As we celebrate our nation’s independence and remember those who have worked tirelessly to serve and protect the freedom that comes with democracy, one often overlooked role is that of First Lady. This unpaid, unsanctioned role is defined largely by the person who holds the title. It conveys significant power and often sets a complementary tone for a presidential administration’s broader policy goals and objectives.
Anita McBride is former Chief of Staff to First Lady Laura Bush (2005 to 2009) and currently Executive in Residence at American University, where she directs programming and national conferences on the legacies of America’s first ladies and their historical influence on politics, policy and global diplomacy. She served in three presidential administrations, and is an expert on the topic of First Ladies and why their power and impact matter. We talked to Anita about the power, impact and evolving nature of the First Lady’s role, as well as about her own career journey.
Anita’s own path, while not always linear, has been one of impact. She tells us how she, an aspiring doctor and the daughter of Italian immigrants, made it from Bridgeport, Connecticut to the White House by way of a student exchange trip abroad that sparked her patriotic passions and a career dedicated to service. Her story is inspiring, her perspective enlightening, and her ability to channel her fear is one of several secrets to her success.