Putting Aside Politics to Put Children First

October 23, 2012
With the passing of former Sen. George McGovern (D-SD), the world has lost a consistent champion for global development and for the elimination of hunger and disease. Although he lost his race for President in 1972, his impact has been felt across the years on a wide range of humanitarian issues.  In these partisan times, it is encouraging to note how he and another unsuccessful Presidential candidate, former Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS), collaborated after their Senate careers to propose the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program that has provided meals to 22 million children in 41 countries. Their efforts show us what can be accomplished when differences are put aside and the needs of children are put first. I am privileged to share that Sen. McGovern gave me my start on Capitol Hill. During my freshman year at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, I volunteered in his office several days a week. I worked for him because I believed in the issues he was working to advance. I was not from South Dakota and I had no political connections. Nevertheless, he granted me one of his two paid summer internships. He gave me the opportunity to begin a career in public policy. Most importantly, he fueled my idealism and that of so many others of my generation. He showed us that we could make a difference if we got involved in the process—lessons we at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF are advancing today to create a world where ZERO children die of things we can prevent
Shown on the left is a picture of me with the Senator at the end of my internship. I was 19 years old then. Fast-forward a few decades to the second picture, which was taken of us at a World Food Program USA event a few years ago. On that occasion, the Senator reiterated his strong support for UNICEF and its work for children. I think history will be kind in its judgment of this decent, highly-principled public servant. George McGovern fostered many "children," and I was among them.  May his example inspire us in our efforts to do whatever it takes to save a child.