Dianne Feinstein was born in San Francisco in 1933 and graduated from Stanford University in 1955.
After serving as a San Francisco County supervisor, Feinstein became the city’s mayor in 1978 in the wake of the assassination of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician from California to be elected to office.
Feinstein rarely talked about the day when Moscone and Milk were shot, but she opened up about the tragic events in a 2017 interview with CNN’s Dana Bash.
Feinstein was on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors at the time, and assassin Dan White had been a friend and colleague of hers.
“The door to the office opened, and he came in, and I said, ‘Dan?’” Feinstein recalled. “I heard the doors slam, I heard the shots, I smelled the cordite.”
It was Feinstein who announced the double assassination to the public. She was later sworn in as the first female mayor of San Francisco.
Feinstein’s pioneering career: By the time she became mayor in 1978, Feinstein had already broken one glass ceiling, becoming the first female chair of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
California’s first woman sent to the US Senate racked up many other firsts in Washington. Among those: She was the first woman to sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the first female chairwoman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, and the first female chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Feinstein also served on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee and held the title of ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee from 2017 to 2021.
In November 2022, she was poised to become president pro tempore of the Senate — third in line to the presidency — but declined to pursue the position, citing her husband’s recent death.
Feinstein reflected on her experience as a woman in politics in her 2017 interview with Bash, saying, “Look, being a woman in our society even today is difficult,” and noting, “I know it in the political area.”
The week she became the longest-serving woman in US history, Feinstein wrote in a statement that, “We went from two women senators when I ran for office in 1992 to 24 today — and I know that number will keep climbing.”
“It has been a great pleasure to watch more and more women walk the halls of the Senate,” Feinstein said in November 2022.
CNN’s Lauren Fox, Haley Talbot, Manu Raju and Shania Shelton contributed to this report.