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Elizabeth Dole walking with binders and papers in her arm, with a federal building in the background. Elizabeth Dole wearing a shirt with the American Red Cross logo. She is sitting with a pen in hand at a table, looking at someone sitting across from her. Elizabeth Dole smiling and applauding.


Elizabeth Hanford Dole

U.S. Department of Transportation


  • Mandated high-mounted center third brake light on new cars.
  • Announced a 9-Point Plan to increase career opportunities for women within the DOT. Initiatives include a Professional Exchange Program and greater emphasis on training women air traffic controllers. Two years later a tenth point is added, an Upward Mobility Plan, to help with career planning for employees with limited advancement opportunities. 


  • National Minimum Drinking Age Act passed, raising the drinking age to 21 nationwide.
  • Issued Rule 208, requiring airbags or automatic safety belts in new cars, with the caveat that the rule would be suspended if states covering two-thirds of the country issued seat belt laws. Three years later, 29 states had seat belt laws, seat belt usage tripled, and air bags offered by ten manufacturers. 


  • Instituted random drug testing of DOT employees, becoming first civilian department to have such a policy.
  • Sold Government-owned Consolidated Rail Corporation (CONRAIL) for $1.65 billion, the largest Wall Street stock offering at the time.
  • Metropolitan Washington Airports Act passed, transferring Washington Dulles International and Washington National Airports from the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) control to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.


  • Union Station in Washington D.C. reopened after a three-year restoration. In addition to being a transportation hub, the train station has retail shops and restaurants. 


U.S. Department of Labor


  • Pittston coal strike, which lasted almost a year, is resolved after Dole appointed former Secretary of Labor Bill Ursery as mediator. Health benefits for retired workers – not wages – was the central issue.
  • Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills established to determine skills youths need to be successful in the workplace and develop national competency guidelines.
  • Announced Glass Ceiling Initiative that will identify barriers to women in the workplace and recommend changes.


American Red Cross


  • Announced the transformation of blood services – how the American Red Cross collects, tests, and delivers half of America’s blood supply. Over Dole’s tenure at the American Red Cross, $287 million is spent to centralize computer systems, replace 53 aging and semi-independent labs with eight new national testing labs, and establish a new quality assurance program.


  • Hurricane Andrew hit Florida, leading to multi-year aid costing the American Red Cross $81.5 million, the organization’s costliest disaster relief effort at the time.
  • Started Disaster Mental Health Services, licensed mental health professionals with Red Cross training to help victims of disasters, their families, and Red Cross workers. 


  • Opened the Disaster Operations Center. It is open 24 hours a day to monitor potential and ongoing disasters.


  • Established Chief Diversity Officer position to create a more inclusive work environment and better respond to culturally diverse communities.
  • Armed Forces Emergency Services Center opened, providing military and their families with improved, hi-tech emergency communications service.


  • Started using nucleic acid testing, the first blood banking organization to do so. Nucleic acid testing looks for the genetic material of HIV and Hepatitis C, rather than the body's response to the disease like in traditional testing.


Political Career


  • Campaigned for the Ford-Dole Republican presidential ticket.


  • Campaigned for Bob Dole, as he sought the Republican presidential nomination.


  • Campaigned for Bob Dole, as he sought the Republican presidential nomination.


  • Campaigned for Bob Dole, as he sought and earned the Republican presidential nomination. Building on years of campaign experience, she delivered a moving speech – not from the podium, but from the floor among supporters – at the Republican National Convention in San Diego.


  • Ran for the Republican nomination for president. 


  • Elected to the U.S. Senate, becoming North Carolina’s first woman Senator.


  • American Jobs Creation Act passed, containing tobacco industry reform items Dole had advocated for.


  • Helped prevent closures of North Carolina military bases in that year’s Base Realignment and Closure round.
  • Selected by the GOP to be the first woman Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.


  • Legislation to grant federal recognition of the Lumbee Tribe came the closest it ever has to becoming law: passed in the U.S. House and approved by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.


Elizabeth Dole Foundation


  • Learned about the military caregiving crisis while meeting military and veteran families at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.


  • Created Caring for Military Families: the Elizabeth Dole Foundation.
  • Commissioned RAND Corporation to conduct a needs assessment of caregivers. Two years later the study, “Hidden Heroes: America’s Military Caregivers,” is released.
  • Introduced the Innovation Grants Program, now the Hidden Heroes Fund.


  • Announced an expanded 50-state Dole Caregiver Fellows program.


  • Launched the Hidden Heroes Congressional Caucus, in partnership with Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator John McCain, Senator Jack Reed and Congressman Jeff Miller.


  • Announced the Hidden Heroes Campaign, including public service announcements with Tom Hanks,, and the Hidden Heroes Cities Program.


  • Commissioned a follow-up RAND study, “Improving Support for America's Hidden Heroes,” to be a blueprint for the military caregiver support community to use in prioritizing and facilitating future research for America’s hidden heroes.


  • Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act passed, requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a National Family Caregiving Strategy.
  • Omnibus Spending Bill passed, allocating $840 million to the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family  Caregivers (PCAFC).
  • VA MISSION Act passed, expanding the VA’s PCAFC to caregivers of veterans of all eras, renewing the Veterans Choice program for one year, and creating other reforms within the VA system.
  • Department of Veterans Affairs announced they will fund the Elizabeth Dole Center of Excellence, which will help the VA to deliver innovative, data-driven, and integrated approaches to improve services for veterans and caregivers.