She used to avoid the spotlight, but with her new high-profile role in President Obama's 2nd inauguration, Chelsea …Chelsea Clinton is returning to Washington—this time in a leadership role. The former first daughter has been named the Honorary Chair of the 2013 National Day of Service and will headline a summit on the National Mall on Saturday to launch President Barack Obama's second inauguration.
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"There is no more fitting way to mark a presidential inauguration than a day of service," Clinton said in a statement sent to Yahoo! Shine. "Coming together as a country to strengthen our communities has always been part of the American spirit. I am deeply grateful that President Obama and his administration have put service at the center of the Inauguration weekend and I am proud to be part of a nation-wide service effort, honoring the service and legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and building a brighter future for all of us."
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The high-profile role is a good fit for Clinton, who retreated from view after spending her childhood growing up in the public eye—she was born while her father, Bill Clinton, was governor of Arkansas, and when she left the White House to go to Stanford University in 1997, she was trailed by Secret Service members and 250 journalists—but recently seems to be embracing the political spotlight.
"Historically I deliberately tried to live a private life in the public eye," she told Vogue magazine in August. "And now I am trying to lead a purposefully public life."
Now 32, married, and living in New York City, the former first daughter has been honing her public persona as a special correspondent for NBC News. (Before that, she also spent a few years on Wall Street, working for a hedge fund, and three years with the consulting firm McKinsey & Company.) She campaigned on behalf of her mother, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in 2008, moderated a panel last spring about the challenges facing women in elected office, and last fall went to Nigeria as a representative of her father's charitable foundation, Clinton Health Access Initiative. When her mother was hospitalized with a concussion recently, Chelsea Clinton acted as the family spokesperson.
In November, she attended the Glamour Women of the Year awards in New York, where she spoke about the political records set and gains made by women in the last election. She is on the board of both the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative, and recently said that she might (eventually) consider running for public office.
"Before my mom's [presidential] campaign, I would have said no," she told Vogue magazine in August. "And now I don't know… if there were to be a point where it was something I felt called to do and I didn't think there was someone who was sufficiently committed to building a healthier, more just, more equitable, more productive world? Then that would be a question I'd have to ask and answer."
Politics aside, community service has always played a major part in her life, Clinton said.
"When I was growing up, my parents and grandparents taught me that engaging in service, helping our neighbors and building strong communities are all part of being a good citizen and a good person," Clinton wrote in an essay for CNN on Tuesday. "When we moved to Washington, service remained an important part of my life. In high school, I helped head the service club, and in college, I volunteered as an America Reads tutor and in the art therapy room at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in California. I loved talking to my grandmothers about my volunteer work, and I agreed with them: I received more than I could ever possibly give."
Saturday's event will have seven themes of service: community resilience, economic development, education, environment, faith, health, and veterans and military families. Nearly 100 service organizations will be on hand, and Clinton won't be the only big name on the program: Iraq War veteran and Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, Actress Eva Longoria, singer-songwriter Ben Folds, TV personality Star Jones, actress Angela Bassett, gospel singer Yolanda Adams, and Iraq War veteran and U.S. Representative Tammy Duckworth will also speak to the crowd. (The public can sign up to participate at the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee Website.)
"Nineteen years ago, my father proudly signed the bill making Martin Luther King Day a time dedicated to serving others," Clinton told CNN. "As we think about the future of our communities and our country, we each have the ability and the responsibility to participate."
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