Photo by Sarah Davenport
How cool to go "behind the scenes" with Ann Compton at the 4th Smarttalk for 2010 series at the Dupont Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware.
Ann's favorite part of working as a White House reporter is the travel. She's traveled the globe to Prague, China, New Delhi.
On her favorite trip, Ann traveled for two full weeks with former first lady Hillary Clinton and Hillary's daughter Chelsea on a special tour of Asia. All the countries they visited had either religious, customs, or laws that gave women second class status, but all of the countries had just elected a woman as a leader.
Her story of visiting Mother Theresa Orphange's in New Delhi, pulled at my heart. All of the cribs were full of baby girls, because girl children are not valued.
Ann didn't name her favorite First Lady, but she talked about her close relationship with Hillary Clinton. After a full day on the Asian tour, she, Hillary and Chelsea would relax on the plane in slippersocks and have some girl talk.
She's loved working on Capitol Hill, where she and the press are often just "twenty paces" from the door to the Oval Office at the White House. "It's amazing how close up" the press can be to our government, she said. High drama "took her breath away" when alll three branches of the government met for the impeachment trial of Presdient Bill Clinton.
Not every mom can remember the birth's of her children with the days headlines; from presidential primaries and inaugurals to American Embassy bombings. Ann and her husband had four children in five years, and she feels "flexibility" is the key to juggling career and family.
Ann's story about 9/11 brought an intense silence to the theatre. She was present as the president got word that the planes had hit the twin towers. Washington reporters rotate riding on Airforce One. That day it was her turn, so she was onboard as the president's plane took off. After the pentagon was hit, airforce one stayed in flight untill it was necessary to land to refuel. Ann was not allowed to use her cell phone on the plane, but a special phone was provided for her to correspond with ABC. Towards the end of the flight, she was jolted by a sudden ring to her cell phone. The message was from her daughter. "Mommy, why didn't you call me?" Her daughter was away at college for the first time and scared. The plane finally landed in Nebraska where an underground bunker exhists, and Ann boarded a helicopter back to Washington. All other flights at that time had been grounded. As she approached the city she could see the smoke rising from the pentagon. Ann went into her office and opened her laptop. A message from her son popped up. His best friend was on the 91st floor of Tower One. The full impact of the event hit her, and she sat and cried.