First Elected at 18, Louisiana's Karen Carter Peterson Now Leads the Democratic Party
State Senator, La.
Her legislative initiatives have included pushing for education reform, including to reestablish local control over the state-managed New Orleans public schools. She’s also been an advocate for Medicaid expansion, and she unsuccessfully pushed for a tax increase on tobacco products to help fund health programs.
Along the way, Carter Peterson remained an active leader in Democratic party politics. In 2012, she ousted an incumbent to become the chairperson of the Louisiana Democratic Party -- the first woman, and only the second African-American individual, to hold that position. She’s still in that leadership position today. In 2017, Carter Peterson was elected vice chair of Civic Engagement and Voter Participation at the Democratic National Committee, a position previously held by Donna Brazile.