Born and raised in Chicago, Sen. Emilie F. Miller found politics to be like a sport. She first became interested in her field because of her uncles, who ran a barbershop that politicians frequented. They would always talk about the political climate in the city and the different policies they were or wanted to enact. Ms. Miller was also inspired by her neighbor, who had a polling station in her basement, and by the representatives who stood outside to greet voters. She began to think about all the good she could do with a little bit of power.
Instead of going straight into politics, however, Ms. Miller decided to first focus on her interest in business. She thus obtained a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Drake University in 1958, after which she garnered experience as an assistant buyer at Jordan Marsh Co., Woodward & Lothrop, and Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. When she and her husband, whom she met through the Young Democrats organization at school, decided to have kids, however, she stepped down to care for them. It was at this point that Ms. Miller began to feel a renewed interest in politics. She was looking for ways she could get involved with her community while being a stay-at-home mom, and this seemed like the perfect fit.
Ms. Miller’s first position in the field was charter member of the Presidential Inaugural Committee in 1977. She then became a state labor coordinator for the Robb Davis Daliles Joint Campaign, a legislative aide for Senator Adelard Brandt, the financial director for Saslaw for Congress, and a legislative consultant for the Virginia Federation of Business Professional Women. In 1988, Ms. Miller decided to run for office herself. She was elected senator of the Virginia General Assembly that same year. Her first order of business was making life better for women. She introduced a bill to allow women at the Virginia Military Institute, which passed, and she began reaching out to get other women involved with the field. Ms. Miller and a colleague, Linda Rob, set up a series of brunches called “Good Ol’ Girls” to get women interested in running for office together for support and advice. Ms. Miller was notably the first woman in northern Virginia elected to the Senate. Other causes she was passionate about were mental health and substance abuse. Her term ended in 1992.
When Ms. Miller stepped down from local government, she became involved in her community in other ways. She was appointed to the board of directors of both the Innovative Technology Authority and the Center for Innovative Technology by Gov. Wilder from 1992 to 1994, and she was a speaker at the International Women’s Conference in Russia in 1995. She has also been the senior manager of Thompson, Cobb, Bazilio & Associates and a board member of the Committee of 100, among various other positions.
As a testament to her hard work and dedication, Ms. Miller earned a number of accolades over the years. She was notably the recipient of the Pacesetter Award from the award Southern Women in Public Leadership Conference, the Community Service Award from the Psychology Society of Washington, the Service Award from the Virginia Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, and the Warren Stambaugh Award from the Mental Health Association of Northern Virginia. She was also honored with the Founders Award from the Fairfax County Council of Arts, the Community Service Award from the Friends of Victims Assistance Network, the Woman of Achievement Award from the Fairfax Board Supervisors and Fairfax County Commission for Women, and the Distinguished Graduate Award for Junior Achievement.
In her free time, Ms. Miller enjoys hobbies like tennis, art, and baseball.