Who’s Here: Chelsea Clinton, Journalist

When your mother is Secretary of State and your father the 42nd President of the United States, people are going to be interested in you.

The bygone days of shyness and keeping the public at bay are over. Chelsea Clinton has gone primetime. This formidable young woman has garnered a key spot as full-time special correspondent for NBC Nightly News on the program’s “Making A Difference” series. She appears with Brian Williams on his news magazine show, Rock Center. Yes, “Energy,” Clinton’s alleged code name while a preteen in the White House, is holding her own. Her personality and voice are coming through, on her own merit. Name may get you in the door, but hard work and competence plays just as prominent a role.

Williams explained NBC’s decision to hire Clinton in an interview hosted by Piers Morgan on CNN. “If a candidate walked into our offices with her academic training, with her travel, with her access and time around conversations at the highest levels with policy makers, with her business experience…we would sit down if their name was Nancy, and have a thorough conversation about coming to work for us at NBC News.”

Most recently, Clinton proved her consequence as a liaison between notable leaders and the general public when she moderated a discussion on “Combating Islamophobia” between Rabbi Marc Schneier, President for the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and Imam Shamsi Ali, former spiritual leader of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York on March 14. Some of the most prominent leaders in the American Muslim and Jewish communities attended the sold-out event.

Clinton is where she is now due to a passion to help people, a characteristic that she inherited from her parents and grandmother, and a desire to showcase that the ordinary among us can do extraordinary things. She features children raising money for cancer research, for instance. She talks about stories that touch our hearts and make us want to do better. Clinton is quoted in a press release from NBC News: “People who imagine and implement solutions in their own lives, in their communities, in our country and in our world have always inspired me. I have long been impressed that Brian and his team at NBC place such consistent importance on sharing stories of empowerment that in turn, help empower other people and families. I am grateful for this opportunity to continue this tradition.” And obviously NBC News President Steve Capus agreed and that is why he hired her. “Chelsea is a remarkable woman who will be a great addition to NBC News. Given her vast experiences, it’s as though Chelsea has been preparing for this opportunity her entire life,” he told The New York Times.

Clinton holds a bachelors degree in history from Stanford, Masters from both Oxford and Columbia, and is presently working on her doctoral degree from Oxford. She is an advocate and board member of Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) and the Clinton Foundation (CF), working towards its goals to “alleviate poverty, create a cleaner environment, and increase access to health care and education.” Before her gig at NBC, Clinton worked for the consulting firm McKinsey and Company, Avenue Capital Group and New York University. She serves on other boards in addition to CGI and CF. They include, the School of American Ballet (Clinton herself studied ballet), Common Sense Media, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Weill Cornell Medical College and IAC/Inter Active Corp.

Born on Feb. 27, 1980 in Little Rock, Ark. while her father was serving his first term as governor, Clinton’s life has constantly been in the limelight. Despite being the most sought-after and photographed presidential child since Caroline Kennedy and John Kennedy Jr., Clinton has risen above all of the dramatic and scandalous fallout during her father’s Presidency. She has moved on. Clinton has her mother’s grace and strength. Some have criticized her for lacking her father’s charisma. Comparisons are inevitable, but Clinton is her own woman, unfazed by the trivial and more interested in doing good works, as we are seeing. Ask her yourself and she will tell you. But don’t dredge up ancient history. There are more important things to solve in the world, she would probably say. More interesting stories of human bravery and struggle. And who could argue with that?

Yes, Clinton is all grown up and a married woman since 2010. She knows who she is and where she is headed. Clinton married investment banker Marc Mezvinsky in a lavish July 31 wedding in Rhinebeck, New York. Her mate is a kindred spirit, himself the child of political parents. Mezvinsky is the son of former Iowa Democratic congressman, Edward Mezvinsky and Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, former Pennsylvania Democratic congresswoman. The friendship of the Mezvinskys and Clintons led to the meeting of their children. While Clinton is an only child, Mezvinsky is one of 11 children, some adopted.

Clinton admits she avoided the limelight for as long as she needed. “For most of my life, I deliberately led a private life, in the public eye,” she is quoted in The New York Times. Things changed when Clinton campaigned for her mother as a Presidential candidate in 2008. Coupled with advice from her maternal grandmother, Dorothy Rodham, that she “wasn’t doing enough in the world,” Clinton acted upon those words. “Maybe it was a time to start leading a purposefully public life,” she told the Times. She has followed through. Special Correspondent for NBC News is certainly front and center.

Occasionally we get a glimpse of her shopping at our local farmers market in Sag Harbor. Her parents are regular visitors to the East End. Maybe Clinton and Mezvinsky will continue that tradition too. As the “curtain opens on a portrait of today,” as the song “Chelsea Morning” by Joni Mitchell, for which Clinton was named, goes, we see a new image of the little girl chasing her dog on the White House lawn. A woman in her own right, bringing us all a little closer to the world. “Energy,” as it turns out, was a prophetic name for this Clinton of a new generation.

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