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Alison "Lissa" Muscatine

Email from Lissa Muscatine

Alison “Lissa” Muscatine received her B.A. in history from Harvard University and was among the first class of women to be awarded a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University in 1977. Prior to entering public service, Muscatine worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for the Washington Post, Washington Star, and the Delta Democrat Times.

Muscatine served as a Presidential Speechwriter (1993-1995), Special Assistant to the President and Presidential Speechwriter (1996-1998), and Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the First Lady (2000-2001). As the chief (and at times the only) speechwriter for Hillary Rodham Clinton, Muscatine wrote speeches for the First Lady’s domestic events, campaign events, and foreign trips. As Communications Director, Muscatine coordinated with the press on the First Lady’s schedules, events, interviews, travel, and issued statements on behalf of the First Lady’s Office. She also assisted with the First Lady’s column, Talking it Over, and the First Lady’s 1996 book, It Takes a Village.

Handwritten Note

Muscatine is notably remembered for writing the First Lady’s speech at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. On the heels of a controversial and failed Health Care Reform effort, Hillary Clinton turned her attention toward women’s rights. Muscatine was tasked with developing a speech for the conference that would address the universal experience of women across the globe. The speech’s unambiguous statements emphasized the message that “Human Rights are Women’s Rights”, including the statement that “no one should be forced to remain silent for fear of religious or political persecution, arrest, abuse, or torture.”

On June 26, 1996, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton announced to the American Newswomen's Club that she would begin submitting a weekly column about her experiences and observations as the First Lady. The weekly columns were titled “Talking it Over,” and were submitted to the Creators Syndicate for publication in newspapers across the country from 1995 to 2000. The First Lady wrote her column with Lissa Muscatine, by either providing a draft to Muscatine to be finalized, or by Muscatine pulling from recent speeches to create the column. The Washington Post described the end result as “polished and organized, like a speech.”

Email from Lissa Muscatine

Concerning her time as chief speechwriter for Hillary Clinton, Muscatine stated in a 2014 Washington Post article that “Most people think you have to know how they talk, and you do have to know their rhythms and their cadences, but you really have to know how they think, how they put their ideas together, how their mind structures the argument they’re trying to make. Sometimes, it’s a conscious thing, and sometimes, you just happen to think in the same way.”

After the White House, Muscatine spent two years collaborating with Hillary Clinton on the Living History book, worked as a speechwriter and senior advisor for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, and served as Chief of Speechwriting and Senior Adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the U.S. Department of State (2009-2011). In 2011, Lissa Muscatine and her husband purchased the Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C. Muscatine is currently working on a book to be published by Penguin Press entitled, Hillaryland.

Collections related to Lissa Muscatine

2011-0415-S Records Related to Lissa Muscatine, First Ladies Office, First Lady's Press Office

2012-0094-F United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women 

2015-0275-S Records of Lissa Muscatine, First Lady's Office

2015-0352-F HRC Beijing Speech Drafts

2017-1164-S Records of Lissa Muscatine, Speechwriting