Born and raised in San Jose, California, Norman Mineta has made a significant impact throughout his career.
Of Japanese heritage, Mineta and his family were among the thousands interned during World War II. After the war, the family went back to San Jose, and Mineta went on to attend the University of California, Berkeley. In 1953, Mineta graduated with a degree in Business Administration and served as an intelligence officer in the US Army before joining his father at the Mineta Insurance Agency.
Mineta’s political career started in 1967 with an appointment to the San Jose City Council. In 1971, Mineta was elected as the 59th Mayor of San Jose. He had become the first Asian-American mayor of a major U.S. city.
Four years later, Mineta was elected to represent Silicon Valley as a member of the United States House of Representatives, a post he held from 1975 through 1995. He co-founded the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and chaired the House Aviation subcommittee, the Surface Transportation subcommittee, and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Mineta was key in the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which officially apologized for the injustices endured by Japanese Americans during World War II.
In 1995, Mineta resigned from the House of Representatives and took a position at Lockheed Martin Corporation. In 2000 he was appointed by President Clinton as the U.S. Secretary of Commerce making him the first Asian American to hold a post in the Cabinet. The next year, President George W. Bush named Mineta as the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, a role he served in until 2006. Mineta was also the first Asian American to hold this role, as well as the only Democrat to serve in Bush’s Cabinet.
When Mineta stepped down in 2006, he was the longest-serving Secretary of Transportation in the history of the position. Today, Mineta is the Vice Chairman of Hill & Knowlton, based in Washington, DC. He is married to wife Deni with two sons (David and Stuart) and two stepsons (Robert and Mark).