Ithaca College Quarterly, Summer 1998

In July the first lady came to town. She had made a quick decision to stop in Ithaca on her way back from Seneca Falls, where she and thousands of women had celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Women’s Rights Convention and the Declaration of Sentiments, commonly credited as the official start to the modern women’s rights movement. Rodham Clinton joined a panel at the Greater Ithaca Activities Center; the topic was day care. Tim Little ’93, at the time recreation supervisor of the center, was a member of the discussion group that also included GIAC’s director, Marcia Fort, as well as several other community service professionals, parents, a law enforcement officer, and an education theorist. The talk ran more than an hour and covered ways to expand child-care options for working parents, improve safety, and enable more people access to care. Little shares with us what it was like to prepare for the big day — with less than 48 hours’ notice.

By Tim Little '93

Hillary Rodham Clinton's whirlwind visit to Ithaca was an opportunity and a challenge.

Many think that inviting an individual to speak at their agency would be an easy task. They’d be wrong if they were talking about first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who travels with an entourage of eight or more Secret Service officers and six to eight White House staff members, who all ride in a motorcade of 10 vehicles. Also take into consideration that she was visiting a building—the Greater Ithaca Activities Center—that needs some serious capital improvements, and that the staff had less than two days to prepare for this historic event.

People have been wondering how and why GIAC was picked. This is the story of what happened leading up the afternoon of Thursday, July 16, 1998.

It all started the previous Tuesday, when we received a call from Rod Rosen, assistant to the director of the White House advance team for the first lady. Rod asked if we would be willing to have Mrs. Clinton stop at GIAC for a visit before arriving at the Statler Hotel on the Cornell campus for Representative Maurice Hinchey’s evening campaign fund-raiser. Of course we couldn’t decline an offer like that.

Rod also said there were other sites in consideration but that there was a strong recommendation for GIAC. Another potential site was Ithaca Area Child Care. Once the advance team toured our facility, they seemed impressed with our program and wanted the first lady to come to GIAC.

Photo by Tracy Meier

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