Ellen Sauerbrey (born September 9, 1937, in Baltimore) is an American politician from Maryland and the head of the United States Department of State's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. She was nominated to the Bureau in September 2005 by President George W. Bush. On January 4, 2006, Bush placed her in office by way of a recess appointment, bypassing the need for Senate confirmation. Her confirmation was unlikely, given strong objections by some senators. Sauerbrey's lack of refugee and managerial experience caused some activists and numerous congressmen to liken her appointment to that of Michael D. Brown.
Sauerbrey is a 1955 graduate of Towson High School and a 1959 graduate of Western Maryland College, and was a teacher before entering politics. From 1978 to 1994, she was a Republican member of the Maryland House of Delegates, and served as minority leader from 1986 to 1994. Her Committee assignments included the Appropriations Committee; Subcommittee on Education and Transportation; Ways and Means and Economic Matters.
Sauerbrey ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Maryland twice, in 1994 and 1998. She was defeated by Democrat Parris Glendening both times, the first time by a very narrow margin. The 1994 election was in doubt as charges of voter fraud led to a lawsuit by the Sauerbrey campaign to overturn the election, which was ultimately unsuccessful.
In 2002, President Bush nominated Sauerbrey to be Representative to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador. In that post, Sauerbrey focused mostly on three issues: the need for more education for women, the importance of empowering women economically and politically, and protection of the right to life.
In January 2006, while the Senate was recessed, President Bush appointed Sauerbrey as assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration. It was reported then that this and other such appointments would end at the conclusion of the congressional session in January 2007.
In a January 15, 2007 hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democratic lawmakers and advocates for refugees called for increased help for fleeing Iraqis. Sauerbrey said a UN-predicted wave of refugees did not occur right after the US-led invasion of Iraq and was occurring at that present time.