But she appeared unable to leave behind one piece of her long-past career as a left-of-center state legislator.
As she became U.S. secretary of health and human services, questions lingered about political ties to one of the few U.S. physicians performing late-term abortions.
Many Kansas elected officials are uneasy about Dr. George Tiller.
Sebelius had to detail past contributions from Tiller to U.S. senators and caused problems for herself by initially underreporting them.
Anti-abortion groups were the most vocal critic of her nomination. Photos of her at an April 2007 reception involving Tiller at the governor's residence are still circulating over the Internet.
The U.S. Senate approved her appointment as HHS secretary. But the questions about her ties to Tiller appeared to make her confirmation less smooth.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)