Madeleine May Kunin is a former American diplomat and politician. Kunin served as Vermont's first and, to-date only, female governor, as well as the state's first Jewish governor. Additionally, Kunin was the first Jewish woman to ever be elected governor of a U.S. state.
Born in Zurich, Switzerland, Kunin's mother escaped the Holocaust and travelled with Madeleine and her brother to the United States in 1940. In 1956, she received her bachelor's degree in history from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. After completing two masters programs at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Vermont, Kunin worked as a journalist for the Burlington Free Press, as a tour guide to the World's Fair, and as a part-time college professor.
Kunin was elected to the Vermont State House of Representatives in 1972, and was re-elected in 1974 and 1976. She served two terms as Vermont's lieutenant governor, beginning in 1978, and in 1984 launched a successful election bid for the governorship. She was re-elected twice, and holds the distinction of being the first woman in U.S. history to be elected governor of a state three times. She did not seek re-election in 1990.
In 1992, Kunin co-chaired a national campaign of women during Bill Clinton's Presidential campaign, and played a role in picking Al Gore for Vice-President. After the election, she served in the Clinton administration as the Deputy Secretary of Education from 1993-1997. Kunin was appointed U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and Leichtenstein in 1997, where she tackled issues such as Jewish WWII asset recovery.
Madeleine Kunin is currently a Marsh Scholar Professor-at-Large at the University of Vermont in Burlington. She gives guest lectures in a number of institutions and UVM departments, and teaches a seminar in Women, Politics, and Leadership in the History and Women's Studies departments.
Kunin is the author of three books: The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work, and Family (2012), Pearls, Politics, and Power: How Women Can Win and Lead (2008) and Living a Political Life (1995).