CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In her first major speech since stepping down as U.S. secretary of state in February, Hillary Clinton spent several minutes Thursday talking about McDowell County, citing the Reconnecting McDowell program as a model for public/private partnerships.
Clinton gave a 30-minute speech in Chicago at the annual convention of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.
The much-anticipated speech -- Clinton's return to the national stage amid rampant speculation of a possible presidential run in 2016 -- focused on early childhood development and education, expanding opportunities for women and girls and creating jobs, particularly for young people.
The convention brought together high-ranking elected officials, Cabinet secretaries, business leaders and political activists.
Clinton cited Reconnecting McDowell, a program to improve education and economic opportunity in McDowell County, as an example of the collaborative work that the foundation was trying to do.
"In a place like McDowell County, West Virginia, the problems didn't start with the latest recession and no single program or investment is going to turn things around. The schools, jobs, infrastructure, public health, it's all connected, and you have to work on all of them at the same time. That's what this new partnership is designed to do," Clinton said.
"In a larger sense, that's what CGI [Clinton Global Initiative] America is designed to do, too. To bring together the best ideas, wherever they come from, to find the most innovative solutions and most committed partners, to take on our country's biggest challenges in an integrated, collaborative way."
Reconnecting McDowell is a joint venture of the American Federation of Teachers, state government and more than 100 businesses and nonprofits.
Gayle Manchin, the vice president of the state Board of Education and one of the people who helped launch Reconnecting McDowell, was delighted to hear about Clinton's remarks.