Michael Stephen Steele (born October 19, 1958) is an American political figure, currently serving as the chairman of the Republican National Committee. He is the first African American to chair the Republican National Committee and the second to chair either major U.S. party's National Committee after Ron Brown, who chaired the Democratic National Committee. Steele was also the first African American to serve in a state-wide office in Maryland, as the Lieutenant Governor of Maryland from 2003 to 2007, where he chaired the Minority Business Enterprise taskforce and actively sought expanded affirmative action policies in the corporate world. He was the first Republican elected to the office.
From 2003 to 2005, Steele and Lt. Gov. Jennette Bradley of Ohio were the highest-ranking elected black Republicans in the United States. Steele held this distinction solo from 2005 to 2007 after Bradley resigned to become Ohio State Treasurer. Steele ran for a Maryland United States Senate seat being vacated by retiring senator Paul Sarbanes, but he lost the 2006 election to Democratic Congressman Ben Cardin. Steele then served as chairman of GOPAC and worked as a partner at the law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf. Steele cofounded the "fiscally conservative and socially inclusive" Republican Leadership Council in 1993 but left in 2008.