The Honorable Sue W. Kelly
"But when I was in Congress, it was men. And the men were treated with great deference, especially by the other men. The women, they had nothing to lose by challenging leadership, nothing at all to lose by challenging the leadership and saying, ‘We think this should be done. Let’s get it done.’ Or, ‘We think this is wrong. Let’s don’t do it.’ I’ve watched women manipulate the situation in a way where they just got stuff done."
—The Honorable Sue W. Kelly, June 23, 2016
U.S. Representative from New York (January 3, 1995–January 3, 2007)
Sue W. Kelly made the transition from a behind-the-scenes campaign worker to a candidate for Congress in 1994 when incumbent Representative Hamilton Fish, Jr., of New York declined to seek re-election. In her oral history, Kelly speaks of her familiarity with the district as a longtime resident, small business owner, and volunteer for Congressman Fish.
As part of the freshman class that helped Republicans take the majority in the House for the first time in 40 years, Kelly reflects on the many opportunities afforded to new Members, such as plum committee assignments and placement on influential investigative groups. In her interview, Kelly observes that Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia supported women Representatives, providing chances for advancement within the party and in the institution. Kelly also describes how women on both sides of the aisle worked together to promote legislation like the Violence Against Women Act. Kelly’s oral history offers a unique look at the majority whip operation as House Republicans sought to implement the centerpiece of their successful campaign to retake the House, the “Contract with America.” Kelly also offers a comparison of the leadership style of the two Speakers she worked with during her six terms in office—Gingrich and J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois—as well as poignant memories of representing a New York district after the September 11, 2001, attacks against the United States.
KELLY, Sue W., a Representative from New York; born in Lima, Allen County, Ohio, September 26, 1936; graduated from Lima Central High School, Lima, Ohio; B.A., Denison University, Granville, Ohio, 1958; M.A., Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, N.Y., 1985; biomedical researcher, Boston City Hospital, Boston, Mass., and New England Institute for Medical Research; teacher; staff for United States Representative Hamilton Fish of New York; patient advocate, emergency room, St. Luke’s Hospital, N.Y.; adjunct professor, Graduate Program in Health Advocacy, Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, N.Y.; certified New York ombudsman for nursing homes; member, New York Republican family committee; elected as a Republican to the One Hundred Fourth and to the five succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1995–January 3, 2007); unsuccessful candidate for reelection to the One Hundred Tenth Congress in 2006.
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A Different Time
The Honorable Sue W. Kelly recalls how girls were treated differently because of their gender when she was younger.
"Sue Kelly For Congress"
The Honorable Sue W. Kelly describes campaigning with her husband.
Working Hard on the Campaign
The Honorable Sue W. Kelly recalls her busy schedule as she traversed the district during her first campaign to fill the House seat previously held by Representative Hamilton Fish, Jr.
Beating the Odds
The Honorable Sue W. Kelly describes the obstacles she faced during her first campaign for Congress in 1994.
"There Were No Women on that Committee"
The Honorable Sue W. Kelly explains how gender could serve as an obstacle in Congress.
Differing Styles of Legislating
The Honorable Sue W. Kelly observes the different approaches of men and women Members of Congress.
"What Do You Think They've Been Doing?"
The Honorable Sue W. Kelly recollects the uncertainty felt by some Members when women Representatives joined forces.
Long Days and Nights at the Capitol
The Honorable Sue W. Kelly remembers the hectic schedule during the First 100 Days of the 104th Congress (1995–1997).
The Violence Against Women Act
The Honorable Sue W. Kelly describes the role of Republican Congresswomen, like Representatives Connie Morella of Maryland and Jennifer Dunn of Washington, in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
New Perspective in the Whip's Office
The Honorable Sue W. Kelly describes the Republican whip operation under Representative Tom DeLay of Texas while she served in the House.
"It Was a Horrible Feeling"
The Honorable Sue W. Kelly shares her memories of returning to New York City after the attacks on September 11, 2001.