kids encyclopedia robot

Sylvia Mathews Burwell facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Sylvia Mathews Burwell
Sylvia Mathews Burwell official portrait.jpg
15th President of American University
Assumed office
June 1, 2017
Preceded by Cornelius M. Kerwin
22nd United States Secretary of Health and Human Services
In office
June 9, 2014 – January 20, 2017
President Barack Obama
Deputy Bill Corr
Mary Wakefield (acting)
Preceded by Kathleen Sebelius
Succeeded by Tom Price
39th Director of the Office of Management and Budget
In office
April 24, 2013 – June 9, 2014
President Barack Obama
Deputy Brian Deese
Preceded by Jack Lew
Succeeded by Shaun Donovan
Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget
In office
October 21, 1998 – January 20, 2001
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Jack Lew
Succeeded by Sean O'Keefe
White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy
In office
January 20, 1997 – October 21, 1998
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Harold M. Ickes
Succeeded by Maria Echaveste
Personal details
Sylvia Mary Mathews

(1965-06-23) June 23, 1965 (age 59)
Hinton, West Virginia, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse Stephen Burwell
Children 2
Education Harvard University (BA)
Worcester College, Oxford (BA)

Sylvia Mary Burwell (née Mathews; born June 23, 1965) is an American government and non-profit executive who has been the 15th president of American University since June 1, 2017. Burwell is the first woman to serve as the university's president. Burwell earlier served as the 22nd United States Secretary of Health and Human Services. President Barack Obama nominated Burwell on April 11, 2014. Burwell's nomination was confirmed by the Senate on June 5, 2014, by a vote of 78–17. She served as Secretary until the end of the Obama administration. Previously, she had been the Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget from 2013 to 2014.

A West Virginia native, Burwell first worked for the United States government in Washington, D.C., during the presidency of Bill Clinton. Burwell helped form the National Economic Council in 1993. Burwell later served as Chief of Staff to Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin, Deputy White House Chief of Staff to Erskine Bowles, and finally, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Between her times in government, Burwell served as president of Walmart's charitable foundation focused on ending hunger, beginning in January 2012. Burwell was earlier the president of the Global Development Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where her program focused on combating world poverty through agricultural development, financial services for the poor, and global libraries. She was chief operating officer and executive director before its reorganization in 2006. She joined the Gates Foundation in 2001, at the end of the Clinton presidency.

Early life and education

Mathews was born and raised in Hinton, West Virginia, a small town with a population of approximately 3,000. Her mother, Cleo (née Maroudas) Mathews, was a teacher who also served as Hinton's mayor from 2001 to 2009, and Dr. William Peter Mathews, an optometrist. Her father presided over the local Episcopal Church when there was no minister.

Her maternal grandparents, Vasiliki (Mpakares) and Dennis N. Maroudas, were Greek immigrants, as were her paternal grandparents. Her grandparents owned a sweet shop in Hinton. Mathews has one older sister, four years her senior.

Mathews first showed an interest in politics while still in grade school, when she became involved with her best friend's father's campaign for county commissioner and Jay Rockefeller's first campaign for governor. Mathews served as her student body president and played on her school's basketball team. She graduated as valedictorian of her high school class.

In 1982, she was a Youth For Understanding exchange student in Japan. While still in college, she served as an intern for West Virginia Congressman Nick Rahall, as a governor's aide to Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, and as a researcher for the Michael Dukakis 1988 presidential campaign.

Mathews earned a Bachelor of Arts degree government from Harvard University in 1987. She then enrolled at the University of Oxford, where she became a Rhodes Scholar at Worcester College, and, in her spare time, a rower. She graduated from Oxford with a second bachelor's degree in philosophy, politics, and economics. She has since been appointed as an honorary fellow of Worcester College.


Early career and the Clinton White House

Mathews began her career in 1990 as an associate at the New York consulting firm McKinsey & Company. In 1992, Mathews joined the Bill Clinton 1992 presidential campaign and led the economic team for the president-elect. Following Clinton's inauguration, Mathews, with Robert Rubin, helped establish the National Economic Council (NEC). She served as staff director of the NEC from 1993 to 1995. While Mathews was at NEC, the White House pushed for healthcare reform. Mathews was among those in the administration who advocated for finding ways, apart from legislation, to curb healthcare costs.

When Rubin became secretary of the treasury in 1995, Mathews became his chief of staff. .....

In 1997 Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles recruited Mathews for deputy chief of staff after being impressed with her intelligence during an Oval Office meeting. Mathews became one of two deputy chiefs of staff, serving alongside John Podesta. She was deputy chief of staff for policy, charged with the task of keeping the White House focused on its agenda amid the impeachment of Clinton.

Bowles later praised her as smart, hardworking, and skilled at getting people to work together, saying, "I've never known one person who does all those things as well." Bowles resigned in 1998, at which point Podesta was named chief of staff, and Mathews moved to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), where she took the role of deputy director under Jack Lew. Mathews remained at OMB for the remainder of Clinton's presidency during a time of three budget surpluses.

Charitable foundations and other private sector activities

In 2001 Mathews relocated to Seattle, Washington, to work for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest philanthropic organization in the United States, as an executive vice president. The following year, she became chief operating officer of the Foundation. The Foundation reorganized in 2006, naming Mathews president of the foundation's Global Development Program. .....

She served on the board of the University of Washington Medical Center from 2002 to 2005. During that time, the board oversaw an upgrade to the medical center's electronic medical records and system for tracking patient outcomes. The board was also tasked with setting up a compliance program to fix a Medicare billing irregularity that had resulted in a settlement with federal investigators. She was a Director of MetLife and Metropolitan Life Insurance Company from January 2004 to April 2013. Mathews also served on the boards of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Nike Foundation Advisory Group.

In 2005 Mathews was chosen by the Wall Street Journal as one of The 50 Women to Watch – 2005 worldwide for her work with the Gates Foundation. In 2008, known as Sylvia Mathews Burwell following her 2007 marriage, she was named Obama/Biden Transition Agency Review Lead for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Burwell remained with the Gates Foundation until 2011. She officially joined the Wal-Mart Foundation, which focuses on ending hunger in the United States, as the organization's president in January 2012. Burwell relocated to Bentonville, Arkansas, for the position.

Office of Management and Budget Director

Kathryn Ruemmler, Jack Lew, Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Alyssa Mastromonaco, 2014
Kathryn Ruemmler, Jack Lew, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, and Alyssa Mastromonaco update President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on the government shutdown, October 1, 2013.

On March 3, 2013, President Barack Obama nominated Burwell to be the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. A confirmation hearing was held on April 10. Burwell's nomination received bipartisan support, culminating in the U.S. Senate confirming Burwell as Director by a 96–0 vote. With her confirmation, Burwell became only the second woman to serve as OMB Director, the first being Alice Rivlin, who held the position from 1994 to 1996.

Burwell entered the job at a time when conservatives wanted to decrease spending and defund Obama's signature healthcare legislation, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Although Congress tried to negotiate a continuing resolution to fund the government pending negotiation of the larger budget, it became clear on September 30, 2013, that no temporary agreement would be reached. Without an agreed-upon budget from Congress, Burwell as Director was tasked with initiating a federal government shutdown, the first U.S. federal government shutdown in 17 years. Burwell sent a memo advising agencies and executive departments to shut down, including the closing of national parks, visitors' centers, and even the "panda-cam" at the National Zoo. The shutdown lasted 16 days. Once the government reopened, Burwell helped negotiate a two-year budget deal to avoid future shutdowns.

Health and Human Services secretary

On April 11, 2014, Obama nominated Burwell to be the next secretary of health and human services, succeeding Kathleen Sebelius, who had announced her resignation the day before. At the time of her nomination, Obama praised Burwell as a "proven manager and she knows how to deliver results." The Senate confirmed Burwell as Secretary on June 5, 2014, by a vote of 78–17. She was sworn into office on June 9, 2014. As of 2014, the secretary oversaw the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which included the equivalent of 77,000 full-time employees and the management of several agencies and programs including Medicare and Medicaid, the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At the end of her tenure, Burwell received praise from Democratic and Republican senators.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Sylvia Mathews Burwell para niños

kids search engine
Sylvia Mathews Burwell Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.