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Sept. 12, 2008

Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina is this fall's Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics. The former Hewlett-Packard CEO now serves as Victory '08 chairman for the Republican National Committee and economic adviser to Republican presidential candidate John McCain. She'll give a Sept. 16 campus lecture. Submitted photo.

Top McCain adviser is fall holder of Smith chair

by Mike Ferlazzo, News Service

Carly Fiorina -- Victory '08 chairman for the Republican National Committee, economic adviser to Republican presidential candidate John McCain, and former chair and CEO of Hewlett-Packard -- will visit Iowa State on Tuesday, Sept. 16, as the Fall 2008 Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics.

Still the only woman to lead a Fortune 20 company, Fiorina will make a presentation, "Tough Choices: Women, Leadership and Power," at 7:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Sun Room. She will discuss her memoir, Tough Choices, which details the personal story behind her rise to power as a woman in a male-dominated profession.

"The goal of the Catt Center is to bring in a diversity of voices from women leaders, and we certainly think we've struck gold with Carly Fiorina in two ways," said Dianne Bystrom, director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, which hosts the Mary Louise Smith Chair. "She was the first woman to head a Fortune 20 company and is a very publicized woman CEO with a book that we find interesting. Fiorina has been a case study in many women and leadership courses.

"The fact that she is now a very public face of the McCain presidential campaign also makes her attractive for this election cycle," Bystrom said. "She appears very much in the media as a surrogate for McCain, oftentimes to reach out to women voters. So we are also interested in her from that perspective."

Economic adviser to McCain

In her role as Victory '08 chairman for the RNC, Fiorina is the primary advocate for McCain and the Republican Party. Using her business experience, she speaks on behalf of McCain, emphasizing his plans for economic growth.

As chairman and CEO at Hewlett-Packard from 1999 to 2005, Fiorina led a reinvention of the company by steering it through the dot-com bust, the worst technology recession in 25 years, and a controversial merger with Compaq Computer -- now acknowledged to be the most successful merger in high-tech history. The merger laid the foundation for HP to become the first $100 billion info tech company with leading positions in every product line and every country.

Prior to HP, Fiorina rose through the ranks at AT&T and Lucent Technologies over a 20-year span, leading the initial public offering of Lucent -- at the time, the largest IPO in history -- and becoming president of its largest business.

She currently serves as chairman of the Fiorina Foundation, a philanthropic organization.

Fiorina is the 18th woman leader to visit Iowa State under sponsorship of the Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics, which was established in 1995 to honor the Iowa native and longtime political leader. Smith was the only woman to chair the Republican National Party (1974-77).


2008 Fall Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics Lecture

Carly Fiorina, Republican National Committee

Tuesday, Sept. 16, 7:30 p.m.

Memorial Union Sun Room