Skip to Content

Tom Vilsack Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

Here’s a look at the life of US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.


Birth date: December 13, 1950

Birth place: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Full name: Thomas James Vilsack

Father: Bud Vilsack

Mother: Dolly Vilsack

Marriage: Christie (Bell) Vilsack (1973-present)

Children: Jess and Doug

Education: Hamilton College, B.A., 1972; Albany Law School J.D., 1975

Other Facts

Was mentioned as a possible running mate for John Kerry during the 2004 presidential election process.

Adopted as an infant from an orphanage by Bud and Dolly Vilsack.

Ran for mayor of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, after his predecessor was shot and killed at a city council meeting.


1975-1998 – Practices law.

1987-1992Mayor of Mount Pleasant, Iowa.

1992 – Elected to the Iowa Senate.

1994 – Wins reelection to the Iowa Senate.

1998 – Becomes the first Democrat elected governor of Iowa in more than 30 years.

January 15, 1999-January 12, 2007 – Governor of Iowa.

2004 – Chair of the Democratic Governors’ Association.

November 9, 2006 – Vilsack files a statement of candidacy to run for the White House in 2008, becoming the first prominent Democrat to do so.

February 23, 2007Drops out of the 2008 presidential race.

March 26, 2007Endorses Hillary Clinton and becomes co-chairman of her national campaign.

April 2007Joins Minneapolis-based international law firm Dorsey and Whitney as a managing partner.

December 17, 2008 – Is nominated by President-elect Barack Obama to be agriculture secretary.

January 21, 2009 – Is sworn in as the 30th secretary of the Department of Agriculture after a unanimous US Senate confirmation.

July 19, 2010 – Calls for the resignation of USDA official Shirley Sherrod after an excerpted video clip of Sherrod is posted online, in which Sherrod discusses an incident involving a White farmer. Vilsack contends that he made the decision without conferring with the White House.

July 21, 2010 – Vilsack apologizes to Sherrod after video of the full speech shows that her remarks from the clip were taken out of context. Vilsack offers Sherrod another job with the Department of Agriculture, which she later declines.

January 15, 2016 – President Obama names Vilsack his Cabinet-level point person to address the problem of heroin and other opiate use in rural communities.

January 13, 2017 – Vilsack steps down as agriculture secretary one week early.

February 1, 2017 – Becomes the president and CEO of the US Dairy Export Council (USDEC).

April 10, 2017 – Colorado State University announces that Vilsack and his wife, Christie Vilsack, will join the university as advisers.

February 10, 2020 – Vilsack comes forward to claim the $150,000 Powerball prize he won on January 22 in the Iowa Lottery.

February 23, 2021 The US Senate confirms Vilsack for a second stint as agriculture secretary by a vote of 92-7. Vilsack is sworn in on February 24.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: cnn-us-politics
cnn us politics

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

CNN Newsource


News Channel 3-12 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content