What Is the Value of an Education in ‘Voluntarism’?
From her days as a member of the Junior League of Little Rock, Carol Rasco knew that she could make a difference in children’s lives
As president for the last 10 years of Reading is Fundamental, the largest children’s literacy nonprofit in the U.S., Ms. Rasco has been a tireless advocate for getting books into the hands of children at an early age, particularly those who are growing up in homes without books. But her leadership training came at the Junior League of Little Rock, where Ms. Rasco got her formal education in voluntarism when she joined in the late 1970s.
AJLI President Delly Beekman says, “Like so many other women in the 111-year-history of The Junior League, Carol got her start in civic leadership as a member of a group of dedicated volunteers, advocating for change at the community level. She got to know League members while advocating for education rights for the disabled in advance of the passage of P.L. 94-192 after her son, Hamp, was born disabled. That led to an invitation to join JLLR, and Carol never looked back.”
As a JLLR member, she gained working knowledge of how decisions were made in her hometown as well as within the state as a whole. From a start planning League activities, including fundraisers, she got to know Bill Clinton, then the Governor of Arkansas, and worked in his administration and, later, in Washington when he became the country’s 43rd President.
In Arkansas, she served as the chief policy adviser for Governor Clinton for 10 years and also served as the liaison to the National Governors Association. Eventually, her work with the Clintons led to Carol’s resigning as a JLLR member in the mid-1980s because of the time she was spending in Washington, where she still lives (though she recently became a non-resident sustaining member of JLLR, and her daughter, Mary-Margaret, is the League’s President-elect).
In Washington, she served as senior adviser to former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, and was director of the America Reads Challenge, a four-year national campaign to promote the importance of all children reading well and independently by the end of the 3rd grade. Previously, she worked for four years in the White House as domestic policy adviser to President Clinton and directed the Domestic Policy Council.
After leaving the White House, she was the executive director for government relations at the College Board before taking the senior position at Reading is Fundamental.
About The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc.
Founded in 1901 by New Yorker and social activism pioneer, Mary Harriman, the Junior Leagues are charitable nonprofit organizations of women, developed as civic leaders, creating demonstrable community impact.
Today, The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc. (AJLI) is comprised of more than 155,000 women in 292 Junior Leagues throughout Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States. Together, they constitute one of the largest, most effective volunteer organizations in the world.
Tracy Van Buskirk
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