About the Chairman
Lamar Alexander was born in Maryville, the son of a kindergarten teacher and an elementary school principal. He is a seventh-generation Tennessean.
He is the only Tennessean ever popularly elected both governor and U.S. Senator. He has been U.S. Education Secretary and University of Tennessee president. He chaired the National Governors Association and President Reagan's Commission on Americans Outdoors.
When first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2002, Alexander had spent more adult years in the private sector than in public life. In 1972 he co-founded a Nashville law firm. In 1987 he and his wife and three others, including Bob Keeshan, television’s Captain Kangaroo, founded Corporate Child Care, Inc. The company became publicly traded in 1997 (NASDAQ) and later merged with Bright Horizons, Inc., creating the world’s largest provider of worksite daycare.
Three times between 2007 and 2012, his colleagues elected Sen. Alexander Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference — the third-ranking Republican position in the United States Senate.
In January 2015, Alexander was elected by his fellow committee members to serve as the Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee where he has said his top priorities will be to fix No Child Left Behind, deregulate and reauthorize the Higher Education act, and modernize the Food and Drug Administration so that we can bring more cures and medical devices to market faster and cheaper.
Alexander will also serve as the Chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees energy and water appropriations. His priorities will include unleashing nuclear power and other sources of the cheap, clean, reliable energy America needs, supporting government-sponsored research that leads to innovation and jobs in our free enterprise system and controlling the costs of big government construction projects in Tennessee and across the country. He will also continue to support our nation’s harbors and inland waterways. Alexander was reelected to a third term in the U.S. Senator in November 2014.
In his campaign for governor, Alexander walked 1,000 miles across Tennessee in his now-famous red and black plaid shirt. Once elected, he helped Tennessee become the third largest auto producer, the state with the top-rated four-lane highway system and the first state to pay teachers more for teaching well. He started Tennessee’s Governor’s Schools for outstanding students. When he left the governor’s office, the state had a Triple A bond rating, fewer employees and no long-term highway debt.
He is a classical and country pianist and the author of seven books, including Six Months Off, the story of his family’s life in Australia after he was governor.
Lamar Alexander and Honey Buhler were married in 1969. They have four children and eight grandchildren, and a dog named Rufus. He is a Presbyterian elder.