Dana Perino and Susan McCue's Charitable Mission
Dana Perino and Susan McCue
|Dana Perino visits the Abuja Children’s Home in Nigeria in June while on a trip for the Broadcasting Board of Governors|
Dana Perino: After I left the Bush White House in January 2009, I joined the ONE Campaign’s Women’s Advisory Board and the board of Mother’s Day Every Day. Susan McCue helped found the ONE Campaign, and she really propelled it into stratospheric success. She has an amazing reputation, and I was so excited to meet her. She is truly extraordinary— and I don’t say that about many people. Her leadership qualities run the gamut, and her calm demeanor and creativity draw people to her. As it turns out, that was only the beginning of our relationship.
Senator Mitch McConnell recommended me to the Obama White House to serve on the Broadcasting Board of Governors later that year. I had previously volunteered in Africa, and I have long championed press freedom as the best way to ensure human rights, economic prosperity and democracy. Susan had been nominated for a post on the body of eight by President Bush, but it wasn’t until 2010 that Congress confirmed the full board.
Susan and I agreed we wanted to work together on expanding Voice of America’s coverage in Africa, with a particular focus on maternal health and early childhood development (ground she was already covering with ONE and Mother’s Day Every Day). I believe we can reach more women with better programming that can help them with what they need most: information about how to help raise healthy and happy children to be well-educated, well-nourished citizens of the world. Early in our tenure, we planned to visit the continent accompanied by fellow governor Michael Meehan—a big force for improvement at the BBG, whose help in Africa was critical.
We were in Nigeria for only about 36 hours because there had been recent violence; a car bomb had been set off outside one of the ministries. A VOA reporter took us to visit the Abuja Children’s Home. It was fantastic—women from all denominations across the city joined together as the Glorious Women, all supporting this orphanage. The kids were so well taken care of. I remember Susan asking the children what they needed. They yelled, all at once, “Phones! Bicycles!” When we asked the nannies the same question, the answer we got was diapers and formula. I said, “Well, you’re obviously taking very good care of them, because they want what every other kid in the world wants—phones and bikes! They don’t even know they need formula and diapers.” The next day, we saw some bikes for sale on the side of the road, so we bought four and took them to the home. It was a wonderful experience, one of the best of the trip.
Even before I had been appointed to the board, I had known Susan by reputation and through Mother’s Day Every Day. With her small, thriving philanthropic enterprise, she does a breathtaking amount of nonprofit work, yet she always manages to look cool under pressure. I have never met anyone in Washington, from either side of the aisle, who does not like Susan. I admired her for having corralled the Senate for Sen. Harry Reid [as his chief of staff from 1999 to 2006] during some very turbulent times in our country. Believe me, more agreements could be made in Washington if she were still in that position.
PHOTOGRAPH BY GREG POWERS (OPENER);
Celebrating the White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner at Carnegie Library.