Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Calif.), who had served on the House Administration Committee and the Joint Committee on the Library, both with oversight responsibility for the Library, died of cancer at her California home on April 22. She was 68.
In January 2007, Millender-McDonald became the first African-American woman to be appointed to chair the powerful Committee on House Administration. The week before she died, she was elected as the vice chairwoman of the Joint Committee on the Library. As the invited keynote speaker for African-American History Month, she spoke at the Library in February. (See Information Bulletin, March 2007.)
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said: "She was an inspirational force to many of us here, and she was a wonderfully dedicated and effective public servant. Her last talk here [the African-American History Month keynote] was given to a standing-room-only crowd. Ms. Millender-McDonald will be missed for her commitment, her tireless energy and her connection to those she served and those she encouraged."
Having won a special election in 1996, she represented California's 37th congressional district for seven terms. Appointed to the Committee on House Administration in 2005, Millender-McDonald worked with Rep. Vernon Ehlers, R-Mich., then chairman of that committee, to hold an oversight hearing in 2006 to focus on the Library's digital future and its plans for the Jefferson Building New Visitors Experience—both of which she heartily endorsed. She also kept a watchful eye on Library personnel matters, wanting, she said during that 2006 hearing, to ensure "a safe landing" for Library employees facing a job swap as some move to Culpeper, Va., and some remain, and for others going through a reduction in force.
Her seat will be filled in a special California election.