Anne-Marie Slaughter. You are a public servant and a policy maker. An expert lawyer, a distinguished professor, and for two boys, a parent. In the ongoing conversation on work and life, you bring fresh eyes and an ardent voice.
It was 1958 and the whole wide world was changing fast. You were born on a September Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, and it’s easy to imagine that you took notice of it all. But there was still a lot to learn. You earned your B.A. from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton in 1980, where you would return several decades later to serve as Dean. You received a master of philosophy in international relations from Oxford in 1982, with a doctor of philosophy to follow. And in between, you graduated from Harvard Law School in 1985.
But while those institutions, steeped in tradition, prepared you for a career, they didn’t begin to prepare you for the challenges you would find. After teaching at Harvard Law and serving as the first woman Dean at the Woodrow Wilson School, the government called and you answered. On January 23rd, 2009, then U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced your appointment as the new Director of Policy Planning under the Obama administration. Again, you were the first woman to hold that position… one that you called a dream job and a career high. For your stellar work, you earned the Secretary's Distinguished Service Award for exceptional leadership and professional competence, several meritorious honor awards, and the seed of a big life dilemma.
The job at State had separated you from your family, all but weekends, and in many ways, for many reasons, the situation became untenable. You made the choice to return home to Princeton, to join your husband, to focus on your teenage sons, to grapple, to write, and to find out why work life and family life were so often at odds. You had already authored two books on American foreign policy, but it was an article you wrote for The Atlantic just after changing gears that sparked dialogue and turned heads. “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” was one of the most read in the magazine’s history. Why, you asked, were we sugar-coating reality? Why did women still have to decide between caring for their families and soaring through their careers, even if they had every advantage in the world? And how did the choices stack up for women in different jobs and sectors when their options were far more tightly constrained?
You have worked for the federal government, dealt with some of the toughest foreign policy issues of our day, commented on everything from cybersecurity to the world’s refugees, written your latest book, Unfinished Business, along with hundreds of articles, and now serve as president and CEO of the think tank and civic enterprise, New America. Anyone would say that you’ve pretty much done it all. And still, somewhere between changing diapers and challenging norms, you have made a national debate on work and family, on breadwinning and caregiving, both personal and critical.
Dr. Slaughter, today we honor you for bringing gravitas to parenthood, for reminding us that the pursuit of happiness goes along with life and liberty, and for pushing our country to adopt the family-friendly policies that others have already taken to heart. I am proud to present the 2016 Barnard Medal of Distinction… with gratitude, respect, and a hopeful eye to a more humanist revolution.