Virginia Hart


       About Virginia Hart


     Virginia Hart, Wisconsin's first woman cabinet member, served as Secretary of the Department of Regulation and Licensing, chairperson of the Department of Industry, Labor and Human Relations, and chairperson of the Labor and Industry Review Commission.

      Ms. Hart was a superb advocate for workers' rights from the very start of her career.  First as a social worker in Rochester, New York, later as a worker for the International Garment Workers Union in Tennessee during the 1940's.  When she moved to Wisconsin, she taught at the UW-Madison School for Workers while earning a master's degree in labor economics in 1947.

      In the 1960's, Ms. Hart helped set up the Community Welfare Council, which later became the Community Action Commission of Dane County. She served as its president from 1967-1969.

      She was appointed to two terms on the Police and Fire Commission where she worked to improve opportunities for women both in the Madison Fire Department and the Madison Police Department.

      She helped to form the Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin, was executive secretary of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, and more recently was involved in the Dudgeon—Monroe Neighborhood Association in Madison.

      Ms. Hart was a world traveler.  She and Henry Hart, her husband of 67 years, backpacked in the Rockies, the Andes, and the Himalayas.  She also worked as a labor education specialist at the University of Hawaii and for the Agency for International Development in New Delhi, India.

      Upon Virginia Hart's retirement from state service in 1983, friends and colleagues established a fund so that each year a woman in Wisconsin state service could be recognized for exemplary performance and contribution to the citizens of the state.  On March 24, 2007, Virginia Hart passed away at age 92.

      With the generous help of contributors, the fund has been able to sustain the program for 30 years.  With continued support, we hope to create an endowment to keep the Virginia Hart special recognition award alive for many years to come. 

      The recognition award is administered by the DOA-Division of Personnel Management.