June 05, 2010
Mr. President: It is my honor to present to you, the trustees, and the graduating class of 2010, Tina Tchen for the degree of Doctor of Laws.
Ms. Tchen holds the position of Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, which is often described as the open front door to the White House. As Director, she coordinates direct dialogue between President Obama' s administration and the various citizens and groups who aim to have their voices heard. In increasing dialogue, her office encourages people with differing viewpoints to engage with government, helping to shape policies as well as to increase public awareness of the logic of government decisions.
Ms Tchen also serves as executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls. The Council coordinates the work of federal agencies in ensuring that issues facing women and girls are handled efficiently and effectively. In her capacity as executive director, Ms. Tchen has advocated for issues of women's health, including access to reproductive health, maternity care, and screenings for breast cancer.
Her appointment as executive director of the Council on Women and Girls is a continuation of a lifelong dedication to issues that affect women, children, and families. After graduating from Harvard University, Ms Tchen worked with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. While in Springfield, she became active in the Springfield chapter of the National Organization for Women, working toward the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. She later worked with the National Organization for Women to rewrite the Illinois rape statute to include crimes of sexual assault and other abuse.
After graduating from Northwestern University School of Law, she spent twenty-five years working at the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, and Flom, the last thirteen as partner of litigation. In addition to her corporate clients, Ms. Tchen represented public agencies such as the Illinois Department of Public Aid, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, and the Chicago Housing Authority. She has received numerous awards, including Chicago Lawyer "Person of the Year" in 1994.
Mr. President, Tina Tchen has shown a lifelong commitment to equality, justice, and service to community, commitments we hope as educators that we inspire in our students. It is my honor and privilege to present Tina Tchen for the degree of Doctor of Laws.
Presented by Andrew Civettini, Assistant Professor of Political Science.