Ray H. LaHood
US Department of Transportation
Ray LaHood, a former U.S. Representative from Illinois (1994-2008), became the Secretary of Transporation under President Barack Obama in 2009. He leads a 60,000-employee agency that regulates American aviation, highways, railroads, public transit, seaways, traffic safety and piplelines, among other modes of transportation. Until his nomination by Obama, his most prominent moment as a member of Congress came in 1998, when he presided over House impeachment hearings for President Bill Clinton. Previously, he served in the Illinois House of Representatives in 1982 and 1983, and, before and after that period, as an aide to other Illinois congressional representatives (1977-1982 and 1983-1994). LaHood is the only Republican Obama cabinet nominee who has served in elective office; Defense Secretary Robert Gates continues from the Bush Administration.
Secretary LaHood was born, raised and went to college in Peoria, near the center of Illinois' 18th Congressional district, which he represented for seven terms. LaHood studied education and sociology at Bradley University, earning a bachelor of science degree in 1971. He taught junior high and worked as a local-government planner before entering politics in 1977. He and his wife, Kathy, have four children.