As First Lady of Iowa, Christie Vilsack has worked to build a sense of community among Iowans by promoting family literacy, public libraries, school libraries, and computer literacy.
Through her literacy foundation, Iowa Stories 2000, she created a process that helped 70 Iowa communities inventory literacy programs and help groups whose literacy needs were not being met.
Each year she raises resources to give every Iowa kindergartener a book about Iowa by an Iowa author.
She has traveled to over 450 Iowa libraries urging Iowans to support public libraries as an economic development tool, an opportunity for life-long learning and a connector to a changing world through technology.
She has worked to educate policy makers and the public about the need for certified-teacher librarians in every school, so children can develop the critical and analytical skills they will need to become savvy consumers of electronic media for education, recreation and communication. She created the Glass Apple award to honor teacher-librarians and school districts committed to retaining and hiring qualified teacher-librarians.
She has started an on-line middle school book club which engages students in conversations about adolescent fiction and which links students to other websites about related topics.
Because of her 30 years experience working with middle school, high school and college students, Christie Vilsack has a special interest in issues concerning adolescents. She speaks to high school students about opportunities in Iowa’s new economy. She discusses the changing nature of high schools and the value of higher education.
She founded the Capitol Project, a civic awareness conference for high school students. She sponsored The Young Women’s Health Conference and advocates for Journeys, an outdoor awareness program for middle school girls.
She continues to welcome visitors to the governor’s Mansion, Terrace Hill, aiming to increase public participation in government.
Mrs. Vilsack attended Kirkland College in New York and received her master’s degree from the University of Iowa School of Journalism. In Mount Pleasant, she taught language arts to eighth graders and also at the Iowa Wesleyan College, teaching English and journalism. The Governor and Mrs. Vilsack have two grown sons, Jess and Doug.