Former Democratic Rep. Ellen Tauscher of California, a trailblazer for women in the world of finance who served in Congress for more than a decade before joining the Obama administration, died of complications from pneumonia, her family said Tuesday. She was 67.
Tauscher died Monday at Stanford University Medical Center surrounded by her daughter, Katherine, and other relatives, her family said.
At 25, Tauscher was the youngest woman and one of the first to hold a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.
Her first foray into politics was chairing her good friend Dianne Feinstein’s first two U.S. Senate campaigns in 1992 and 1994.
“Ellen never backed down from a challenge and always stood up for what she thought was right,” Feinstein said in a statement. “She remains an inspiration for all of us in Congress and I hope younger members will look to her as an example to emulate. She’ll always be remembered.”
In 1996, she unseated two-term Republican Bill Baker for the 10th congressional district seat in the San Francisco Bay Area in what her family said was “a historic election that no one thought a Democrat would win that year.”
“Public service was her calling, and there was no job she loved more than representing the people of Contra Costa, Alameda and Solano counties,” her family said.
She left Congress in 2009 during her 7th term, when President Barack Obama appointed her to the State Department, where she served as the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security under then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In that role, Tauscher helped lead negotiations with Russia over the 2010 New START treaty, which limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers.
“She made America and the world safer through her work on arms control at the State Department,” Clinton said in a statement. “Ellen woke up every day determined to make a difference, and make a difference she did.”
Tauscher retired from the State Department after three years but continued to work in California, where was the chair of former Gov. Jerry Brown’s Military Advisory Council. She also served as chair of the Board of Governors for Livermore and Los Alamos labs and was a regent of the University of California.
A native of Harrison, New Jersey, she graduated from Seton Hall University and worked as an investment banker and before switching to politics.
“California sends our heartfelt condolences to her loved ones and the many public servants she mentored and inspired,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said. “We will hold Ellen’s memory close as we continue her work toward a more just and peaceful world.”