Anita McBride, former chief of staff to First Lady Laura Bush and now an executive in residence at American University, kicked-off the The Legacies of America’s First Ladies conference on Monday to celebrate and examine the role of the nation’s first ladies. The day long gathering began with a letter from the current First Lady, Michelle Obama in which she said
It is my honor to serve our nation as First Lady and have the opportunity to touch so many lives. Throughout the course of our history, the accomplished women who have come before me have helped to shape our national character and strengthen our country. Their stories are a fascinating part of our narrative and their commitment to service represents what is best about the American spirit. Each day, I am inspired by their countless contributions and it is a privilege to join their company. I wish you all the best for an enjoyable conference.
McBride, who organized the conference with the American University’s School of Public Affairs , also read a job description written by John Heubusch, president of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, listing the extensive requirements expected of a first lady which include the willingness to relocate to Washington, DC; demonstrated perfection as a human being; and superhuman multi-tasking.
Watch below to hear the full description and ask yourself: forty-six women have filled this important role – would you apply for this job?
Susan Sher, former chief of staff to Michelle Obama, marking her first appearance since leaving the White House, and Melanne Verveer, former chief of staff to Hillary Rodham Clinton, now Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues joined McBride on a panel for a bi-partisan look inside 1600 Pennsylvania Ave the role of the modern First Lady.
Other featured panel discussions included insights on first ladies throughout history and behind-the-scenes moments at the White House. Gahl Hodges Burt, Social Secretary to President and Mrs. Reagan recalled a particular moment when close Reagan friend Charlton Heston came to visit. Heston wandered onto the White House lawn while the fife and drum corps marched during an official ceremony. Burt had no choice but to alert secret service over a loud walkie-talkie to ask that Heston be moved. A clever secret service agent replied: “nobody moves Moses.”
Participants included, among others, Presidential Historian Richard Norton Smith; Jean Becker, Deputy Press Secretary to First Lady Barbara Bush; Kathryn Cade, Director of Projects for First Lady Rosalynn Carter; Ann Compton, White House Correspondent for ABC News; Ann Gerhard, Deputy Outlook Editor for the Washington Post; Lois Romano, National Political Correspondent for the Washington Post; and Steve Scully of C-SPAN.
In addition to the conference, McBride is also spearheading the creation of the First Ladies Foundation to cultivate the first non-partisan history on the impact these women have made. CLICK here for more information.