Today on Extraordinary Women Radio, I’m excited to bring you the very extraordinary Gale Norton: First woman elected to Attorney General of Colorado & First woman appointed as Secretary of the US Department of the Interior.
Gale is also the first of six 2020 Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame Inductees who will be featured here on Extraordinary Women Radio!
In this episode:
- Discover how Gale’s path was meaningfully opened up to politics and law
- Gale’s momentous journey as the first woman elected as Attorney General of Colorado
- Running for office and how to raise your voice as a woman
- Gale’s experience as the first woman appointed Secretary of the US Department of the Interior
- Learn how collaborative decision-making can be a very effective leadership style
- The challenge of partisan-based politics and how to remedy the same
- How to cope with pressure, conflict, and political scrutiny
- Gales’ significant accomplishment that she is most proud of
- The importance of practicing women’s right to vote and Gale’s hope for women in the future
Gale become the first woman elected Attorney General of Colorado – at a time when only two women had previously held the office of state Attorney General anywhere in the country. She achieved another first when she was appointed Secretary of the US Department of the Interior – the first female leader in the Department’s 150-year history. In that role, Norton was responsible for managing over 20% of the land area of the United States, a Fortune-500-sized budget, and a workforce of 70,000 employees. Norton led efforts that resolved 70-year-old interstate disputes on the Colorado River and instituted a west-wide water conservation program. She championed the President’s Healthy Forest Initiative and Cooperative Conservation.
As an attorney, Norton has handled multi-billion-dollar and high-profile litigation, including arguing cases before the US Supreme Court and negotiating one of the largest lawsuit settlements in history. Norton has a B.A., J.D. and honorary Ph.D. from the University of Denver, and an honorary Dr. Eng. from the Colorado School of Mines. In 2014, DU Law School honored Norton with the Outstanding Alumni Award.
Norton is now president of Norton Regulatory Strategies. She serves on the boards of directors of American Transmission Company, which operates electric transmission facilities, and Liberty Oilfield Services. She resides in Colorado with her husband John Hughes.
As Secretary of the Interior, 2001-2006, Gale Norton played a key role in shaping national energy policies. In the face of crises including the September 11th attacks and the War on Terror, increasing domestic energy production became a major focus for Norton’s term. She oversaw lands and offshore areas that produced a third of America’s domestic oil, natural gas, and coal. She was actively involved in consideration of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, offshore and onshore oil and gas production, coal mine leasing and reclamation, hydroelectric generation, as well as biomass, wind and geothermal development.
Norton was General Counsel for Royal Dutch Shell Unconventional Oil, 2007-2010, and Attorney General of Colorado, 1991-1999. She is currently President of Norton Regulatory Strategies and serves on the Board of Directors of American Transmission Company, which operates electric transmission facilities across the US.
“What I found worked the best with a team is if you focus not on who’s making the suggestion but focus on the substance of the decision that has to be made.” – Gale Norton
Let’s meet Gale Norton!
The Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame mission is to inspire by celebrating and sharing the enduring contributions of Colorado’s distinctive women. To achieve this, the Hall educates the people of Colorado about the stories of the women who shaped our state and the nation’s history with courage, leadership, intelligence, compassion, and creativity. Their talents, skills, struggles, and contributions form a legacy that the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame is dedicated to protecting. I invite you to join us at the March 18, 2020 Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame 2020 Inductee Gala by purchasing your ticket here.
Watch for five additional interviews in the coming months of the 2020 Inductee Hall of Famers:
- Katherine Archuleta – Archuleta was appointed as the first Latina to lead the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in in 2013 by President Barack Obama, overseeing a budget of roughly $250 million and managing human resources for the federal government’s 2 million employees. Archuleta also served as chief of staff for U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Secretary of Transportation Federico Peña, where she strived toward justice and equality through her direct influence on policy at the state and national level.
- Lupe Briseño – Briseño made waves within Colorado’s Labor Movement after organizing the Kitayama Carnation Strike—the women-led social movement in 1969 at the Kitamaya floral plant in Brighton, which centered on demands for worker’s rights, especially in regard to the treatment of female workers. Her demonstration of leadership in the fight for civil and labor rights, social justice, and feminism played a pivotal role in the Colorado Chicano Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and ’70s.
- Rosalind “Bee” Harris – Harris shifted the Colorado media landscape when she founded the Denver Urban Spectrum in 1987 — a monthly publication built to elevate the stories of communities of color and highlight the voices that were not otherwise reflected in mainstream media. Harris also went on to found the Urban Spectrum Youth Foundation in 2000 as a journalism mentoring program for 11- to 17-year-olds.
- Velveta Howell – Howell was the eighth African American female to graduate from the University of Colorado Law School, and went on to become the first woman of color appointed as Colorado’s Deputy District Attorney. Howell was also later appointed to the Colorado Health Care Reform Executive Steering Committee and helped establish the Colorado Office of Health Disparities—only the second in the nation.
- Marianne Neifert, MD, MTS – In the late 1970s, Neifert was the first U.S. physician to promote the routine use of modern breastfeeding technologies and helped establish the then-burgeoning field of breastfeeding medicine. In 1984, she co-founded the Mothers’ Milk Bank—the nation’s largest nonprofit human milk bank. In 1990, she co-founded the Colorado Breastfeeding Task Force (which later became the Colorado Breastfeeding Coalition) with a mission to educate and advocate for the practice, and later co-founded the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine in 1994.
Listen to other Colorado Women Hall of Fame inductee interviews from prior years.