In 2011, Gretchen Whitmer was honored by her colleagues as she was elected Senate Democratic Leader for the current legislative session. She is the first woman to lead a caucus in the Michigan Senate. Senator Whitmer was first elected to the State Senate in March of 2006. Previously, she served as a member of the Michigan House of Representatives, from 2000-2006, where she served as the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee.
Gretchen Whitmer was born and raised in Michigan. She grew up in East Lansing and attended public schools in East Lansing and Grand Rapids, graduating from Forest Hills Central High School. She twice graduated from Michigan State University, earning both her undergraduate degree in Communications in 1993 and her law degree in 1998, graduating magna cum laude.
As an attorney in private practice, Gretchen practiced law with the firm Dickinson Wright in Lansing. She specialized in regulatory and administrative litigation, arguing cases in Circuit Court and before the Michigan Public Service Commission.
Senator Whitmer was one of the co-chairs in the successful ballot initiative and ultimate passage of Proposal 2 to change Michigan law regarding embryonic stem cell research. As one of only two lawyers in the Democratic Caucus, Senator Whitmer has been a strong voice for changing Michigan's one of a kind drug immunity law which prohibits recourse for consumers who are injured or have family members killed by a harmful drug. She is also a strong supporter of education, government reform, and anti-bullying legislation. Senator Whitmer also champions a number of consumer protection and consumer's rights bills such as Elder Abuse legislation and protecting consumers from unfair bank overdraft fees.
In 2011, Senator Whitmer made national headlines when she led the fight against Republican efforts to create a loophole in an anti-bullying bill that would have told Michigan's students it was ok to bully other kids as long as it was based on "religious beliefs or moral convictions." Hundreds of thousands of people from across the country and world joined Gretchen in opposing that "license to bully" and were successful in removing that harmful language before the bill was ultimately signed into law to give Michigan's students the protections they've been asking for as they stand up to bullying.
Gretchen lives in East Lansing with her husband Marc, her two daughters: Sherry (11), Sydney (9) and his three sons: Mason (20), Alex (20) and Winston (15).
2013 Michigan Lawyers Weekly Leader in the Law
2011 MIRS Dem Lawmaker of the Year
2011 Fight Crime Invest in Kids Champion Crime Fighter Award
2010 Mich Assn School Workers Leg of the Year
2011 Mich National Organization Leg of the Year
2006 Mich Friends of Education Literacy Advocate Award
2007 WNBA Inspiring Women Award
2003 Mich Sheriff's Assn Leg of Year
2004 Champion of Hope Award - National Kidney Foundation
2011 Michigan State Law Review Distinguished Alumnus Award
2010 WLAM Senator of the Year
2004 Ray of Light Award (LGBT community)