Elizabeth Warren is the senior senator from Massachusetts and a fighter for working people.
Elizabeth grew up in a family hanging on by their fingernails to their place in the middle class. Her dad sold fencing and carpeting at Montgomery Ward, and ended up as a building maintenance man. Her mom stayed home with Elizabeth and her older brothers.
When Elizabeth was twelve, her dad suffered a heart attack. He was out of work for a long time and the medical bills piled up. They lost the family station wagon, and were about an inch away from losing their home, when her mom got a minimum wage job answering the phones at Sears. Back then, a minimum wage job could support a family of three. That job saved their home, and it saved their family.
All three of Elizabeth’s big brothers served in the military. Her oldest brother was career Air Force—288 combat missions in Vietnam. Her middle brother went on to work construction, good union work when he could get it. Her youngest brother started his own business.
From the time Elizabeth was in second grade, she wanted to be a school teacher. There was no money for college, but she was a state champion debater and she earned a debate scholarship to George Washington University. She loved school, but at 19, she dropped out to get married. Elizabeth got a second chance at the University of Houston, a commuter college that cost $50 a semester. After graduating, she started teaching children with special needs at a nearby public elementary school. Her first child, daughter Amelia, was born when Elizabeth was 22.
When Amelia turned two, Elizabeth started law school at Rutgers University, a public law school. Three years later, she graduated hugely pregnant with her son Alex. Elizabeth hung out a shingle and practiced law out of her living room, but she soon returned to teaching, this time at Rutgers Law School.
Elizabeth was a law professor for more than 30 years, including nearly 20 years at Harvard Law School. She is one of the nation’s top experts on bankruptcy and the financial pressures facing middle class families. With other researchers at the University of Texas, Elizabeth brought national attention to the connection between personal bankruptcy and health care costs. Her groundbreaking research, digging into thousands of court records of bankruptcy filings, showed that every year, hundreds of thousands of families file for bankruptcy in the aftermath of serious medical problems. She taught courses on commercial law, contracts, and bankruptcy and has written more than one hundred articles and eleven books, including four national best-sellers. National Law Journal named her one of the Most Influential Women Lawyers, and she was honored by the Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association with the Lelia J. Robinson Award. Students at Harvard Law School twice recognized her with the Sacks-Freund Award for excellence in teaching.
In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid asked Elizabeth to serve as Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel to provide some oversight of TARP, the Wall Street bailout. She fought to protect taxpayers, hold Wall Street accountable, and ensure tough oversight of both the Bush and Obama Administrations. Elizabeth won praise from both sides of the aisle — the Boston Globe named Elizabeth as Bostonian of the Year and TIME Magazine called her a “New Sheriff of Wall Street” for her oversight efforts.
Elizabeth is widely credited for the original thinking, political courage, and relentless persistence that led to the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. As an assistant to President Barack Obama and special adviser to the Secretary of the Treasury, she led the establishment of the consumer agency, building the structure and organization to hold the big banks and financial institutions accountable and to protect consumers from financial tricks and traps often hidden in mortgages, credit cards, and other financial products. The CFPB has returned $12 billion back into the pockets of consumers who were cheated.
Wall Street hated the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and they didn’t want Elizabeth – the agency’s biggest champion – to run it. After Senate Republicans vowed to block Elizabeth’s nomination to serve as the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Elizabeth ran for the United States Senate in her home state of Massachusetts. She has served as the Commonwealth’s Senior Senator since 2013.
In the Senate, Elizabeth has worked across the aisle to make a difference for Massachusetts. She’s secured hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for Bay State infrastructure, brought disaster relief to fishermen, and protected homeowners from skyrocketing flood insurance premiums. She’s led the charge to keep dangerous drugs out of circulation so we can fight the opioid epidemic. She’s fought to fund veterans’ health care and protect military families from scammers. And she’s worked to preserve and expand tax credits that benefit hundreds of thousands of hard working families across the Commonwealth.
She’s also become a national leader in the fight to create a level economic playing field for working people across the country.
Drawing on her experience successfully taking on the financial industry even in the face of fierce opposition from Wall Street and big corporations, Elizabeth has effectively fought to expose big banks, fraudulent lenders, and greedy for-profit colleges that have preyed on borrowers, students, members of the armed services, and taxpayers. Her work has resulted in real accountability for executives at Wells Fargo who conspired to defraud customers, changed rules to help prevent taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street risk-takers, led to new laws to protect students from being ripped off by predatory institutions, and helped tens of thousands of people get their money back when they were scammed.
Meanwhile, she’s helped lead the charge for tax policies that reward work, not wealth; for child care and paid leave laws that help working parents balance career and family; equal pay for women and fair treatment for all employees; new protections for homeowners and retirees; and measures to help consumers get a fair shake when they face powerful corporations. The fight for a fairer, stronger economy – where anyone who works hard has a real chance to get ahead –is Elizabeth’s fight, and she’s proud to wage it in the Senate every day.
Elizabeth’s husband, Bruce Mann, was born and grew up in Massachusetts. They have been married for 37 years and live in Cambridge. Amelia and Alex now are both married and Elizabeth and Bruce have three grandchildren.