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Hillary Diane Rodham was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 26, 1947. The daughter of Dorothy Rodham and the late Hugh Rodham, she and her two younger brothers, Hugh and Tony, grew up in Park Ridge, Illinois, as part of a close-knit family. Here, she is pictured with her father Hugh, her mother Dorothy, and brother Hugh, Jr. Throughout her childhood, the foundations of her lasting commitment to family, work, and service were established. It is this commitment and the belief that we "all have an obligation to give something of ourselves to our community," that has helped to shape her role and actions as our nation's First Lady.
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As a young student, Hillary organized food drives, served in student government, and was a member of the National Honor Society. She was a member of the local Methodist youth group, and was also a Girl Scout. As First Lady, she currently serves as honorary President of the Girls Scouts of America. Here, the First Lady is joined by girls from a local Girl Scout chapter as she tapes a public service announcement for the Girl Scouts.
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After graduating from Wellesley College in 1969, Hillary enrolled in Yale Law School, where she developed her strong concern for protecting the interests of children and families, and met Bill Clinton, a fellow law student. Hillary married Bill Clinton in 1975. Their daughter, Chelsea, was born in 1980. During the twelve years that she served as First Lady of Arkansas, Hillary founded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, introduced Arkansas' Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youth, and worked tirelessly on behalf of children and families, while practicing law in Little Rock. In recognition of her professional and personal accomplishments, she was named Arkansas Woman of the Year in 1984.
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Upon taking office in 1993, President Clinton made health care reform one of the highest priorities of his Administration. He asked the First Lady to chair the Task Force on National Health Care Reform, and she continues to be a leading advocate for improving health care quality and providing health insurance for the uninsured and the underinsured. Her deep commitment to children has led the First Lady to champion an ambitious effort to increase immunizations for preschool-age children, push for an expansion of children's health insurance coverage, advocate for innovative prenatal care, and raise awareness of the impact of tobacco on children.
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When the Clintons arrived in Washington, D.C., Mrs. Clinton felt that she had not only public responsibilities as First Lady, but also the important private responsibility to make the historic, and formal, White House a true home for her husband and daughter Chelsea. For example, because the private living quarters did not have an informal place to gather for meals, she decided to have the serving kitchen on the second floor converted into a family kitchen. There, the three of them could gather around the table just as they had in Arkansas.
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In 1996, the First Lady authored "It Takes a Village and Other Lessons Children Teach Us", a national call for all sectors of society to take responsibility for our children. In her book, the First Lady emphasizes that while parents are the most important influence in their children's lives, and have the primary responsibility in raising them, society also plays an important role in rearing our nation's children. She stresses that ultimately children will thrive only if all of society provides for them. In addition, since 1995, the First Lady has penned a weekly syndicated newspaper column, "Talking It Over". In this column, she draws upon her experiences as First Lady and on her observations of women, children, and families she has met across the country and around the world. Here, the First Lady reads to children in Maryland to celebrate Read Across American Day.
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In 1997, the First Lady, along with the President, hosted two important conferences on children's issues. The First Lady played a strong role at the White House Conference on Early Childhood Development and Learning, where experts emphasized that the success a child has in reaching their full potential is influenced by what they experience during their critical early years. The White House Conference on Child Care drew attention to the struggle our nation's working parents face in finding child care they can afford, trust and rely on. This conference played an important role in developing the President's historic child care initiative - - the largest investment in child care in our nation's history - - to make child care better, safer, and more affordable for America's working families. Here, children at a child care facility at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut show the First Lady their latest project.
The First Lady has also worked tirelessly to reform our nation's foster care system and promote adoption. Through meetings with adoptive families and children in foster care, writings and speeches, the First Lady has focused on making it easier for children to move from foster care to permanent homes, and on increasing the number of adoptions. The First Lady played an important role in legislative reform, and was central to the passage of the Adoption and Safe Family Act of 1997.
In addition to her work at home, the First Lady serves as a goodwill ambassador for the United States during her visits abroad. From Europe to Asia, Africa to Latin America, the First Lady takes her message of human rights, health care, and economic empowerment for women across the globe. During her trips, the First Lady has advocated for human rights, promoted microcredit as a means to economic self-sufficiency, pushed for equality in education for girls and boys, and spoken of the importance of health care with an emphasis on meeting the critical needs of women and children, including family planning and safe motherhood. She has also been a leading voice for democracy building, for women's rights, and for the developing of a voluntary sector in emerging democracies. Here Mrs. Clinton visits with a young student of the Ait Ameur School in the Berber Village of Morocco. USAID and the Morocco Ministry of Education established the school to focus on innovative ways to improve rural education, especially for girls.
One of Mrs. Clinton's responsibilities as First Lady is to oversee the White House special events including the annual Easter Egg Roll. The Egg Roll is for children aged 3-6 and is held each year on the South Lawn. This year's activities included readings by popular children's author J.K. Rowling and an appearance by Justin Timberlake of *NSYNC. Here, a group of children sit in an Easter nest during the festivities.
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The holiday season is another popular time at the White House. Every Christmas, the official White House Tree in the Blue Room is a favorite for all visitors. During the 1999 holidays, the President and Mrs. Clinton chose Treasures at the White House as the theme. Early American craftsmen designed and created ornaments replicating objects and scenes from history, dollmakers honored our forefathers and contemporary heroes with dolls made in their images and tinsmiths hand-forged ornaments indicative of the holiday trade. Many of the treasures displayed throughout the White House this past season were projects of the Save America’s Treasures program, a public private partnership initiated by Mrs. Clinton between the White House Millennium Council and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, to identify and rescue enduring symbols of our heritage. The program’s contributions this year included models of the Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn, New York and the Preston Farm in Fort Collins, Colorado. Another cherished part of White House holiday tradition is the annual reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Here the President and First Lady read to students from local public schools.
The First Lady loves art, and she has said that sculpture is one of her favorite art forms. In fact, her first date with President Clinton was in the sculpture garden at Yale University. As First Lady, Mrs. Clinton has worked with the Committee for the Preservation of the White House and the White House Historical Association to bring exhibits of contemporary American sculpture to the White House. In establishing these exhibits, the First Lady wanted to showcase the best of American sculpture, in America’s home, making it accessible to the thousands of people who visit the White House every day.
The current installation in the series, “Twentieth Century American Sculpture at the White House,” is subtitled “The View from Denver.” This exhibit features a diverse group of twelve works from public collections in Denver, Colorado. To the left is Robert Mangold's "Windsong III," one of the twelve pieces currently on display.
Like her predecessors, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton brings to the role of First Lady of the United States her own special talents, experience, and interests.
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