Jun 24
June 24, 2016

Donna's Top 12 Moments as President of the Clinton Foundation


This month, Donna Shalala celebrates one year as president of the Clinton Foundation. We asked her to take us back on a photo journey of some of her most memorable moments. 

1)  Getting My Start at CGI U 2015    

What a welcoming. My role as CEO of the Foundation was officially announced at the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) meeting on my home turf at the University of Miami, and it couldn’t have been a better onboarding for what was to come. Diversity, partnerships, and students who were making commitments to turn ideas into action on issues of climate change, gender-based violence, and health and wellness —this meeting is just one example of what makes our work unlike any other. Check out more highlights from the 2015 CGI U meeting. 

2)  Presidential Learnings for Current and Future Leaders

The lessons that can be learned across four presidential administrations provide invaluable knowledge that can’t be beat. I’m so grateful that the presidential centers of George W. Bush, William J. Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Lyndon B. Johnson came together to create the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program. This executive-style education series is helping promising scholars strengthen their leadership skills and, in turn, our shared future. It was a privilege to speak at the graduation of the inaugural class in 2015 — especially as we ramp up for the next class of graduates this July. 

3)  Partners in Haiti’s Future    

Haiti has always been a special place to the Clintons — and to me. I was thrilled to join Chelsea and Clinton Foundation staff and supporters in visiting some of our projects there and seeing how our work is having a real and sustainable impact. For example, we visited Papillon Enterprise, a Haitian-based, ecologically-conscious business that provides employment opportunities and skills training for artisans in Port-au-Prince. Support and technical assistance from our Clinton Foundation Haiti team enabled them to expand their business by providing capacity building to its artisan employees, hiring new staff, and procuring new materials and equipment such as kilns. Read my daily recaps from the trip here and here

4)  #Commit2Ten at the Office

Here at the Clinton Foundation, we don’t just talk the talk. We walk the walk. When the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (Alliance) celebrated its 10-year anniversary and launched its #Commit2Ten campaign to encourage people to be more active, Clinton Foundation staff were sure to take part in various ways, including a yoga break in the office. Another part of the Alliance’s 10-year anniversary was the expansion of their Healthy Schools Program into 5,000 more schools, bringing the total to more than 31,000. This will help create healthier environments for many more students across the country. Now that’s how to celebrate a birthday. 

5)  Discussing What Works for Women in Tech

More women than men earn undergraduate degrees in the United States, yet they remain underrepresented in critical areas such as computer science and the technology sector. To shine a light on this issue, No Ceilings and the Clinton Health Matters Initiative teamed up with SELF Magazine to host a no-holds-barred panel discussion on what works and what doesn’t for women leaders in technology. Some of my favorite takeaways from the event was that the gap isn’t related to knowledge, but rather to a lack of imagination and guts; and that men are important allies for whom we need to make being uncomfortable comfortable. Read more about this great event. 

6)  President Bill Clinton Behind-the-Scenes

Almost everyone has seen footage of President Bill Clinton at a podium giving an impassioned speech. He’s eloquent and moving, but that’s nothing compared to the Bill Clinton you’ll see behind-the-scenes interacting with the people he’s devoted his life to helping: people like Edgar who have tremendous potential, but limited opportunity. With the help of the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, Edgar, pictured here with President Clinton, was able to more than triple his income and employ others in his community. Learn more about Edgar's story and how CGEP’s supply chain enterprise empowers smallholder farmers.  

7)  My Favorite Message: Health Matters

If there’s one thing I learned in my eight years as Secretary for Health and Human Services, it’s that we’ve got to work together – business, government, nonprofits, philanthropy, and even World Champion soccer stars – to improve the health, well-being, and future of the communities we live in. Chatting with U.S. women’s soccer star Abby Wambach on the Health Matters stage about girls’ access to sports was fun and informative. Learn more about the 2016 Health Matters Summit

8)  Boosting Home Ownership in Detroit 

Photo credit: Ian Freimuth

The Detroit Home Mortgage initiative epitomizes just how the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) has leveraged the power of partnerships to change lives and transform communities. Through CGI’s collaborative model, nearly 20 partners from across sectors, including government leaders, local banks, the real estate industry, and nonprofit groups, came together to make home buying easier in Detroit. This important effort will help more people reach their goal of being a homeowner by qualifying borrowers for a second mortgage to cover renovations, while helping Detroit recover from the 25 percent population decrease it has experienced since 2010. Learn more about the Detroit Home Mortgage Initiative

9)  Supporting Women in Island Energy

Girls and women are often disproportionately affected by climate change, but too often lack a seat at the table when it comes to implementing the solutions that will help slow the effects. Our Clinton Climate Initiative is helping women in the energy sector overcome barriers so that more women get the opportunities they deserve, and so more progress can be made in the fight against climate change. 

10)  Health Clinic Opens in Malawi    

The Clinton Development Initiative (CDI) works to empower smallholder farmers so they can grow more crops and earn more money from their harvests. In Malawi, where CDI began its work, their strong ties to the communities led them to equally important work: supporting the creation of a health clinic in partnership with the Government of Malawi so that farmers and their families can access the basic health services they need. This clinic opening represents the holistic approach that we try to take with all of our work. 

11)  Talking, Reading, and Singing in Miami and Beyond

They say children who grow up in bilingual households develop more flexible approaches to thinking through problems. That’s something we value at the Clinton Foundation and we believe you can never start too early. By meeting parents where they are to encourage more talking, reading, and singing – in any language – with their babies, Too Small to Fail worked with the Coin Laundry Association to create a CGI America Commitment to Action entitled “Wash Time is Talk Time: Early Literacy Promotion in Laundromats” to help kids and families from underserved communities succeed. This campaign was announced at the 2015 CGI America meeting. 

12)  Continuing the Momentum, Together 

And, just last week, we held our sixth annual CGI America meeting – bringing together leaders in business, nonprofits, government and philanthropy to create Commitments to Action that aim to strengthen our economy and improve opportunity across the country. I was particularly inspired by the conversation between President Clinton and President Carter — watch it here. This recent convening and everything we do year-round to catalyze and put great ideas into action is a reminder that when we’re in this together, no challenge is too daunting to tackle.

These are just some of the moments from my first year at the Clinton Foundation that speak to the heart and soul of what we do: putting people first and building partnerships to expand opportunity and make the world a better place.