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In Memoriam: Evelyn S. Lieberman, '66, SUNY Hon. D.H.L., '14

In Memoriam: Evelyn S. Lieberman, '66, SUNY Hon. D.H.L., '14

Posted: December 14, 2015

Buffalo State College mourns the passing of Evelyn S. Lieberman, ’66, SUNY Hon. D.H.L., ’14, who died on December 12 in Washington, D.C., after a battle with cancer. She was 71.

One of the college’s most accomplished graduates, Lieberman led a remarkable life in public service.

She was the nation’s first-ever female White House deputy chief of staff, serving as a key adviser to President Bill Clinton. She also served as assistant to the chief of staff in the Office of the First Lady during the Clinton presidency and later worked as the chief operating officer of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential election campaign. In addition, she was appointed the first-ever under secretary for public diplomacy and public affairs at the U.S. Department of State, reporting to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

She began her prolific career as a high school English teacher and concluded it as senior adviser and assistant to the secretary for external relations at the Smithsonian Institution. In between, she also served as director of Voice of America, the official external broadcast institution of the United States federal government; press secretary for then-Senator Joe Biden; and director of public affairs at the Children’s Defense Fund, where she was inspired by the organization’s founder Marian Wright Edelman, who told her that “service is the rent we pay for living.” Throughout her career, Lieberman took those words to heart and dedicated herself to mentoring young women in the workplace.

Lieberman returned to her alma mater in May 2014 to receive an honorary doctor of humane letters from the State University of New York and to offer a spirited commencement address in which she thanked her mother, two brothers, and husband, Ed Lieberman, for encouraging her life’s work.

This past April, she came back to campus to meet and mentor small groups of students and to present the spring 2015 lecture in the Paul G. Bulger Lecture Series. She delighted the audience with a behind-the-scenes look at American politics and the “life rules” she had learned along the way:

  • Be kind to others.
  • Stand up for yourself.

  • Tell the truth.
  • Work for what you want in life.
  • If you don’t mind who gets the credit, then more work can get done.

  • No crying at work.

Statement by the Vice President and Jill Biden On the Passing of Evelyn Lieberman

Marian Wright Edelman Statement on the loss of Evelyn S. Lieberman 

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