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Directory:Hillary Rodham Clinton
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Born in Chicago, Hillary Rodham was the first student ever asked to give the commencement address at Wellesley College, where she earned her bachelor's degree in 1969. At Yale Law School, she met her future husband, Bill Clinton, and her lifelong mentor, Marian Wright Edelman, who founded the Children's Defense Fund, an organization that lobbies for children's welfare. Rodham worked there as a staff attorney for a year after graduating from law school in 1973, and later chaired the organization's board. In 1974, after working for the special U.S. House panel investigating a possible impeachment of President Richard Nixon, she moved to Arkansas, where she began teaching law at the University of Arkansas. She and Bill Clinton were married a year later. The Clintons have a daughter, Chelsea. In 1977 Clinton founded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families and joined the Rose Law Firm, where she practiced until 1992, specializing in patent infringement and intellectual property. She was twice named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America by the National Law Journal. As the first presidential spouse with her own successful professional career, Clinton drew criticism from those who favored a more traditional role for the first lady. After taking office, President Clinton chose her to head a special commission on health care reform, the most significant public policy initiative of his first year in office. The special commission developed a comprehensive health care proposal, which was presented to the Congress of the United States in September 1993. Although Clinton was praised for her intricate knowledge of the issue, critics attacked the cost of the plan and the burden it placed on small employers. Throughout 1994 other groups drafted proposals, but Congress could not reach agreement on the health care issue. The failure of health care reform resulted in a major defeat for the Clintons and caused the first lady to step back from a prominent role in public policy decisions. In 1993 both Clintons came under scrutiny during an investigation which questioned the couple's 1978 investment in a failed real estate venture called the Whitewater Development Corporation and their connection to a bankrupt savings and loans association. In January 1996 Hilary Rodham Clinton was called to testify before a grand jury investigating the Whitewater Affair, as these financial dealings came to be known. It was the first time a first lady was asked to appear before a grand jury. Clinton traveled extensively as first lady, and promoted new responsibilities and opportunities for women, particularly in the world's developing countries. In September 1995 she attended the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. In addition to helping her husband in his 1996 presidential election campaign, Clinton also worked actively for children's welfare issues. In 1996 Clinton published a book, It Takes a Village, that focused on the responsibilities that society has toward children.