Ella T. Grasso, the first woman to be elected governor of a state “in her own right” for #WomensHistoryMonth

Mar 11, 2021 321

Born Ella Rose Tambussi in 1919, in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, Grasso’s parent’s both were Italian immigrants. Grasso worked her way up the state political ranks, elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1952, then becoming the first female Floor Leader of the House in 1955 and in 1958, elected the Secretary of State of Connecticut, for which she served three terms.

In 1970, she was elected to the U.S. House of Representative and served for two terms. And then in 1974, Grasso made history, winning a historic race for the governorship of Connecticut. Previous to Grasso's win, three other women had served as governors, however Grasso’s was significant because she was the first woman elected, without being the wife or widow of a past governor (as the previous female governors had been).

During her time in office, Grasso received high praise for how she dealt with the Blizzard of 78', where nearly 30 inches of snow accumulated across Connecticut, virtually stopping all activity. Grasso decided to close the entire state, which kept people off the roads, giving relief to cleanup and rescue authorities.

Grasso resigned from her position as governor in 1980, after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and passed away at the age of 61, months later. She posthumously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, induction in the National Women’s Hall of Fame and inaugural induction into the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame.


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