Boston University School of Law

Gary Locke (’75) serves in Obama’s Cabinet as Secretary of Commerce

In a year when the nation faces daunting challenges, one Boston University School of Law alumnus is steering the country in the right direction through his continued leadership in government. This year, Gary Locke (’75) joins the President’s Cabinet as Secretary of Commerce.

The former Washington state governor was confirmed as President Obama’s Secretary of Commerce on March 24, 2009, making him the first Asian-American to serve in the position.

“I’m honored to take on this challenge and will work every day to make the Commerce Department an engine for improving our competitiveness, encouraging innovation and creating jobs,” Locke said in a Department of Commerce press release.

Locke has been paving the road for Asian-Americans in government since 1996, when he became the first Asian-American governor in American history. After leaving his post as governor in 2004, he went on to become partner at the Seattle law firm Davis Wright Tremaine. As an expert on China-related issues, Locke has been instrumental in leading the firm’s China practice.

"Gary knows the American Dream. He's lived it. And that's why he shares my commitment to do whatever it takes to keep it alive in our time," said President Obama in his announcement of Locke's nomination. Born into an immigrant family, Locke was raised in a public housing project for families of World War II veterans. Through a combination of part-time jobs, financial aid and scholarships, Locke later attended Yale University, where he received his bachelor's degree in political science in 1972.

In 1975, Locke earned a degree from Boston University School of Law. Following his years at the law school, Locke served as deputy prosecutor in King County and as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee before becoming governor.

Regarding the United States’ fragile economy, Locke will face some unique challenges in his new position as U.S. Commerce Secretary. So far, Locke has promised to create “jobs of the future” and to enforce U.S. laws against unfair foreign trade practices. Also topping his agenda will be the 2010 census, the nationwide switch to digital television and the protection of ocean fisheries.

Confident in Locke’s abilities to skillfully oversee the Department, President Obama said, “Gary will be a trusted voice in my Cabinet, a tireless advocate for our economic competitiveness and an influential ambassador for American industry who will help us do everything we can, especially now, to promote our industry around the world.”

Photo Source: White House photo by Pete Souza