THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
INDIVIDUALS SEATED IN THE FIRST LADY'S GALLERY STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS JANUARY 27, 1998
The people invited to sit in the First Lady's box for the State of the Union Address personify the themes of the President's speech and his vision of 21st century America. They are leaders in the fields of discovery, service and building One America. The following individuals will be joining the First Lady and Mrs. Gore tonight to watch the State of the Union because they represent the Promise of America.
DR. HAROLD VARMUS - Dr. Varmus has been the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since November 1993. Previously, he was a professor of microbiology, biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Varmus shared the 1989 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Dr. Michael Bishop for demonstrating that cancer genes (oncogenes) can arise from normal cellular genes.
COL. ROBERT CABANA - Col. Cabana will command the crew of STS-88, the first Space Shuttle mission to carry hardware to space for the assembly of the International Space Station. The 7-day mission is targeted for launch in July 1998. He currently resides in Houston, Texas. A native of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Col. Cabana is a Colonel in the United States Marine Corps and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in 1981; he has logged over 5,000 hours in 33 different kinds of aircraft. Selected by NASA in 1985, Col. Cabana is a veteran of three space shuttle flights and has logged over 627 hours in space. He is married and has three children.
SGT. MICHAEL TOLBERT - Sgt. Tolbert, 27, was born in Wuerzburg, Germany to Sergeant Major Luther Tolbert, a decorated Army veteran who received the purple heart for his service in Vietnam. After working his way through college as an electrical engineer at the University of Southern Colorado, Sgt. Tolbert joined the United States Army, following in his father's footsteps of military service. In the Army, Sgt. Tolbert was recognized for his leadership and ability by being elected Brigade Soldier of the Quarter while stationed at Fort Drum, New York. In January 1997, his unit, the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Golden Dragons, has deployed to Bosnia as a part of the international Stabilization Force (SFOR). While in Bosnia, Sgt. Tolbert led his troops to secure the Udrigovo Radio Tower and prevent the former Bosnian Serb government from broadcasting anti-NATO messages. Today, he has returned to Fort Drum where his unit is currently assisting the Northern New York area with disaster relief.
GOV. LAWTON CHILES - Governor Chiles is one of the nation's top child advocates and has pushed especially to increase the quantity and quality of child care services for Florida's children. He established the Florida Child Care Executive Partnership made up of business leaders who have raised $6 million from local businesses and other sources matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis to enable Florida to serve 4,000 additional children from working families. Governor Chiles has been an advocate for increased funds for school construction and preventive children's health programs.
ELAINE KINSLOW - In the past year, over two million Americans have left the welfare rolls -- the largest decline in history -- and Elaine Kinslow of Indianapolis, Indiana, is one of these success stories. Now a transportation dispatcher making $18,000 a year, Ms. Kinslow left welfare for good last February after 13 years on and off the rolls. Just 10 days ago, she was able to move her family to a better neighborhood with better schools for her children.
MAYOR CHUCK BURRIS - In 1997, the Honorable Charles Burris became the first African-American mayor elected in the City of Stone Mountain, Georgia, a city known as the former headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan. In 1991, Mayor Burris was elected to serve a two-year term on the Stone Mountain City Council and in 1993, he was re-elected to a four-year term. As a council member, Burris was elected Mayor Pro-Tem four times. He also served as appointed Chairperson of the Finance Committee. Additionally, Mayor Burris chaired the Public Safety, Personnel, and Recreation committees during his tenure. Prior to his public service in Stone Mountain, Mayor Burris served as a crime research analyst for the City of Atlanta. Mayor Burris was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and graduated from Morehouse College in 1971, with a B.A. in Political Science. Mayor Burris received his L.L.B. in 1975, from John Marshall Law School. Mayor Burris is married to Marcia Baird Burris and has five children and one grandson.
REV. DR. R. LAWTON HIGGS, SR. - Rev. Higgs is the organizing pastor of Church of the Reconciler, an interracial United Methodist Congregation in downtown Birmingham, Alabama. He is a co-chairperson of the Metro Area Justice Interfaith Committee, an ecumenical and interfaith voice on matters of racial and economic justice in Birmingham. He also serves on the board of Alabama Arise, a grassroots organization which advocates for the needs of the poor. He worked as an engineer for eight years before joining the ordained ministry. Rev. Higgs graduated from Candler School of Theology at Emory in 1977, with a Master of Divinity and completed a Doctor of Ministry at Drew Theological Seminary in 1988. Rev. Higgs was born in Bauxite, Arkansas in 1940. He is married and is the father of three children.
JOHN HOPE FRANKLIN - Dr. Franklin is Chairman of Advisory Board to the President's Initiative on Race. A resident of Durham, North Carolina, he is a retired historian and educator, who most recently served as Professor of Legal History at Duke University Law School from 1982 to 1992. President Clinton awarded Dr. Franklin the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995. Dr. Franklin's scholarly work has focussed on the Civil War and Reconstruction era and includes the 1946 landmark study From Slavery to Freedom. Dr. Franklin received his A.B. degree from Fisk University in 1935, an M.A. from Harvard University in 1936, and a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1941.
PEGGY HAACK - Peggy Haack is a child care provider from Madison, Wisconsin, who currently cares for children in her home. She also works for the Center for the Child Care Workforce, advocating for decent wages for child care workers. Ms. Haack has worked in child care for 21 years since earning her graduate degree in Child Development and Preschool-Kindergarten Education. She has also long been a champion of quality child care. She supports education and training efforts to reduce staff turnover, and adequate compensation for child care providers. Ms. Haack has been a foster parent for over ten years and has two adopted daughters.
FREDERICK WON PARK - Mr. Park is a special education teacher at a public elementary school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A graduate of the Connecticut and Wheelock College, Mr. Park places an emphasis on rigorous academic standards, hands-on learning, direct student involvement, family involvement and a deep appreciation for music and the arts. Prior to joining the Cambridgeport School, Mr. Park trained in working with students with severe emotional and behavioral problems.
FRANKIE GOMEZ - As a second year AmeriCorps member with CityYear, 19 year-old Frankie Gomez directs her own program called The Little Big Citizens, an after-school program serving low-income students on the East Side of San Jose, California. A native of Santa Clara, California, Frankie, the daughter of a teen-age mother, raised her younger brother while graduating from San Jose High School. She applied to CityYear after her freshman year at San Francisco University. CityYear is an innovative entrepreneurial service organization that engages diverse youth aged 17-24 in team-based service to meet the critical needs of children and their communities.
BOB STANTON - Robert G. Stanton was sworn in as Director of the National Park Service in August 1997. As Director, he has policy and administrative responsibility for the 375 units in the National Park System, including many of America's most significant historic sites. A former park ranger and a native of Fort Worth, Texas, Mr Stanton is the 15th person to serve as Director of the National Park Service and the first African American in the history of the 81 year-old agency to hold that position.