Dilma Rousseff

Currently serving as the 36th President of Brazil, Dilma Vana Rousseff is a Brazilian economist and politician. As the first woman to hold the office, she was previously the Chief of Staff of President Inácio Lula da Silva from 2005 to 2010.

Growing up in an upper-middle class household, Rousseff’s mother was a teacher and her father was a lawyer who immigrated to Brazil from Bulgaria, where he had been a member of the Communist party in the 1920’s. He was a successful businessman.

Rousseff was involved in militant socialist politics with the man who became her second husband and partner for the rest of her career, Carlos Araújo. Because she fought the underground battle against the ruling military dictatorship, she landed herself in prison in 1970, where she spent almost three years tortured with electric shocks. After she was released, she finished her studies in local politics and as a member of the Democratic Labor Party.

Over the next two decades, Rousseff became a party consultant and able administrator with a specialty in energy concerns. In 2002, Luis “Lula” de Silva campaigned for presidency and acknowledged Rousseff as a top consultant. She was named after his cabinet as Minister of Energy after his election. Her success eventually led her to run as Lula’s successor in 2010.