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Congresswoman, vice-presidential candidate
Geraldine Anne Ferraro was born in Newburgh, New York, on August 26, 1935. She received her undergraduate degree from Marymount Manhattan College (1956), and her law degree from Fordham University School of Law (1960), going to classes at night while teaching second grade during the day.
After spending time in private practice, Ferraro became Assistant District Attorney for Queens County, New York, in which capacity she served from 1974 to 1978, and where she established the Special Victims Bureau.
In 1978, Ferraro was elected as a Democrat to represent New York's 9th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, and subsequently served from 1979 to 1985. In Congress, Ferraro sponsored the Women's Economic Equity Act, ending pension discrimination against women and providing greater job training and opportunities for displaced homemakers. She was not a candidate for re-election in 1984.
In 1984, Ferraro was chosen to run as Vice-President of the United States on the Democratic Party ticket, with former Vice-President Walter Mondale as the presidential candidate. The Mondale-Ferraro ticket was unable to overcome the immense popularity enjoyed by the incumbent ticket of Ronald Reagan and George Bush, however, and the Democrats lost by a substantial majority.
In 1985, Ferraro published her autobiography, Ferraro: My Story. She was a Fellow of the Institute of Politics, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, from 1988 to 1992. In 1992, she campaigned for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, but lost a heated primary battle to New York State Attorney Robert Abrams; she did, however, place ahead of the Reverend Al Sharpton and New York City Comptroller Elizabeth Holtzman. In 1993, she was appointed to represent the United States at the United Nations, and served with the rank of Ambassador during her time in that position. In 1998, she again ran for the Senate, but finished second behind Congressman Charles Schumer in the primary.
Ferraro was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, the second-most common form of blood cancer after leukemia, in 1998; she lost her battle with that disease on March 26, 2011.
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