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Best piece of advice you ever received…
Prior to my election to Congress, when I was the chair of the 1984 Democratic National Host Committee, I thought I had taken on too many roles and considered giving up one of my positions to someone else. The elegant and politically astute Congresswoman Lindy Boggs of Louisiana taught me to think differently: “Darlin’, no man would ever have that thought.” She continued with a significant piece of advice, “Know thy power.” Her words had an enormous impact on me — I had power in my hands and I had to use it.

Woman who changed your life…
On a cold day in January 1987, I came to say goodbye to my dear friend Sala Burton who was dying of cancer. She turned to me solemnly and asked me to run for her seat in the House of Representatives, convincing me that my agreement was the only answer that would bring her comfort. I was confident in my abilities and accomplishments, but Sala’s faith in me was so unshakable that it made me determined to live up to it. So I ran for Congress — and won.

Advice you give your daughters…
I often repeat the advice above given to me by the great Lindy Boggs, with one addition: to “know thy power — and be ready.” You just don’t know what opportunity will present itself, and when. Young women should have the confidence that whatever they have been doing will prepare them in a unique way for the challenges ahead. We all have mentors, but your greatest asset is your individuality. You should be ready for your own opportunities and reach for the stars.

In the face of adversity, what keeps you going is…
The three most important issues facing Congress are: our children, our children, our children. When faced with challenges here in Congress, I know we must keep fighting to ensure they have clean air and water, food on their tables, health care, education, and the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.

You knew your career path when…
As a mother of five children, I have always seen my role in politics as an extension of my role as a mom. When opportunities presented themselves to make a difference in my community and country, I took advantage of them – from serving on the San Francisco Library Commission to supporting the Democratic Party to running for Sala’s seat in Congress and being selected by my colleagues to serve as the first woman Speaker of the House.

You would like to be remembered for…
When women succeed, our country succeeds. I would like to be remembered for supporting America’s women and families — from passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to ensuring that being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition in the Affordable Care Act to encouraging more women to run for office. While we have made great strides, there is much work left to be done.

One thing people would be surprised to know…
There are two and a half times more women in the House of Representatives than when I first arrived here in 1987. And for the first time in history, the majority of our House Democratic Caucus is comprised of women and minorities — truly a reflection of the American people. We must keep going: nothing is more wholesome to our political process than the increased participation of women.

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