Birthplace: Pasadena, Calif.
Richardson has spent nearly his entire career as a public servant. A Democrat from New Mexico, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1983 and served until January 1997. As a congressman he was chief deputy Democratic whip and sat on the Commerce, Intelligence, and the Resource committees. In February 1997 he became the U.S. ambassador to the UN, the first Hispanic to hold the position. Known as a skilled troubleshooter, Richardson traveled to such hot spots as North Korea, Iraq, Cuba, and Sudan, where he successfully negotiated the release of American hostages. Richardson also mediated discussions between Zaire's former president Mobutu and rebel leader Laurent Kabila, which resulted in the fairly peaceful transfer of power in the country that is now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times.
In 1998, President Clinton appointed him secretary of energy. In that position, in which he served until 2001, he set aside more than 20,000 acres for wildlife preservation, helped to stem rising oil prices, and ushered in a program to remove from the Colorado River 10 tons of radioactive material.
In 2002 Richardson successfully ran for the governorship of New Mexico.
Richardson received a BA from Tufts in 1970 and a MA from Tuft's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1971.