A History of Trailblazing Greatness
Jo Ann Davidson – First Female Speaker
Jo Ann Davidson has a lengthy, distinguished career in Ohio Republican politics. Her public service began in 1967 as a member of the Reynoldsburg City Council. Hard work propelled her to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1980. But it was 1995 when her colleagues selected her to lead them as Speaker of the House. Davidson is the first and only woman to ever hold the position in Ohio.
Ken Blackwell – First African American Secretary of State
Ken Blackwell began his career in Ohio politics as a member of the Cincinnati City Council and later as Mayor of Cincinnati beginning in 1979. He has held several positions of national significance including serving as Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights under President George W. Bush. Blackwell returned to Ohio in 1994 where he served as state Treasurer and then Ohio Secretary of State. In 2006, he became the first African American major party candidate to run for the state’s highest office: Governor.
Mary Taylor – First CPA as Auditor of State
When Mary Taylor took office as Ohio Auditor of State in 2007, it was the first time in the agency’s 204 years history that a certified public accountant was elected to the state’s top accounting job. Prior to that, Taylor had served as a Republican member of the Ohio General Assembly and on city council in her hometown of Green.
Nancy Hollister – First Female Ohio Governor
Nancy Hollister is the first and only woman to serve as Ohio Governor. Her career in public service began in 1980 as a member of the Marietta City Council until being elected Mayor of Marietta just four years later. After serving as director of the Governor’s Office of Appalachia, Hollister joined Governor George Voinovich’s reelection campaign and served as Lt. Governor until she was appointed Governor to complete the remaining 11 days of the Voinovich’s term.
Betty Montgomery – First Female Ohio Attorney General and Auditor of State
Betty Montgomery earned a reputation as a tough litigator when she served as the Wood County Prosecutor beginning in 1980. That position would help propel her into the Ohio Senate. In 1994, she became the first Republican in 24 years and the first woman ever to serve as Ohio Attorney General. Just eight years later, Montgomery became the first ever female Auditor of State.
Jennette Bradley – First African American Columbus City Councilmember, First Female African American Statewide Officeholder
After serving a decade as a member of the Columbus City Council and the first African American female to serve in the position, Gov. Bob Taft selected Jennette Bradley to join his reelection campaign in 2002. Following a victorious campaign, Bradley took office a year later and is the first African American to ever serve as Ohio Lt. Gov. and the first African American ever elected to a statewide office in Ohio.
Clarence Mingo – First African American County Auditor in Ohio
Clarence E. Mingo’s law career was rooted in public service oftentimes working as an advocate for abused and neglected children. Later, he would serve as commissioner in the Ohio Court of Claims. In 2009, Mingo was appointed to serve as Auditor of Franklin County. He ran for reelection a year later and is currently the only African American to ever serve as County Auditor in Ohio’s history.
Maureen O’Connor – First Female Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court
Maureen O’Connor began her law career in Summit County and worked hard to be elected to the Summit County Court of Common Pleas. She later was elected Summit County prosecutor and served in that position until 1999 when she took office as Lt. Governor of Ohio. After one full term as Lt. Governor, O’Connor was elected to the Ohio Supreme Court and in 2010 was the first female to ever be elected to the office of Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court.
George Washington Williams – First African American member of the Ohio General Assembly
George Washington Williams joined the Union Army at the age of 14 under a made-up name and fought in the American Civil War. Later, Williams and his family settled in Ohio, near Cincinnati. He would then run for and win a seat in the Ohio House of Representatives. He is the first African American to serve in the Ohio legislature.
William Howard Taft – First U.S. President to Serve as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
William Howard Taft is one of eight U.S. Presidents to be elected from Ohio, all of whom were Republicans. But Taft’s interest was primarily in the Judicial Branch of government. He served as county prosecutor in Hamilton County and later was appointed to the Superior Court of Cincinnati. Seven years after serving as President, Taft was appointed to Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court where he served until his death in 1930. He is the only person to ever serve as both President and Chief Justice.