GUESTS SEATED IN THE FIRST LADY'S GALLERY
January 27, 2000
First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton will be joined this evening, January 27, 2000, for President Clinton's State of the Union address by ten citizens who through their public activities are making an impact in their communities. The people chosen to sit with Mrs. Clinton represent the vast progress and promise of America at the beginning of a new millennium. They range from an activist parent to a student who participated in the AmeriCorps program to an Air Force captain decorated for his heroic service in Serbia. The following people make up the list of guests in the First Lady's Gallery:
Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of
Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., is a physician-geneticist and the Director of the National Human Genome
Research Institute. In that role he oversees the government's fifteen-year project aimed at mapping and
sequencing all of the human DNA by the year 2003. Many consider this the most important scientific
undertaking of our time. The project is currently running ahead of schedule and under budget.
Beaufort Elementary School serves a predominantly low-income population of 573 students in grades Pre-K
through 5. Five years ago the school was classified as one of the worst 200 schools in South Carolina.
After implementing a five-year school improvement plan Beaufort Elementary was named a 1999 Blue Ribbon
School by the U.S. Department of Education. Last year, student performance at Beaufort Elementary exceeded
district and state averages in both reading and math. Beaufort has after-school and summer school programs
for remediation in reading and math. The school has also redesigned its daily calendar and lengthened its
school year to 200 days. The school receives Title I funding, and their district received Goals 2000
funding. As part of a statewide effort, the school district is reducing class sizes in the early grades, and
with state funding Beaufort Elementary has reduced class size in grades 1-3 from an average of 25 to 1 to an
average of 18 to 1. Beaufort was previously a 100% free and reduced lunch school, but with the recent
improvements it is now attracting students from private academies and other suburban schools. Ruth Summerlin
has been the principal at Beaufort for seven years, and was instrumental in the school turn-around.
Tom Mauser is the father of Columbine High School victim Daniel Mauser. Since the Columbine tragedy, Mauser
has become an outspoken advocate for reasonable gun-control legislation. He made his first public appearance
in support of stronger gun laws just 10 days after the Columbine incident, and also joined the First Lady at
the White House on Mother's Day last year for an event on gun violence and young people. This month he
announced that he was taking a one year leave of absence from his job at the Colorado Department of
Transportation to work full-time for gun-control legislation as the Director of Political Affairs for
SAFE Colorado (Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic).
Robert (Bob) Knowling Jr.
Bob Knowling is the CEO of Covad Communications, the nation's leading provider of "DSL" - an advanced
telecommunications service critical to providing high-speed Internet access to homes and businesses. He has
seen firsthand both the problem of finding skilled Information Technology (IT) workers and the troubling
scarcity of African-American and other minority men and women in the IT workforce. As chairman of the
Information Technology Association of America's Industry Committee, Knowling has been spearheading an effort
to diversify the IT workforce through comprehensive internship programs, a broad-based business commitment
from the employer community, and targeted education and outreach.
Lloyd Bentsen (Seated on House Floor)
Lloyd Bentsen served as Secretary of the Treasury for the first two years of the Clinton Administration. In
1993, the President asked Sec. Bentsen to lead the effort to pass the deficit reduction plan that passed
Congress by just one vote and paved the way for what is now the longest peacetime economic expansion in our
history. This remarkable accomplishment builds upon a lifetime of achievement. A Texas farmhand by the age
of six, a bomber pilot by 21, a Congressman by 27, an immensely successful businessman by 35, Lloyd Bentsen
saw and did more in his youth than most see and do in an entire lifetime. He then served as a distinguished
United States Senator from Texas. He rose to become Chairman of the Finance Committee, where he demonstrated
his lifetime concern for the interest of business and labor and the poor, and his conviction that America
should advance all these together.
Captain John Cherrey
Captain John Cherrey has distinguished himself throughout his ten-year Air Force career. Most recently,
Captain Cherrey was awarded the Silver Star (the highest Armed Forces medal awarded in Kosovo operations)
for his courageous action in rescuing a fellow pilot shot down over hostile Serbian territory. As a part of
Operation Allied Force in Kosovo, Captain Cherrey was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for leading a
Forward Air Control mission that destroyed two VJ/MUP tank convoys.
Christina Jones, a Navajo of the Kin Yaa'aanii clan, joined AmeriCorps three years ago to serve her community
of Round Rock, Arizona. Christina tutored fourth-graders and built and repaired homes in this community of
1,000, where half the homes have no indoor plumbing and unemployment is above 50%. Through AmeriCorps, she
discovered a love for teaching and a passion to help her community. She enrolled in the Teacher Education
Program at nearby Diné College, one of the nation's tribal colleges, and plans to teach on the reservation
when she graduates next year. As a fluent Navajo speaker, Christina will not only help young Navajos succeed
in school but maintain her native language and culture. While attending school full-time, Christina still
tutors, leads a Girl Scout troop and visits elders living in isolation. Christina's older sister, Justina,
also served in AmeriCorps and is in the same teacher preparation program at Diné College.
Pat Brown, who suffers from five chronic illnesses, knows first-hand the hardship that results from the lack
of Medicare prescription drug coverage. Pat used to have prescription drug coverage through Medigap, but the
premiums kept increasing, and she had to buy a cheaper policy -- one which does not include prescription drug
coverage. Her prescription drug costs are approximately $4,200 a year, and she is worried about spending
her life's savings without being able to save for the rest of her retirement. Pat Brown retired five years
ago after serving as the director of the Area Agency on Aging in northeastern Tennessee.
Carlos Rosas is a 33 year old father from St. Paul, Minnesota, who enrolled in a fathers' employment and
training program in October 1996 when he was not earning enough money to keep up with his child support
obligation for his son, Ricardo, who is now 13 years old. At that time, Ricardo's mother was receiving
welfare. During his time with the program operated by the Ramsey County Attorney's office, Carlos worked
hard to upgrade his skills and increase his earning power so he could meet his child support
responsibilities, save money to send Ricardo to college, and improve his own future. Last January when Carlos
introduced the President at an event on responsible fatherhood and Welfare-to-Work, Carlos was balancing a
full-time job as a head maintenance worker while finishing his degree at a two-year Electronics
Technology/Computer Sciences program. In May 1999, Carlos graduated from St. Paul Technical College and
started a full-time job as an In-Shop Technician at Stringer Business Systems.
Co-Captain of the 1999 U.S. Women's World Cup soccer team. A four-time All-American at Stanford University,
Julie has been a member of the team since 1987 and captain since 1991. She has been an active participant in
the Department of Health and Human Services' "Smoke-Free Kids" campaign, and also a strong voice on the issue
of child labor. In 1997 she traveled to Pakistan to ensure that the soccer balls she endorsed were produced
without the use of child labor. For her efforts, she was awarded the 1997 FIFA Fair Play Award, the first
American and the first woman to be so honored.