Clinton Foundation President Donna Shalala headlined the phone conference roundtable with this quote from Mark Twain: “Rumors of our demise are greatly exaggerated.”
In fact, said Shalala, “We’re alive and well and thriving.”
Shalala said former President Bill Clinton’s letter, which charts the Foundation’s path forward, depicts a “re-energized foundation, better positioned for the brave new world we’re going into.”
The plan going forward, in broad terms, said Shalala is to “build on what we know works,” while also “spinning off some of the programs that have grown to maturity.”
After reading over the President’s letter, I asked Shalala about the foundation’s future priority of empowering girls and women “across all of our programs.” I asked Shalala what that was going to look like for The Clinton Foundation going forward.
“We’ve been working it already,” she said, and described how programs across the foundation, from the Haiti work to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation all have special sessions and strategies for women and girls. “Too Small to Fail is particularly focused on women because they are the major caregivers for children,” said Shalala.
With regard to the foundation’s work on empowerment for women and girls going forward, Shalala stated, “We want to go places where others don’t go in recognizing and empowering women’s lives.”
Shalala described some of the changes coming down the pike for The Clinton Foundation’s programs that are focused on women and girls. “The No Ceilings program is going to partner with Brookings and Vital Voices,” said Shalala. The letter from President Clinton provides background on what these partnerships are doing already:
“No Ceilings continued its work to advance the full participation of girls and women. This year, with Vital Voices Global Partnership and WEConnect International, No Ceilings launched a new coalition of 30 partners from the public and private sectors that seeks to increase women’s economic participation, address violence against girls and women, and promote women’s leadership. The group announced 24 new Commitments to Action at the 2016 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. The projects will invest more than $70 million to help nearly 900,000 people across six continents, promoting gender equality which is key to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”
Next up, Megan O’Neil of the Chronicle of Philanthropy asked Shalala what the plans were for the three Clinton family members involved with the Foundation. Shalala described how both President Clinton and Chelsea remain involved and helped to prepare the transition plan with the foundation’s board. But with regard to the Clinton family member last seen running for President?
“I don’t have an answer on Mrs. Clinton,” said Shalala. “She has not made any kind of announcement other than her announcement about the book she is going to work on.”
Megan O’Neil then asked Shalala about how fundraising went for The Clinton Foundation in 2016.
“As you would expect, we didn’t have the participation of the Clintons for fundraising,” due to the election, said Shalala, but she stated that the foundation did meet its goals in terms of bringing in $20 million. “We exceeded that,” she said, and mentioned that there were several donations received on December 31 from donors previously unknown to the foundation.
Regarding fundraising for the coming year, Shalala said, “I think we’ll be fine in 2017. Both Chelsea and the President are back, and the President has been in at least twice. They are certainly re-engaged with the Foundation. And we’re thinking of different strategies for fundraising. The President has a lot of friends out there, and people want to support the foundation.”
One Monday: More from the Clinton Foundation’s Media Roundtable, including plans for new initiatives, the scoop on how they didn’t touch their endowment for the past two years, and whether President Shalala sees herself continuing on with the Foundation.
Here is a recap of the Clinton Foundation’s goals spelled out in President Clinton’s letter:
- Continue our efforts to combat childhood obesity and improve health across the country. This includes continued support for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, our partnership with the American Heart Association, and increased efforts by the Clinton Health Matters Initiative that includes launching new community health work in San Diego and expanding our work to fight the opioid epidemic.
- Expand our work to improve early learning through Too Small to Fail, launching a new effort to engage dads and grandparents in early learning.
Increase our focus on leadership development and public service through programs like the Presidential Leadership Scholars and CGI University (CGI U).
- Continue our successful economic development work in Rwanda and Malawi and our efforts to improve the lives of smallholder farmers through the Clinton Development Initiative (CDI). As part of a routine review of the efficiency of our programs, we found that we could maximize our impact in Tanzania by refocusing our programmatic efforts on those farmers closest to our commercial farm who will continue to receive support including fertilizer, pesticides, and training.
- Do more to support communities on the front lines of climate change through the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI).
- Keep empowering girls and women a priority across all of our programs.
- And maintain The Clinton Presidential Center and Library’s ability to provide educational and cultural opportunities to Arkansas and beyond, and manifest our belief in the value of service – whether by private citizens or public figures.