Ruth R. Harkin

Honored by:Tom Harkin and John and Jean Harkin
Brick location:B:5  map

Ruth Raduenz Harkin was County Attorney for Story County, Iowa from 1973 to 1979. She is the wife of U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (ISU 1962) who has represented Iowa in Congress since 1975. Ruth and Tom have two daughters Amy and Jenny. Ruth Harkin was the first woman to be elected county prosecutor in the State of Iowa. For over 20 years her career path has been one of public and private service. Along the way it has been important to Ruth to open doors of opportunity to other women. (Her daughter Amy as an infant shared Ruth's office at the Story County Court House.)

 Ruth has nurtured and encouraged many young women's careers and she is a popular speaker at women's political and career oriented events. (In March 1994 she was a principal speaker at the Spring conference on "Women and Grassroots Politics" sponsored by the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics.) Ruth also plays a major role in her husband's political career. She is at various times confidante advisor strategist and spokesperson for campaign and fund raising events. Ruth was born in 1944 in Vesta Minnesota into a family who believed in women having their own careers. Her mother was a school teacher. Growing up Ruth said she learned that "everything is possible." Her life has proved that claim. Ruth graduated from the University of Minnesota and Catholic University Law School. From 1979 to 1981 she served as Deputy General Counsel at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington D.C. Also in Washington Ruth worked for the Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld law firm working with U.S. companies.

In 1993 President Bill Clinton chose Ruth Harkin to be President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. OPIC is a government agency that encourages mutually beneficial American private investment in developing countries and newly emerging free market economies such as the New Independent States of the former Soviet Union South Africa South America and the Middle East. Under Ruth Harkin's leadership OPIC is increasing its activity to the highest levels in the agency's 23 year history.

When President Clinton spoke at Iowa State University on April 25, 1995 he had high praise for Ruth Harkin. In his speech at Hilton Coliseum President Clinton said of Ruth "She has done more to create American jobs by financing international trade than any person who has ever held the position. You can be proud of her."