Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton on Monday helped the University of Missouri-Kansas City launch a women’s hall of fame. Named for the late Kansas City philanthropist Martha Jane Phillips Starr, the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame will recognize women from the Kansas City area and preserve the legacy of their accomplishments. Starr was one of the first women members of the UMKC Board of Trustees.She was a founder of the university’s Women’s Council and a fund providing financial assistance to female students. She died in 2011 at age 104. Along with UMKC, 24 women’s organizations helped create the hall. The nomination process began Monday. The first class will be inducted this fall.
Clinton, the vice chairwoman of the Clinton Foundation, works with her parents, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to strengthen health systems in developing countries, fight climate change, expand economic opportunity in Africa, Latin America and the United States and help Americans live healthier lives.
“Chelsea Clinton is an inspiration and role model today,” said Katie Hall, a junior at Pembroke Hill School, who introduced Clinton at the event. Hall, who is the granddaughter of the late Kansas City philanthropist Adele Hall, said women in her generation, millennials, “struggle to find other young women as role models.”
Clinton noted that both she and Katie Hall come from families with histories of powerful female role models. “Not every little girl is so lucky to see what is possible to shape their dreams,” Clinton said. “As my mother would say, ‘Equal rights for women and girls is the unfinished business of the 21 century,’ ” Clinton told the 1,100 people in attendance. “We know we have to do something to fix that, not only because it is the right thing to do but because it is the smart thing.”
Nominations to the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame are open to any girl or woman in the 16-county area, regardless of age, said Laurie Roberts, who,with Curt Crespino, a UMKC vice chancellor, is a co-chairwoman of the hall of fame. Nominations will be accepted until July 1. Roberts said that while several organizations in the area recognize the accomplishments of women, the hall of fame will tell the stories of “women who broke down barriers” and connect, encourage and inspire Kansas City women. Reaching out to young women was one reason Clinton was chosen for the day’s event. “She represents the millennial generation,” Roberts said.
Clinton said the hall of fame will “help young people, young girls, close the imagination gap between what they may aspire to do and what is possible.”
“We need young women and girls to imagine themselves as a Martha Jane Phillips Starr, or the next Hilary Rodham Clinton. We have waited far too long to finish this business.”
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