Gary Locke

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Gary Locke was the first American of Chinese descent to act as the U.S. ambassador to China. He also served as Secretary of Commerce between 2009 and 2011.

Born on Jan. 21, 1950 in Seattle,  Locke is the son of immigrants from Hong Kong, and traces his ancestry to southern Guangdong province.

Locke spent his first six years in Seattle's Yesler Terrace, a public housing project for families of World War II veterans. 

His grandfather, from southern China's Guangdong province, first came to America to work as a houseboy in a Washington state home in exchange for English lessons. His father, who also was born in China and moved to the United States as a teenager, died in January this year.

Locke worked in his father's grocery store, and graduated with honors from Seattle's Franklin High School in 1968. Through a combination of part-time jobs, financial aid and scholarships, Locke attended Yale University, earning a bachelor's degree in political science in 1972.

After receiving his law degree from Boston University in 1975, he worked for several years as a deputy prosecutor in King County of the Washington state, prosecuting felony crimes.

In 1982, Locke was elected to the Washington State House of Representatives, where he served on the House Judiciary and Appropriations committees, with his final five years there spent as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Locke served as chief executive of King County in 1993.

Locke and his wife, Mona Lee Locke, a former reporter for the NBC affiliate KING 5 television in Seattle, were married in October 1994. The Lockes have three children -- Emily, born in March 1997, Dylan, born in March 1999, and Madeline, born in November 2004.

He was elected Washington state governor in November 1996, making him the first Chinese-American governor in U.S. history. In November 2000, Locke, a Democrat, was re-elected governor of Washington.

After leaving office in 2005, Locke joined the Seattle office of the international law firm Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, where he co-chaired the firm's China practice and was active in its governmental relations practice.

President Obama nominated Locke as commerce secretary in February 2009, and he was sworn in on May 1, 2009.

On August 1, 2011, he was appointed as U.S. Ambassador to China.

On November 20, 2013, Locke said that he will step down from his position early next year to rejoin his family.