(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama has announced that Dr. Jill Biden's chief of staff, Cathy Russell, will be his nominee for the ambassador at large for global women's issues. Russell is a longtime Biden staffer and the wife of Obama’s National Security Advisor, Tom Donilon.
Dr. Biden released a statement following the president's announcement Monday:
“We are so grateful for all of Cathy’s hard work and can’t imagine a better choice to be our next Ambassador to work on the most pressing issues faced by women and girls around the globe. Through the more than 25 years we have known Cathy, she has made a tremendous difference in the fight to promote gender equality and advance the status of women and girls, helped raise awareness about the issues critical to military families through Joining Forces, and strengthened the role community colleges play in creating the workforce of the future. We will miss Cathy, but know that she will make a real difference in the lives of women and girls throughout the world in her new role.”
In addition to serving as Dr. Biden's chief of staff, Russell was also staff director of the Senate Judiciary Committee for Senator Biden in 1994 when the landmark Violence Against Women Act passed. She served as a senior advisor to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee where she drafted S.2279, The International Violence Against Women Act of 2007, and last year, supervised the interagency process for developing the first United States Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-based Violence Globally.
Obama made the announcement Monday at the yearly Women’s History Month event in the East Room, where he recounted women’s struggles for the right to vote (100 years ago this month), the fight to break the glass ceiling, the fight over pay discrimination, and to seek the ability to make healthy choices for themselves and become role models for young people today.
Obama said that although he is “used to being surrounded every day by talented, accomplished women -- from all the meetings I have in the West Wing to the dinner table with Michelle, Malia & Sasha. But … even for somebody who is accustomed to it, this is a pretty exceptional group that I’m looking at around here.” Those gathered at the event included A&E Networks CEO Abbe Raven, activist Lilly Ledbetter and WNBA star Tamika Catchings.
“We can make sure that every single door is open, every dream is within reach for Malia, for Sasha, for your daughters, for your granddaughters, to make sure that they never feel like there are barriers in front of them and, if they work hard, they can make it,” Obama said.
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