Anita is often asked what her job entails as Executive in Residence in the School of Public Affairs at American University, especially when she’s not planning conferences for the American University First Ladies Initiative. Read below to find out what a typical day in the life of an American University Executive in Residence entails:
On February 12, the day started off at the office, checking emails and making sure we have our files and power points ready for a full day of presentations and events ahead!
We took the metro downtown to the National Press Club, where Anita spoke at the American Women Writer’s National Museum’s 2nd Anniversary event. The topic was First Ladies and the Press. She joined with Patricia Krider, the Executive Director of the National First Ladies Library in Canton, OH to discuss how first ladies handled the media. The audience asked many questions after the two presentations and we all learned new and interesting facts about first ladies through history. For example, did you know that Nellie Taft was afraid the press would find out she played poker and drank alcohol? She was first lady during prohibition time and held parties with alcohol at the White House! Did you know that Laura Bush made 24 trips to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina? Not many people do! The media affects a first lady’s legacy in part based on the way they cover – or don’t cover – her activities.
After the event at the National Press Club, Anita gave a guest lecture in AU Professor Richard Benedetto’s “Politics of Mass Communication” class. Each year Professor Benedetto invites her to come in and talk to his students about first ladies and the press. Anita talked about examples of domestic and global activities first ladies have engaged in, how they were covered by the media, their approval ratings, their relationships with the press, and how the possibility of a woman president would change the role of the first spouse. The students had great questions and Anita looks forward to speaking to the class next semester.
Immediately following the guest lecture, Anita had a meeting with students interested in joining the US/Afghan Women’s Council Student Fellows program at American University. Anita is the faculty advisor for this student organization which provided students with an opportunity to get involved and raise awareness on campus about US/Afghan relations and issues dealing specifically with women. The students are planning on holding events on campus to help people understand how far Afghan women have come since the fall of the Taliban and how fragile their gains are in this time of the withdrawal of US forces. They will also get involved in research projects with the Council.
Finally, Anita attended the 2014 DC Democratic Primary Mayoral Debate hosted by the Kennedy Political Union at AU. KPU is a dynamic organization with great leadership and since arriving at AU in 2010, Anita has worked with KPU to help secure speakers and collaborate on events. The mayoral debate was interesting and a was great way to showcase the enthusiastic interest of AU students in public policy and our elected leaders at all levels of government. American University is the only university that was chosen to host one of the primary debates.
All in all, it was a busy day! Each day is different, but they are all packed full of fun and interesting activities that we connect to the First Ladies Initiative at AU.