JEAN CARNAHAN IS A Democratic Party activist who served in the United States Senate from 2001-2002, in place of her husband, Mel Carnahan. Her husband died in a plane crash three weeks before the election. After he won the election, Jean Carnahan was appointed to fill his seat becoming the first Missouri woman to serve as a US senator. Her years of involvement in state politics plus her degree in business and administration from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., made her a valid choice to fill the U.S. Senate seat.
Before becoming a U.S. Senator, Jean Carnahan devoted her two terms as Missouri’s first lady to improving the lives of Missouri’s children and speaking out on behalf of victims of domestic violence and other problems.
As first lady, she advocated childhood immunization and created an annual arts festival for children. She was the co-founder of “Children in the Workplace,” a project to develop employer-supported, on-site daycare centers for working families. She raised funds for the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center and helped build homes for Habitat for Humanity. In 1998, Carnahan completed her first book, “If Walls Could Talk,” a 440-page history of Missouri’s first families and the challenges they faced in public service. In 1995, she received the Child Advocate of the Year Award for Boys and Girls Town of Missouri. She was named 1997 Citizen of the Year by the March of Dimes. She helped create the Missouri Center for the Book to recognize authors from around the state.