Appointed 78th Attorney General of the United States, Janet Reno became the first woman to lead the nation’s largest law enforcement office of 125,000 employees. A major figure during the Clinton administration, her eight-year term made her the longest-serving attorney general since the Civil War. During her tenure, she revolutionized law enforcement by achieving conventional crime rate and drug-use reductions. Facing some of the most difficult decisions of law enforcement, from the Branch Davidian standoff to the Elian Gonzales case, Reno demonstrated outstanding integrity, independence and adherence to the laws of justice.
As the Chief Law Enforcement officer, Reno enforced policies on civil rights, race relations, corruption, the environment, gun control and immigration. She aimed to give ordinary citizens greater access to the justice system, while also ensuring that the federal government consistently accorded strict principles of due process. Focusing on the well-being of the nation’s children, Reno pushed for reforms to provide assistance to troubled youths. She also increased the government’s information technology resources devoted to law enforcement and proposed additional Internet security by encouraging collaboration between companies and federal agencies.
One of the most influential and admired women of our time, Reno continues to be involved with the issues important to her, including dispute resolution, advocacy for children and the elderly, and law enforcement reform. She brings her sharp mind, vast knowledge and keen wit to the podium to examine current issues and to encourage others to achieve their personal best. Sharing her brilliant journey of dedication and strength, Reno provides audiences with an honest and thought-provoking message of empowerment.
A Florida native, Reno became interested in public service at the age of 14 when she spent nine months studying in Germany. On a visit to Dachau one day, she asked Germans how they could have permitted the death camp to operate. “We just stood by, we just stood by,” they told her. Reno realized that she couldn’t stand by, and dedicated her life to fighting for equality and justice for all.
After receiving a B.A. from Cornell University, Reno attended Harvard Law School. She entered the law profession in the 1960′s when the field was still relatively closed to women. After nine years in private practice, Reno was named staff director of the Judiciary Committee of the Florida House of Representatives. Once there, she helped draft a revision of the state constitution. Her other positions included counsel for the Florida Senate’s Criminal Justice Commission for Revision of the Criminal Code and state attorney for the Eleventh Judiciary Circuit of Florida.
In 1978, Reno was appointed state attorney for Dade County, the first woman ever named to the position of top prosecutor for the county. Serving in this position for 15 years and winning re-election for four terms, Reno promoted juvenile justice reform and took on the difficult task of Miami’s crime problem. Her hard work led to the establishment of the Miami Drug Court, which has served as a model for courts around the country.
Reno has been recognized by numerous organizations for her positive and enduring contributions to both law enforcement and humanity. She is the 2003 recipient of the distinguished Stennis Center’s Lindy Boggs Award for demonstrating the ideals of patriotism, courage, integrity and leadership through public service. In 2000, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Reno’s other recent awards include the WAND and WiLL Torchbearer Award, the Women’s International Center Living Legacy Award, the Louis D. Brandeis Distinguished Leadership Award from the American Jewish Congress, the Woman of Vision Award from the American Committee for The Weizmann Institute of Science, and the Apple of Our Eye Award from the Dayle McIntosh Center for the Disabled.