After an Ivy League education — an undergraduate degree in chemistry from Cornell University in 1960, followed by her LL.B. from Harvard in 1963, as one of only 16 women in a class of 500-plus — Janet Reno faced a job market that was not particularly favorable for women.However, once in the "system," she quickly gained respect for such ideas as reforming the juvenile justice system in Florida, putting pressure on fathers owing child support, and establishing the Miami Drug Court while in the Dade County State Attorney's office.That success in the public sector attracted the attention of President Bill Clinton, who named her as the first woman to serve as the U.S. Attorney General, in March 1993.The early yearsReno was born into a family of investigators — her father, Henry, had a 43-year career as police reporter for the Miami Herald after immigrating from Denmark; her mother, Jane, became an investigative reporter for the Miami News after her children had grown up and moved away.Janet's early accolades included being the debate champ at Coral Gables High School and becoming the president of the Women's Self Government Association while at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, which paid for her room and board during her term in office.Reno's agendaLike most civilians appointed to a Cabinet post, Reno took office with rose-colored promises to:
The ride through two Clinton administrations was far from smooth, however. She was often the lightning rod for a number of controversies that cropped up, including:
In retrospect, Reno made her mistakes as well as basked in the glow of her triumphs. She showed that even her tough-minded, sometimes intimidating, manner emanating from her six foot, three inch stature, could have a laugh at her own humanity, as exemplified by a spoof of her on Saturday Night Live; Will Farrell did the honors.