Elsie Hillman Chair in Women & Politics
The Elsie Hillman Chair in Women and Politics was established by the The Hillman Foundation, Inc. in 1997 in order to honor the Pittsburgh, PA native and longtime political leader. The Chair serves as an inspiration and role model for the university community and citizens of Pennsylvania.
The purpose of the Chair is to bring nationally renowned political leaders, scholars, and activists to Chatham University and the Pittsburgh community to enrich the experiences of students and educate citizens about the role of women in the political process.
2014 Elsie Hillman Chair in Women & Politics: Gwen Ifill
Gwen Ifill is moderator and managing editor of Washington Week and senior correspondent and co-anchor for the PBS Newshour. She is also frequently asked to moderate debates in national elections, most recently the Vice Presidential debates during the 2008 and 2004 elections.
Ifill joined both Washington Week and the NewsHour in 1999, interviewing newsmakers and reporting on issues ranging from foreign affairs to politics. In 2009, Washington Week with Gwen Ifill was honored with the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award. In 2010, Ifill received the Fred Friendly First Amendment Award.
Before coming to PBS, she spent five years at NBC News as chief congressional and political correspondent. Ifill joined NBC News from The New York Times where she covered the White House and politics. She also covered national and local affairs for The Washington Post, Baltimore Evening Sun and Boston Herald American. She is the author of The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama (Doubleday, 2009).
She has received more than 20 honorary doctorates and is the recipient of several broadcasting excellence awards, including honors from Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center, the National Press Foundation, the Radio Television News Directors Association, American Women in Radio and Television and the Matrix Award.
A native of New York City and a graduate of Simmons College in Boston, Ifill is a lifetime member of the National Association of Black Journalists and serves on the board of the Committee to Protect Journalists and the News Literacy Project.
*Gwen Ifill will give a public lecture on Wednesday, April 2, 2014 .
Mrs. Hillman has served as a principal member of the Republican National Committee for more than 20 years. She served as Republican National Committeewoman from Pennsylvania from 1975 to 1996, and on the Republican State Committee's Leadership Committee from 1974 to 1996. Prior to serving on the State and National party committees, Mrs. Hillman was one of the first women elected to chair an urban county Republican Committee when she served as County Chairman of the Allegheny County Republican Committee from 1967 to 1970. She has also chaired several statewide campaigns for a number of Republican leaders including former Senator John Heinz, Governors Dick Thornburgh and Tom Ridge among many others.
Through her political work, Mrs. Hillman began to realize how few women were active in Pennsylvania politics. Gender equity in politics became a passion for Mrs. Hillman, culminating in two organizations she helped create and establish: The Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University and Run Baby Run.
In 1998, the Hillman Foundation, Inc. and the Maurice Falk Medical Foundation established the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University. In 2003, the Center and the Elsie Hillman Chair in Women and Politics were reconceived and endowed solely by the generosity of the Hillman Foundation. The mission of the Center directly reflects Mrs. Hillman's engagement in the civic sphere, educating and empowering women of all ages about their political potential and impact.
A few years later in 2006 Mrs. Hillman established Run Baby Run, a non-partisan political action committee (PAC). The mission of the PAC is to help change the face of "Old Boy Politics" in Harrisburg and Western Pennsylvania by helping fund and elect women to Pennsylvania's House and Senate. Mrs. Hillman Co-Chaired the PAC because she knew gender equity in the PA State House wouldn't happen by accident, and that it was long overdue. Both organizations show the strong commitment Mrs. Hillman has to changing the face of politics in Pennsylvania by increasing the involvement of women in politics.
Mrs. Hillman attended the Ellis School, graduated from the Ethel Walker School, studied at Westminster Choir College, and has been awarded nine honorary degrees in recognition of her outstanding contributions to society. The charitable contributions of Mrs. Hillman and her husband, Henry, have had tremendous impact in Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania. Some of the organizations benefiting from their involvement include University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and Hillman Cancer Center, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Symphony Society, the Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, the White House Endowment Fund, Shadyside Hospital Foundation, the Urban League of Pittsburgh, and the University of Pittsburgh.