Ann Richards graduated from Baylor University in 1954, earned a teaching certificate from the University of Texas at Austin, and taught junior high social studies and history. While married and rearing her four children in Dallas, she began volunteering in political campaigns and in causes for civil rights and economic equity.
In the early 1970s, she served as an aide to state Rep. Sarah Weddington. In 1975, members of the Democratic Party asked Ann's husband, David, to run for Travis County commissioner. When he declined, they asked her, and she agreed. Richards was elected and served six years.
In 1982, Richards was elected state treasurer, the first woman elected to statewide office in more than 50 years. She was re-elected without opposition in 1986. In 1988, she earned national attention with her Democratic National Convention keynote speech that introduced the nation to her unique style and sense of humor.
In 1990, Ann Richards became the second woman to be elected as governor of Texas. She appointed more women, Hispanics, and African Americans to state posts than the two previous governors combined. She also authorized audits of state agencies that saved $6 billion. She ran for re-election in 1994, but was defeated.
In 1995, she became a senior advisor in the Austin office of a Washington, D.C.-based law firm. In addition to her political life, Ann Richards was active in furthering interest in women's history. She was a founding member of the Foundation for Women's Resources, which created the Texas Women's History Project, the first of its kind in the nation.
She remained active in national Democratic politics. In 2006, the Austin Independent School District announced the creation of the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, which opened in 2007.
Biography Source Information
Biographies are reprinted from the Foundation for Women’s Resources (now Women’s Resources), Dallas, Texas. They originally appeared in "From Gutsy Mavericks to Quiet Heroes: True Tales of Texas Women," video study guide, Austin: The Foundation for Women's Resources, 1997. Death dates have been added where needed.