Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi Steps Down

With her term complete, we reflect on the memorable work done by Nancy Pelosi. She has fought, continued to fight and finally the fight is done.


US Department of Labor, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Then Representative Nancy Pelosi leads a discussion on equal pay day fighting for increase in wages for women across the country.

As the beat of the gavel marks the ending of her term, we are reminded that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, tasked with leading the United States House of Representatives for nearly two decades, truly has preserved the mantle of democracy across her illustrious career. 

Pelosi’s life was one of service, filled with excitement, the occasional moment of sass, and diplomatic solutions to nearly every problem that came across her desk.

Pelosi certainly served as an architect to the nation’s most major modern pieces of legislation. Neither the Affordable Care Act nor conversations to ensure the passage of the Recovery and Reinvestment Act would make headlining news without her charisma, grit and determination. Pelosi has continued to persevere in her time as Representative of the 11th district of California, making sure she earned respect from both sides of the aisle.

As she has made her exit from the hallowed halls of our nation’s Capitol building as one of America’s most historic political matriarchs, the country’s eyes shift towards her successor, Hakeem Jeffries, who enters office as the first Black Party leader in U.S. history. Only time will be able to tell if he is going to live up to Pelosi’s legacy. 

Born Nancy D’Alesandro on March 26th, 1940 in Baltimore, Maryland, Pelosi comes from a legacy of giving back to the public, commitment to country and service. Her father, Thomas D’ Alesandro, and mother Annunciata D’Alesandro, formed an Italian-American family built on traditional beliefs and values. At the time of Pelosi’s birth, her father had climbed the ranks to become a high profile member of the House of Representatives as a Democratic Congressman. Having her father as an inspiration in her household most certainly influenced Pelosi to pursue politics in the future. 

At age 47, Pelosi was tapped by her close friend, dying Congresswoman Sala Burton, to run for office. Pelosi at the time held tens of house parties, recruited thousands of volunteers, and in 2 months time, she raised nearly one million dollars. On election night, fingernails gripped around Pelosi and her closest friends waiting anxiously for the first returns. As the night settled, it became clear that Pelosi would defeat one of San Francisco’s senior supervisors, and the rest is captured in history. Nearly 15 years after being elected, Pelosi would become the first female House minority leader. 

Yet, despite public perception, Pelosi didn’t always have the perfect leg up in the political world. In fact, she was at first a housewife. After meeting her husband, Paul Pelosi, at Georgetown and marrying shortly thereafter in 1963, Nancy chose to raise her five children while Paul maintained his career in banking. Pelosi did, however, volunteer for campaigns left and right while keeping a small Democratic Party Club at her home. 

During the 2006 midterm elections, Pelosi, along with party leaders Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid, created a plan to take back the majorities in both chambers of Congress. Their plan worked, and the House Democrats manufactured a stunning 8 point margin in the popular vote. Winning 233 seats during that cycle, Pelosi cemented her rise to House Majority leader. On January 4th, 2007, Nancy Patricia Pelosi officially became the first House Speaker to be a woman. 

From homemaking to House Leadership, Pelosi’s rise to power reminds us that even the humblest of backgrounds can be honed to harness greatness. Pelosi is vindictive proof of that, and her caliber in politics in the impact she’s had is a human one. Each and every corner of America has been affected, in some manner, by the personhood of Pelosi. Even beyond our borders, Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan in August proved that she is someone of international influence. 

Having served alongside four former or sitting U.S. Presidents – George W. Bush, Obama, Trump and Biden – her oversight has led the House through some of its most tumultuous moments. During the Bush Administration, she served alongside a rival unlike any other. Having described Bush as a “total failure” right before the 2008 election, she has also worked with people along the same party lines as her. Pelosi’s work on the economy through the Recovery Act underneath Obama’s oversight is something that brought millions of jobs for the Americans across the country. 

Notably, Pelosi’s work on the environment has proved extremely impactful. Thousands of people fight alongside her, especially in the passage of major legislative pieces. Her work on conservation has consisted of broadband pieces of legislation that primarily target and offset the problematic byproducts of mining, drilling and deforestation.

She’s been a force that has transformed the beliefs of accountability within our government. Her leadership has allowed the House to sweep through some of the toughest ethics reform legislation in Congress history, including the creation of an independent ethics panel. Pelosi also headed a historic legislative campaign for voting rights, and passing The For The People Act helped increase access to the ballot, while also cleaning up governmental corruption and helping to move forward the push to outlaw gerrymandering. 

Pelosi has also illuminated center stage in other aspects. While being the Democratic leader, Pelosi’s charm allowed her to deliver losses to the GOP even with a majority. During the 114th Congress, she helped move forward an agreement to sustain and strengthen the abilities of Medicare; building a system that helped ensure accurate payments and increase broadband quality of care for so many. Her work in the opioid epidemic has certainly been crucial by ensuring further funding in NIH medical research and granting permanent authority to the WTC Health Program.

Her retirement comes in the midst of the most tumultuous and unexpected midterm election in modern history. With Republicans underperforming their expectations to sweep both the House and Senate, Democrats armed themselves with rather unheard of party leaders to create a diverse coalition of politicians to preserve the future of the party.

Through a survey that I conducted of Bronx Science students, I received answers from many on how impactful her political influence and presence has been. 

Nora Gupta ’25 said, “Nancy Pelosi is rather remarkable. She is the first woman to become Speaker of the House, a remarkable milestone and achievement in my opinion. Although I am not as caught up on current day politics as I would like to be, I have heard how Pelosi does acknowledge conservatives and moderates as well as focusing on diversifying functions. Currently, the most I hear from the people around me regarding Pelosi is that the guy who put his foot on her desk is on trial.”

Most certainly something that is true is that Pelosi was known for being able to engage people from all walks of life and politicians from across the political spectrum. Back to back relief and rescue packages brought to Pelosi’s desk were abled to be passed, due to her influence and consistent calls and bargains with Republican leaders. 

Even so, with all of the positive attributes to Pelosi’s career, many believe that her ability to persuade moderates and conservatives held her back from enacting much needed progressive action.

Chris Proccacino ’24 added that, “Nancy Pelosi transformed the House of Representatives and was an extremely influential figure, but unfortunately one of the most memorable aspects of her career is her failure to pass more progressive reform. Even though progressive reform is difficult in such a polarized nation, her overly moderate stance on many critical issues made it more difficult to achieve the reform we need.” 

It’s clear that Pelosi has had an incredible impact on the people and future leaders of this nation, inspiring them to become more than they were yesterday. The impassioned speeches that she gave on the House Floor, as well as outside her job, makes her one of the most confident orators of her generation. It is not without the wittiness of a San Francisco native that she would have been able to come so far. Making her mark, while keeping her prose, confidence and natural ability to walk any stage and win over any audience is certainly no easy feat. 

Pelosi’s virtuosity and grace is captured in the presence of so many, while we are reminded that it is her charisma, embedded in every line of legislation that she wrote, which will keep her memory alive. Pelosi hasn’t had a perfect career, but she most certainly has had a personable one, that will stand the test of time.

American actress Anna Kendrick said it best. We’re going to miss her by “her talk and walk.” That’s for sure. 

Pelosi’s virtuosity and grace is captured in the presence of so many, while we are reminded that it is her charisma, embedded in every line of legislation that she wrote, which will keep her memory alive.