Party  Republican Party
Preceded by  Michael Duffy
Education  Trinity College
Succeeded by  Kerry Healey
Spouse  Chuck Hunt (m. 1994)

Jane Swift WGBH News Without Answers A BrandNew Governor Tried To Lead
Preceded by  Paul Cellucci (as Governor)
Succeeded by  Mitt Romney (as Governor)
Role  Former Governor of Massachusetts
Previous office  Governor of Massachusetts (2001–2003)
Similar People  James Jajuga, Jane Perlov, Deval Patrick

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Jane Maria Swift (born February 24, 1965) is an American politician and businesswoman who served as the 69th Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts from 1999 to 2003 and Acting Governor from 2001 to 2003. She is the only woman to perform the duties of governor of Massachusetts, doing so from April 2001 to January 2003. At the time she became acting governor, Swift was 36 years old, making her the youngest female governor or acting governor in U.S. history. Since leaving elected office she has worked in the private sector as a consultant and executive in education technology, as well as serving on corporate and non-profit boards, teaching and lecturing on topics pertaining to women and leadership, and supporting philanthropies that address issues of importance to women and girls. Since 2011, she has been CEO of Middlebury Interactive Languages. In 2013, she and her family moved to Shelburne, Vermont.


Jane Swift ExGov Jane Swift in talk for YWCA says pregnancy

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Early life

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Swift grew up in a large extended family in North Adams, Massachusetts. Her maternal grandmother immigrated to the United States from northern Italy after World War I, and her paternal grandfather was a Plymouth, Massachusetts native with roots in Ireland as well as on the Mayflower. She learned politics from her father, who ran the family HVAC business and was active in the Berkshire County Republican Party. Swift's mother, a graduate of North Adams State College, was a teacher in area public and parochial schools. Swift attended North Adams public schools, and in 1987 graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, with a degree in American studies. During her college years, Swift held work-study jobs in the college dining hall and with the Religion Department, played on the women's rugby team, and was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.

Political career

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In 1990, at the age of 25, Swift was the youngest woman ever elected to the Massachusetts Senate. She served the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin, and Hampden Massachusetts Senate district from 1991 to 1996 and was active in education reform. She was instrumental in the passage of the Education Reform Act of 1993, which created the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, one of the nation's first statewide programs for quantifying academic performance.

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According to Governor William Weld's chief of staff, "She was among the best, if not the best of senators." It was in this capacity that she developed political themes of increased accountability, smaller government, fiscal responsibility, and reforming education and social services.

In 1996, rather than seek re-election to the Senate, Swift was the Republican nominee for United States Congress in Massachusetts's 1st congressional district. She lost to a popular two-term incumbent Democratic Congressman, John Olver, by only four points.

Swift went on to serve as an executive with the Massachusetts Port Authority, and was later appointed by Governor Weld as Massachusetts' consumer affairs secretary in 1997. She served in that post until she won election as Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts in 1998, in a campaign that was notable not only for her relative youth but also for the fact that she was pregnant with her first child, whom she gave birth to just a few weeks before election day.

During her time as Lieutenant Governor, Swift faced a lot of scrutiny of her choices as a high-profile working mother. She was especially criticized for using staff members to watch her daughter, and for her Massachusetts State Police detail's use of a helicopter to avoid Thanksgiving traffic en route to her home in The Berkshires when her baby was sick. In an ethics ruling that Swift herself requested, she was found to be in violation of state guidelines for the babysitting and she paid a fine of $1250, but she was cleared of wrongdoing on the question of the use of the helicopter and on allegations that staffers helped her move from one Boston-area apartment to another.

Tenure as Acting Governor

Swift became Acting Governor of Massachusetts in April 2001 when Governor Paul Cellucci was appointed United States Ambassador to Canada by President George W. Bush. She was pregnant with twins at the time, and became the first sitting governor in U.S. history to give birth when her twin daughters were born one month into her term of office. She made national headlines when she continued to exercise executive authority during her maternity leave, including chairing a meeting of the Massachusetts Governor's Council by teleconference while on bed rest for preterm labor. Members of the Democratic-controlled Governor's Council objected, contesting her authority to convene official meetings while on leave.

Swift won widespread praise for her response to the attacks of September 11, 2001, and for her management of the fiscal crisis that followed in Massachusetts. On the day of the attacks, Swift insisted that polls remain open for a special congressional election scheduled for that day, and later led a comprehensive, statewide response to prevent further acts of terrorism. In addition, Swift led 45 governors in urging Congress to create the Department of Homeland Security. The Boston Herald summarized her response to the crisis, stating, "Acting Gov. Jane Swift has had her finest hour during this crisis...she has been steady, stable, calming, decisive."

Faced with a widening budget deficit in the aftermath of the attacks, Swift cut nearly $300 million in programs and vetoed nearly $600 million in proposed spending. She received high praise from the Massachusetts High Tech Council for her response to the budget crisis without resorting to massive tax increases.

Her tenure as governor was not without controversy, however. In February 2002, she drew criticism for her refusal to commute the thirty-to-forty-year sentence of Gerald Amirault, who was convicted in the notorious 1986 Fells Acres Day Care Center sexual abuse case and who had already served sixteen years in prison. Her decision, which went against the unanimous recommendation of the state parole board, came at the urging of Martha Coakley, then Middlesex County District Attorney and subsequently State Attorney General. Both Coakley's and Swift's motives in denying Amirault clemency have been impugned as politically inspired.

For her fiscal policies, however, Swift received a grade of B in 2002 from the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, in their biennial Fiscal Policy Report Card on America's Governors.

2002 gubernatorial campaign

In October 2001, Swift announced that she would run for a full term as governor in the 2002 election. In January 2002 she named Patrick Guerriero, her deputy chief of staff, as her running mate. Guerriero became the nation's first openly gay candidate for lieutenant governor.

Despite her widely praised response to the September 11 attacks, however, Swift's popularity had been damaged by political missteps and personal controversies. Many Republicans viewed her as unable to win a general election against a Democrat and campaigned to persuade businessman Mitt Romney to run for governor. On March 17, a Boston Herald poll showed Romney defeating Swift in a Republican primary by a 75 percent to 12 percent margin. On March 19, 2002, Swift declared that she had decided not to seek her party's nomination, citing family reasons and also saying, "I believe that this is in the best interest of our state, as it will allow the Republican Party's best chances of holding the governor's office in November." Three hours later, Romney announced his candidacy and he went on to defeat Democrat Shannon O'Brien in the general election.

Swift's official portrait was unveiled in the Massachusetts State House in 2005.

2008 presidential campaign

A skilled campaigner and fundraiser, Swift continues to be considered a “power player” within the Republican Party. She endorsed Senator John McCain for president in February 2007 and campaigned on his behalf throughout 2008. Swift appeared on news and political commentary shows, providing point/counterpoint discussion on the campaign. Swift also decried criticism of vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, which she regarded as unfair and sexist.


An analogue to Governor Swift was introduced in the fifth season of Ally McBeal, which is set in Boston. In the season premiere, Ling encounters a beleaguered mom holding a baby carriage and briefly stops to help her; Ling is later informed that the woman on the street was the governor of Massachusetts, who had seen fit to reward Ling by appointing her to the state bench. Swift is never mentioned by name in the episode.

Post-political life and work

After leaving public office, Swift moved back to the Berkshires while continuing to work in Boston and throughout the U.S. as an education policy consultant and venture capital partner with special expertise in education technology. She has received six honorary doctorates, served as a fellow at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, is a frequent speaker on the role of women in public service and the challenges of integrating work and family, is a contributor to Working Mother Magazine, and is a lecturer in Leadership Studies at Williams College. Swift and her husband owned and operated Cobble Hill Farm, a horse boarding facility and riding school in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where they lived with their three daughters before relocating to Vermont after Swift became CEO of Middlebury Interactive Languages (MIL) in August 2011. MIL is a leader in world-language instruction for students in grades K-12, with successful online pilot programs in public school districts like Baltimore County, Maryland, and also offers summer residential immersion programs for middle and high school students at several locations in Vermont.

The former governor's philanthropic and work has focused on issues of importance to women and girls. She holds trustee positions, board memberships, and advisory roles both domestically and abroad, for organizations including:

  • Sally Ride Science
  • School of Leadership - Afghanistan
  • Oxfam America's Sisters on the Planet VoteRunLead
  • Champlain College
  • Swift completed the Boston Marathon in 2008, running as part of the fundraising team for Boston Children's Hospital.

    In 2015, Swift signed an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.

    Electoral history

  • 1996 Race for United States House of Representatives, Massachusetts District 1
  • John Olver (D, incumbent), 53%
  • Jane Swift (R), 47%
  • 1998 Race for Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts
  • Paul Cellucci (incumbent)/Jane Swift (R), 51%
  • Scott Harshbarger/Warren Tolman (D), 47%
  • References

    Jane Swift Wikipedia