New book captures Jennifer Dunn’s trailblazing political career

Jennifer Dunn - Courtesy photo
Jennifer Dunn
— image credit: Courtesy photo


A new book about Republican trailblazer Jennifer Dunn is the latest offering by a historical program found in the Office of Secretary of State.

The book is entitled “A Woman First, The Impact of Jennifer Dunn.” It is written by Trova Heffernan, director of The Legacy Project, an oral history program established in 2008.

The biography, the latest in a series on some of Washington’s most influential residents, is available in hardcover book form or free in an online version.

A book launch event will be held Sunday from 3-5 p.m. at The Golf Club at Newcastle, 15500 Six Penny Lane, Newcastle. During the gathering, former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton, radio talk show host John Carlson, Secretary of State Sam Reed and others will speak about Dunn’s legacy on Washington politics. Dunn, who lived in Bellevue and represented the area in Congress, died unexpectedly in 2007.

“Jennifer Dunn was a true trailblazer in Washington politics,” Reed said. “Whether it was becoming Washington’s first female Republican Party chair or attaining a high leadership position in Congress, she reached impressive heights during her career.

“Jennifer was a dedicated public official who served with class, civility and decency. Jennifer served our state well in Congress, and she was respected by Republicans and Democrats alike. This new book paints a vivid picture of Jennifer’s career as well as her interest in women’s rights issues.”

More than 130 years after the first women’s rights convention gathered in Seneca Falls, New York, Dunn blazed trails and built an uncommon resume. She made history as the first woman to chair the Washington State Republican Party. She secured a seat in Congress in 1992’s Year of the Woman.

While in Congress, Dunn was the fifth woman to sit on the prestigious House Ways & Means Committee, third woman in history to serve as vice chair of the House Republican Conference and first woman to run for House majority leader.

Three times Dunn engaged in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, a summit dedicated to women’s rights. After the fall of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Dunn co-chaired the Iraqi Women’s Caucus and helped inspire a new beginning for Iraqi women.

“A Woman First” is available for purchase ($25) on the Washington State Heritage Center website and It was printed with private funds.

The program will release two more books in the next several weeks, including “Across the Aisles: Sid Snyder’s Remarkable Life in Groceries & Government,” written by Jeff Burlingame, and “John Spellman: Politics Never Broke His Heart,” written by John C. Hughes.

The volume on Dunn is The Legacy Project’s eighth printed book. Other biographies are available of former Gov. Booth Gardner, former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton, and Native activist Billy Frank Jr.

The Legacy Project has published a number of oral histories in print. Subjects include former first lady Nancy Evans, longtime political reporter Adele Ferguson and civil rights pioneer Lillian Walker. Additionally, the program released a book on the historically close gubernatorial contest in 2004.

The program also has produced oral histories on astronaut Bonnie Dunbar, State Supreme Court justices Carolyn Dimmick, Charles Z. Smith and Robert F. Utter, and rocker-turned-political-activist Krist Novoselic.

The Legacy Project e-book series is available free of charge online.

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