Former U.S. ambassador to China, former secretary of commerce, former governor of Washington, interim president of Bellevue College
At this moment in our nation’s history, unity is needed more than ever. We need to find a way to come to the table and have difficult conversations without shutting down ideas that may be different from our own. The Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy is providing necessary tools to equip us to carry out these discussions and find solutions to resolve the issues instead of allowing distrust to grow between each other.
As Governor of Washington State (the first Chinese American to be elected governor in United States history and the first Asian American governor on the mainland), U.S. Secretary of Commerce, and U.S. Ambassador to China, Gary Locke has been a leader in the areas of education, employment, trade, health care, human rights, immigration reform, privacy, and the environment. Currently, Gary Locke serves as the interim president of Bellevue College, which is the third largest higher education institution in Washington State serving nearly 30,000 students annually.
As Washington’s 21st Governor from 1997-2005, the nation’s most trade dependent state, Mr. Locke increased exports of Washington State products and services by leading trade missions to Mexico, Europe, and Asia, more than doubling the state’s exports to China.
During his tenure, he achieved bipartisan welfare reform and oversaw the gain of 280,000 private sector jobs, despite two national recessions. Mr. Locke also had the most diverse cabinet in state history. More than half his judicial appointments were women and 25% were people of color.
As U.S. Secretary of Commerce from 2009-2011, he led President Obama’s National Export Initiative to double American exports in five years; assumed a troubled 2010 Census process but which under his active supervision ended on time and substantially under budget, saving taxpayers $2 billion; and achieved the most significant reduction in patent application processing in the agency’s history: from 40 months down to one year. With U.S. Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, Mr. Locke also oversaw a significant first step in the president’s export control reform effort that strengthened national security, while making U.S. companies more competitive by easing their licensing burden for high-tech exports.
As U.S. Ambassador to China from 2011-2014, he opened markets for made-in-USA goods and services; reduced wait times for visa interviews of Chinese applicants from 100 days to 3 days; and through the Embassy’s air quality monitoring program, exposed the severity of the air pollution in China, causing the Chinese people to demand action by the government and the government in turn beginning to address the issue.
His innovations in government efficiency, customer focus, and priority-based budgeting, as well as successful and under-budget management of high-risk initiatives, have won him acclaim from nationally recognized authors and organizations, including Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. In his two-terms as Governor, Washington was ranked one of America’s four best managed states.