*On April 4, 2014, Carol Moseley Braun was the tenth Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics.
Carol Moseley Braun served as a United States senator for Illinois from 1992 to 1998 and U.S. ambassador to New Zealand from 1999 to 2001, as well as county executive officer, state representative and assistant United States attorney. After her return in 2001 from her ambassadorial posting, she taught law and political science at Morris Brown College and DePaul University, along with running a business law practice and business consultancy in Chicago.
She was a candidate for the Democratic nomination during the 2004 U.S. presidential election, and a candidate for mayor of Chicago in 2011.
Moseley Braun received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Illinois-Chicago in 1968 and her law degree in 1972 from the University of Chicago.
She joined the United States Attorney’s office in Chicago in 1973. As an assistant United States attorney, she worked primarily in the civil and appellate law areas and tried cases of national importance. Her work in housing, health policy and environmental law won her the Attorney General’s Special Achievement award. She subsequently received more than 300 awards for achievements in the public interest.
In 1978, she was elected to the Illinois General Assembly. As a state representative, she became recognized as a champion for education, governmental reform and civil rights. She was named assistant majority leader. She served one term as recorder of deeds for Cook County, which includes Chicago, before being elected to the United States in 1992. She was the first female senator from Illinois and the first female African-American senator. She is still the only female African-American to serve in the U.S. Senate.
In 1998, after Moseley Braun was narrowly defeated in her race for re-election, President Clinton named her special consultant to the Department of Education on school construction. She was then nominated to be U.S. ambassador to New Zealand and confirmed by a vote of the full Senate, 98-2. As United States ambassador, her portfolio included New Zealand, Samoa, the Cook Islands and Antarctica.
When her ambassadorial assignment ended, Moseley Braun returned to Alabama to rehabilitate and rescue her family farm. During that time, she started her business consultancy and began to teach political science. She currently runs a private law firm, Carol Moseley Braun LLC in Chicago, Illinois, and has launched a line of organic food products called Ambassador Organics.