Miller Center

John Bryson (2011-2012) - Secretary of Commerce

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John Bryson was born in New York, New York, in 1943. He grew up in Portland, Oregon, before graduating from Stanford University and Yale Law School. After leaving law school, Bryson cofounded the National Resources Defense Council in 1970. He served as an attorney for the nonprofit organization focused on environment issues. He then worked for the California Public Utilities Commission and the California State Water Resources. For eighteen years, he was chairman and chief executive officer of Edison International, an energy company. He also served on the boards for The Boeing Corporation and the Walt Disney Company. President Barack Obama nominated Bryson as secretary of Commerce, and Bryson was sworn in on October 21, 2011. As secretary, he served as a liaison between the business community and the Obama administration. Bryson worked to accelerate job creation, strengthen the U.S. economy, and help make U.S. firms more competitive and successful. He also focused on improving and supporting U.S. manufacturing and promoted alternative energy.

In June 2012, Bryson was involved in a series of car accidents that resulted from a seizure. Due to his health problems, he resigned from his post as secretary of Commerce the same month. Rebecca Blank, deputy secretary of Commerce, took over as acting secretary after Bryson's resignation.

Citation Information

Consulting Editor

Michael Nelson

Professor Nelson is the Fulmer Professor Political Science at Rhodes College, a senior fellow of the Miller Center, and the senior contributing editor and book editor of the Cook Political Report. He is the author of multiple books on American politics and government, including:

Resilient America: Electing Nixon in 1968, Channeling Dissent, and Dividing Government (University Press of Kansas), which won the American Political Science Association’s Richard E. Neustadt Award for Best Book on the Presidency published in 2014

How the South Joined the Gambling Nation: The Politics of State Policy Innovation (LSU Press), which won the Southern Political Science Association’s V.O. Key Award for Outstanding Book on Southern Politics published in 2006