Speaker Bios

Pete Buttigieg
Secretary of Transportation
U.S. Department of Transportation

Pete Buttigieg serves as the 19th Secretary of Transportation, having been sworn in on February 3, 2021. His focus as Secretary is to deliver the world’s leading transportation system for the American people and economy. He has worked to achieve organizational excellence in the department’s operations, and to focus the department on five policy goals: safety, jobs, equity, climate, and innovation. The son of Joseph Buttigieg, who immigrated to the United States from Malta, and Jennifer Anne Montgomery, a fifth-generation Hoosier, Secretary Buttigieg is a graduate of Harvard University and Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar and completed a degree in philosophy, politics, and economics. He lives with his husband Chasten, their two children, Gus and Penelope, and their dog. 

Dr. Miguel Cardona
Secretary of Education
U.S. Department of Education

Dr. Miguel A. Cardona was sworn in as the 12th U.S. Secretary of Education on March 2, 2021. Secretary Cardona is one of three children, whose grandparents moved from Puerto Rico in the 1960s for better opportunities in the mainland United States. That experience, and his bicultural upbringing, have helped shape Secretary Cardona’s passion to serve all students and improve their opportunities for success. Secretary Cardona’s focus throughout his career on raising the bar for equity and excellence in education for all learners guides his leadership of the U.S. Department of Education in service of the nation’s 65 million students, ranging from prekindergarten to adult learners, and their families. Secretary Cardona earned a bachelor’s degree from Central Connecticut State University, a master’s degree, two additional advanced leadership certifications, and a doctoral degree from the University of Connecticut. His greatest source of pride is his family. Secretary Cardona and his beautiful wife Marissa, an educator herself, are the proud parents of two children. 

Julie A. Su
Acting Secretary of Labor
U.S. Department of Labor

Julie Su became Acting Secretary of Labor on March 11, 2023. She was previously confirmed by the Senate to serve as the deputy secretary of labor on July 13, 2021. As deputy secretary, she served as the de-facto chief operating officer for the department, overseeing its workforce, managing its budget and executing the priorities of the secretary of labor. Su has taught at UCLA Law School and Northeastern Law School. She is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School and began her career with a Skadden Fellowship. Su speaks Mandarin and Spanish. 

Senator Tina Smith

As someone who believes that politics should be about improving people’s lives, it didn’t take long for Senator Smith to become active in her community. She started by getting involved in local campaigns—first by taking her two young children in a stroller to talk with voters in apartment complexes, who were often ignored—and then went on to manage multiple political campaigns. Tina became Minnesota’s 48th Lieutenant Governor in 2015 and was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2017. She won back-to-back election victories, securing her first 6-year term in November 2020. She currently serves on four Senate committees: Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; and Indian Affairs. In 2021, she was named Chair of two Senate subcommittees: Housing, Transportation, and Community Development and Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade. 

U.S. Representative Don Bacon

In Congress, Representative Bacon serves on two committees: The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) and the House Committee on Agriculture. His service on HASC includes work on the National Defense Authorization Act each year.  In the 118th Congress, Rep. Bacon was appointed as Chair of the Quality-of-Life Panel.  The panel focuses its work on housing, childcare, spousal employment and other issues to improve the lives of those who serve our country, and their families.   Representative Bacon is a veteran and serving in the U.S. Air Force.

U.S. Representative Salud Carbajal

Congressman Carbajal serves on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Committee on Agriculture, and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, where he serves as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. As a member of the Armed Services Committee, Rep. Carbajal has offered amendments in the National Defense Authorization Act that would direct the Department of Defense to research the effects of climate change on military operations, develop educational partnerships between the Department of Defense and local colleges, and ensure female service members have adequate body armor suited to fit their needs. Rep. Carbajal is a member of the Former Local Elected Officials Caucus, having served as County Supervisor for the County of Santa Barbara, California. Representative Carbaja is a veteran and served in the Marine Corps.

Mayor Jane Castor
Tampa, Florida

Mayor Jane Castor is the 59th Mayor of the City of Tampa. Born and raised in Tampa, Jane has spent a lifetime in service to the community, first as a police officer, then as Tampa’s first female Chief of Police, and finally as the city’s 59th Mayor. She graduated from Chamberlain High School and attended the University of Tampa on an athletic scholarship. Jane spent 31 years with the Tampa Police Department, serving in nearly every capacity and in nearly every neighborhood of the city. In October of 2009, Castor became Tampa’s first female Chief of Police, serving for six years in that role. Jane Castor is a proud Seminole Heights resident where she lives with her longtime partner Ana Cruz, both Tampa natives who enjoy fishing, Lightning hockey games, and family time with their two boys Sergei and Seely. 

Steve Marshall
Attorney General, State of Alabama

Steve Marshall was sworn in as the forty-eighth Attorney General of the State of Alabama on February 10, 2017, and was resoundingly re-elected in 2018 and 2022. As Attorney General, Marshall has embraced his role as the state’s chief law enforcement officer and has committed himself to making Alabama a safer place to live by directly addressing fatal flaws in our criminal justice system. Marshall spearheaded the reformation of the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles, launched an Initiative on Violent Crime, and advocated for Truth in Sentencing.    

Since taking office, Marshall successfully brought action against numerous distributors and manufacturers who caused the opioid epidemic. This litigation generated over $276 million for the State of Alabama. As a strong advocate for victims, in April 2023, Marshall led the prosecution in a 1999 cold case where two Alabama teens were brutally murdered. He successfully obtained a guilty verdict after a 24 year-long wait.

Donald Mason
Mayor, Zanesville, Ohio

Donald Mason is a lifelong resident of Zanesville, Ohio and was elected to office on November 5th, 2019 with over 65% of the vote, winning every precinct. He was unopposed in the November, 2023 re-election.  Mason has long been committed to public service. After graduating from Muskingum University in 1979, where he majored in Political Science and History, he was elected as a write in candidate to the Zanesville City Council in 1979 and served on the council through 1983.  

In 1983, at the age of 26, Mason was elected Mayor of the City of Zanesville, where he oversaw natural gas and cable negotiations, water and sewer infrastructure development and other public works projects. Leaving local government in 1991, Mason then became Chief of the Division of Oil and Gas at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).  From 1993 to 1995, as Deputy Director of ODNR, he supervised the Divisions of Parks, Forestry, Watercraft, Natural Area Preserves, and Wildlife. Those agencies totaled over 2000 employees and $100,000,000 in annual budgets. In 2022, Mason was appointed to the Board of Directors of OneOhio Recovery Foundation, where he serves as  Chairman.  

Tom Perez
Senior Advisor & Assistant to the President
White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs

Tom Perez serves as Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Perez brings decades of local, state, and federal experience to the White House having served as a former Montgomery County, MD Councilmember; as Secretary of Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation; as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice; as Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and as Secretary of Labor under President Obama. He received his bachelor’s degree from Brown University, his master’s degree from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and his juris doctorate from Harvard Law School. 

Mark Hayes
Executive Director, Arkansas Municipal League

Mark R. Hayes joined the Arkansas Municipal League in 1989 as an in-house litigator before becoming the League’s general counsel. He was appointed executive director in 2018. Prior to joining the League, he served the city of Little Rock as an assistant city attorney and municipal judge.  Hayes is married to Alison Offutt, a reformed and no longer practicing attorney.  

Between them, Mark and Alison are parents to four terrific kids, Franz, Bliss, Colin and Wells. Unfortunately, the Hayes family lost Wells to an overdose in April 2020 following a hard-fought battle with opioid addiction. Like so many before him, opioid addiction was a fight too powerful for Wells to overcome.  Wells’ struggle with opioid addiction—as well as that of hundreds of thousands of Arkansans and millions of Americans—has been a driving force behind Hayes’ fierce commitment to fighting this epidemic. 

Photo: Annie Leibovitz

Doris Kearns Goodwin
Presidential Historian and Pulitzer-Prize-Winning Author

Presidential historian and Pulitzer-prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin will speak at the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference.  Kearns Goodwin is recognized as the premier scholar and author on American presidents. Her five-decade career studying American presidents has focused on Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson. A highly acclaimed author, her seventh book, Leadership in Turbulent Times, was published to critical acclaim and became an instant New York Times bestseller.