Robin Carnahan

Last updated

Robin Carnahan
SOS Robin Carnahan.jpg
Administrator of General Services
Assumed office
July 2, 2021
President Joe Biden
Deputy Katy Kale
Preceded by Emily W. Murphy
38th Secretary of State of Missouri
In office
January 10, 2005 January 14, 2013
GovernorMatt Blunt
Jay Nixon
Preceded by Matt Blunt
Succeeded by Jason Kander
Personal details
Robin Colleen Carnahan

(1961-08-04) August 4, 1961 (age 60)
Rolla, Missouri, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s)Juan Antolinez
Relatives Mel Carnahan (father)
Jean Carpenter (mother)
See Carnahan family
Education William Jewell College (BA)
University of Virginia (JD)

Robin Colleen Carnahan (born August 4, 1961) is an American businesswoman and lawyer and former Missouri Secretary of State who is the senate-confirmed Administrator of General Services. She is the daughter of Missouri politicians Mel and Jean Carnahan. In 2010, she was the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate to replace retiring Republican Senator Kit Bond. She was then a senior advisor at the global strategy firm Albright Stonebridge Group. In 2013, Carnahan was named a fellow at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. In February 2016, she joined the General Services Administration as the director of the state and local practice at 18F. [1] On April 6, 2021, President Joe Biden nominated her to serve as the administrator of the General Services Administration. [2] Her nomination was confirmed by the US Senate on June 23, 2021, [3] and she was sworn into office on July 2. [4]


Early life, education and career

Carnahan grew up near Rolla, Missouri, the only daughter in a family of four children. She attended Rolla High School and graduated, magna cum laude , from William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics.

Carnahan received her Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1986, where she was the executive editor of the Virginia Journal of International Law .


Following graduation from law school, she returned to Missouri to practice business and corporate law with the St. Louis firm of Thompson & Mitchell.

In 1990, Carnahan went to work in central Europe as part of a team from the National Democratic Institute. In this role, she helped draft voting laws, train new political leaders and monitor elections in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Since then, she has led international election observer delegations and promoted democracy in a dozen countries and currently serves on NDI's board of directors. [5] During the Clinton Administration, Carnahan served as special assistant to the chairman of the Export–Import Bank of the United States, working on programs to help U.S. companies increase exports of US goods and services. [6] Later, Carnahan founded and managed an international trade and business consulting firm to advise public and privately held US companies expanding into global markets.

As of December 2005, Carnahan continued to manage her family's farm and Angus cattle operation outside of Rolla, Missouri. [7] [8]

Missouri secretary of state

On November 2, 2004, Carnahan was elected as Missouri's 38th secretary of state. In her first bid for elected office, she defeated then-Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives Catherine Hanaway by over 120,000 votes. [9] In November 2008, Carnahan was reelected with nearly 62% of the vote by receiving over 1.7 million votes, the most votes ever cast for a candidate in Missouri history. In 2005 she was named one of 24 "rising stars" in American politics by the Aspen Institute's Rodel Foundation, a leading nonpartisan think tank.

As CEO of a $50mm government agency, Carnahan emerged as a national leader in pioneering the use of innovative technology to save money and improve government service delivery for businesses and citizens. To reduce red-tape and costs for businesses, she worked closely with business leaders to identify service improvements, increase online business filings by more than 80%, streamline regulations and reduce filing fees by over $19 million. [10] As the state's securities regulator during the 2008 financial crisis, Carnahan gained national recognition for negotiating record settlements on behalf of investors in a number of high-profile cases, including a national settlement in August 2008 in which Wachovia Securities agreed to repay over 40,000 investors who had nearly $9 billion frozen in auction-rate securities accounts. [11] [12]

Carnahan also worked to increase open access to public documents and data by expanding online availability of information through the Missouri State Archives and Missouri State Library.

In 2008, Carnahan worked with Missouri's local election authorities to ensure all eligible Missourians had access to the ballot box. She has been a strong advocate for early voting, paper ballots and better training for Election Day poll workers. [13]

Carnahan served as Co-Chair of both the Elections and Securities Committees of the National Association of Secretaries of State. She also served on the executive committee and as Chair of the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State.

Carnahan's tenure in office focused on providing outstanding customer service to Missouri businesses, financial professionals, investors, voters, genealogists, researchers and hundreds of thousands of other customers. In the closeout audit at the end of her term in 2013, Republican State Auditor Thomas Schweich gave Carnahan's office the highest possible performance rating of "excellent". [14]

2010 U.S. Senate campaign

Carnahan with Barack Obama at the Folly Theater in Kansas City on July 8, 2010 Carnahan-obama.jpg
Carnahan with Barack Obama at the Folly Theater in Kansas City on July 8, 2010

On February 3, 2009, Carnahan announced she would run for the United States Senate in 2010 to replace retiring U.S. Senator Kit Bond, saying it's time to "stop the political bickering and start solving problems". [15] She was elected the Democratic nominee in the primary election held August 3, 2010.

In October, Carnahan was endorsed by the Kansas City Star , [16] the St. Louis Post-Dispatch , [17] and the St. Louis American . [18] However, Carnahan was defeated by Republican Roy Blunt as part of a Republican wave of victories in the midterm election.

Post-political career and public service

After leaving public office, Carnahan joined the global strategy firm Albright Stonebridge Group, founded by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. [19] She remained in Missouri and began advising civic technology firms and organizations seeking to help government deliver better services for citizens and cut costs for taxpayers through smarter use of technology. She is a board member and serviced as a strategic adviser for LaunchCode, [20] an organization that connects people to economic opportunity through paid apprenticeships in programming and technology. She has been regularly featured in the media and spoken before numerous national groups and congressional and legislative committees on finance, regulatory and elections issues.

In 2013 Carnahan was named a Fellow at the University of Chicago's non-partisan Institute of Politics.[ citation needed ] Carnahan also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs[ citation needed ] and on the National Advisory Committee of the Democracy Fund. [21]

In February 2016, Carnahan joined the General Services Administration as the director of the state and local practice of 18F. [22] There, she leads a team of digital technology consultants who provide consulting and acquisition services to help state and local agencies use the best practices of human-centered design, agile, and modular procurement. [23]

Carnahan often speaks about using innovation and technology to improve delivery of government services, including at Tech@State, [24] the Code for America Summit, [25] Personal Democracy Forum [26] and the 2016 IT Solutions Management Conference, [27] FedScoop named Carnahan as one of the Top Women in Tech 2017. [28]

Personal life

Carnahan comes from a family that has been active in Missouri politics for several generations. Her grandfather, A. S. J. Carnahan, was elected to the House of Representatives as a Democrat from south-central Missouri. He served only one term before being defeated in 1946, but ran again in 1948 and won. Carnahan served in the House for six more terms and in 1961 was appointed by President John F. Kennedy as the first American ambassador to Sierra Leone. Her father, Mel Carnahan, served in the state legislature, as State Treasurer, Lieutenant Governor and as Governor of Missouri from 1993 until his death in 2000 in a plane crash while campaigning for the US Senate against incumbent John Ashcroft. Her mother, Jean Carnahan, became the first woman from Missouri to serve in the United States Senate from 2001 to 2003 when she was appointed to fill the seat Gov. Carnahan won posthumously.

Her brother Russ Carnahan was a member of Congress and represented the southern portion of the St. Louis Metropolitan Area. Her brother Tom Carnahan founded Wind Capital Group. Robin Carnahan is married to Juan Carlos Antolinez.

On February 27, 2006, Carnahan announced that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She continued to serve as Secretary of State while undergoing treatment and her cancer is in remission. [29]

Electoral history

2010 U.S. Senate election

2010 race for U.S. Senate
Republican Roy Blunt 1,054,160 54.23 −1.86
Democratic Robin Carnahan789,73640.63−2.17

Missouri secretary of state

2008 race for secretary of state
Democratic Robin Carnahan (incumbent) 1,749,152 61.81 +10.78
Republican Mitchell Hubbard1,006,08835.55−10.86
Libertarian Wes Upchurch39,2961.39−0.55
Constitution Denise C. Neely35,2741.25+0.67
2004 race for secretary of state
Democratic Robin Carnahan 1,367,783 51.03
Republican Catherine Hanaway 1,243,00346.41
Libertarian Christopher Davis51,9641.94
Constitution Donna Ivanovich15,5760.58

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  1. Feds Extend 18F's Silicon Valley Expertise to Cities, States
  2. "President Biden Announces his Intent to Nominate Robin Carnahan as Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA)". The White House. April 6, 2021. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  3. "PN272 – Nomination of Robin Carnahan for General Services Administration, 117th Congress (2021–2022)". June 16, 2021. Retrieved June 23, 2021.
  4. "GovSearch News: Robin Carnahan has been confirmed and sworn in as GSA Administrator". Retrieved July 15, 2021.
  5. National Democratic Institute Delegation Arrives to Observe Lebanon's June 7 Parliamentary Elections. Archived June 10, 2010, at the Wayback Machine National Democratic Institute , June 3, 2009.
  6. Secretary Robin Carnahan (MO). Project Vote Smart .
  7. "Robin Carnahan, Missouri's Secretary of State". SCA News. December 29, 2005.
  8. "Carnahan Plays Up Her Missouri Roots In Senate Race". All Things Considered. National Public Radio. June 22, 2010. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  9. 2004 Missouri Secretary of State Election Results.
  10. Making Our Economy Strong for Working Families. Archived August 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Robin Carnahan: United States Senate.
  11. Volkmann, Kelsey. Carnahan: Wachovia close to auction rate securities deal. St. Louis Business Journal, August 11, 2008.
  12. Wednesday editorial: (Not) just like cash. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 19, 2008.
  13. Salter, Jim. Carnahan to push for early voting. Archived July 27, 2012, at Columbia Missourian, November 6, 2008.
  14. Auditor Gives Carnahan's Office "Excellent" Report for Final Year Archived April 11, 2013, at
  15. Robin Carnahan is IN for U.S. Senate in 2010. Prime Buzz.
  16. Recommendations for Missouri's top races, editorial board, Kansas City Star , October 24, 2010.
  17. Carnahan for Senate: Part of the solution, not the problem, editorial board, St. Louis Post-Dispatch , October 22, 2010.
  18. American endorses Robin Carnahan and Barbara Fraser, editorial board, St. Louis American , October 21, 2010.
  19. "Former Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan Joins Albright Stonebridge Group". Albright Stonebridge Group. September 27, 2013. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
  20. "Robin Carnahan joins LaunchCode as advisor". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. August 13, 2014. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
  21. "About Us: Democracy Fund". DemocracyFund. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  22. Shueh, Jason (February 23, 2016). "Feds Extend 18F's Silicon Valley Expertise to Cities, States". Government Technology . Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  23. "18F to Partner with Federal Agencies Providing Grants to State and Local Programs to Upgrade Digital Services". General Services Administration. February 24, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  24. techatstate (December 14, 2012), Tech@State: ElecTech Welcoming Remarks & Keynote Address , retrieved April 22, 2017
  25. Code for America (November 8, 2016), Robin Carnahan: Do it now; The importance of bringing technologists to the table , retrieved April 22, 2017
  26. PdF YouTube (June 15, 2016), Robin Carnahan | Beyond the Beltway , retrieved April 22, 2017
  27. "ism-conference". ism-conference. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  28. "FedScoop's Top Women in Tech 2017: Robin Carnahan – Fedscoop". Fedscoop. March 15, 2017. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  29. Wagman, Jake. Carnahan, a breast cancer survivor, assembles team for Komen race. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 17, 2010.
Political offices
Preceded by
Matt Blunt
Secretary of State of Missouri
Succeeded by
Jason Kander
Party political offices
Preceded by
Nancy Farmer
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Missouri
(Class 3)

Succeeded by
Jason Kander