Last weekend, a decade after the Clinton Presidential Center first opened its doors on November 18, 2004, President Bill Clinton, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Chelsea Clinton hosted hundreds of friends, supporters, and alumni in Little Rock, Arkansas for “The Work Continues: Celebrating 10 Years of the Clinton Presidential Center,” a weekend-long series of events commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the Center and highlighting the work and impact of President Clinton’s lifetime of service.
The events honored the President’s commitment to empowering people all over the world to live their best life stories, which began during his time in office and has continued with his ongoing work at the Clinton Foundation. In case you missed some of the action, we’ve picked out some of our favorite highlights from the weekend.
Symposium on the Clinton Administration
The events kicked off on Friday with a Symposium on the Clinton Administration, in partnership with the Miller Center at the University of Virginia, which included three panel discussions featuring prominent former Administration officials on domestic policy, economic policy, and foreign policy. Panelists discussed both the challenges President Clinton faced and the many successes he achieved during his time in office. Ambassador Nancy Soderberg neatly summarized President Clinton’s desire to balance success at home and abroad: "After the Cold War …there was a huge move towards isolationism. The economy was very weak and nobody understood in the broader public why we couldn’t just put up the walls, come home and rebuild America. One of the toughest challenges President Clinton handled brilliantly was to explain why meeting these challenges had to involve U.S. leadership, or American prosperity would suffer." Watch the symposium panel here.
A No Ceilings Conversation
As part of the Celebration, Secretary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton hosted a No Ceilings Conversation, the tenth in the Clinton Foundation’s No Ceilings Conversations series. No Ceilings conversations highlight the importance of advancing women’s participation around the world. Secretary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton spoke with a variety of community leaders who shared solutions that have successfully increased girls’ and women’s participation on many different scales, from communities in Arkansas, to communities around the world. As Chelsea stated: “Cynicism is the great reserve of those who want to protect the status quo… but having points of optimism to draw on backed by rigorous data is… a potent and important antidote to cynicism.” Participants discussed a wide variety of topics including increasing girls’ and women’s access to education, healthcare, financial capital, and economic opportunity, and reducing maternal, infant, and child mortality. Additionally, the conversation included discussion about the role of technology in increasing the participation of women through such platforms as Facebook, which has 700 million female users.
Celebrate 10: A Community Concert
On Saturday, the Clinton Foundation hosted “Celebrate 10: A Community Concert,” a musical event that honored the spirit of the Arkansas community through an unforgettable night of storytelling and an inspirational call to serve. The event was free and open to the public, and attendees brought canned and shelf-stable boxed food in lieu of tickets. Held in partnership with the Arkansas Foodbank, the event encouraged everyone to give back by collecting food to feed Arkansas’s hungry through the holidays. Performers Nick Jonas, Amos Lee, Court Yard Hounds, and Kool & the Gang provided musical entertainment while Kevin Spacey served as the evening’s Master of Ceremonies.
Day of Action for Little Rock
On Sunday afternoon, more than 300 volunteers took part in a Clinton Foundation ‘Day of Action’, an opportunity for visitors and community members to make a small but impactful difference in people’s lives. The volunteers boxed approximately 80,000 pounds of sweet potatoes which had been donated by Mississippi farmers, and which will to be distributed by the Arkansas Food Bank to local agencies across 33 counties.
Economic Impact Panel
On Monday, the Clinton Foundation hosted a panel of experts who discussed both the economic and social impact of the Clinton Center for the Little Rock community. Statistics announced by the panelists demonstrate how the Center has enabled Little Rock to flourish: travel visitation to Pulaski County has increased by 33% on an annual basis since 2004, while the economic impact of the construction in the three zipcodes surrounding the Center amounts to $3.3 billion dollars. Dr Sadie Mitchell, Assistant Superintendent for the Little Rock School District, explained how the Center has also become a vibrant educational venue for teachers and students: “I cannot tell you how much this place means to teachers all over this state. We consider this Center to be a 30 acre classroom for our children, which offers all types of rigorous educational opportunities- it offers hands-on, tangible learning experiences which you could not get otherwise. This Center has helped us to embrace the challenges we face moving forwards.”