February 11, 2010 — The University of Virginia Women's Center has selected Cheryl D. Mills, counselor and chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as the 2010 U.Va. Distinguished Alumna. Mills is a 1987 graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences.
Mills will receive the award Feb. 19 when she is on Grounds as one of the featured speakers at U.Va.'s Women in Leadership Conference.
As a special adviser on major foreign policy challenges, Mills leads the department's interagency global hunger and food security initiative, including its diplomacy and development efforts in Haiti. As chief of staff, she provides policy and managerial support to the secretary.
From 2002 to 2009, she served as senior vice president at New York University, supervising business operations, the legal office and the offices of public safety, compliance and risk management. From 1999 to 2001, Mills was senior vice president at Oxygen Media LLC, where she oversaw public policy, communications and philanthropic and community initiatives, and co-directed the company's legal and political programming.
Before joining Oxygen, she served as deputy counsel to President Clinton, supervising 35 attorneys and staffers.
She began her career as an associate at the Washington law firm Hogan & Hartson.
Mills has worked with numerous civic and charitable organizations. She worked in 1990 with DCWorks, an innovative non-profit supporting the academic and social development of inner-city students of color. She served on the boards of the See Forever Foundation, the National Partnership for Women and Families, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund, the Jackie Robinson Foundation and the Center for American Progress.
After graduating from U.Va., Mills received her J.D. degree in 1990 from Stanford University Law School, where she was elected to the Stanford Law Review.
Since 1991, U.Va.'s Distinguished Alumna Award, presented by the Women's Center, has honored such accomplished alumnae as CBS news anchor Katie Couric; former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, now secretary of homeland security; and astronaut Kathryn Thornton, now a U.Va. engineering professor. The award was established to recognize a female graduate of the University who has demonstrated excellence, leadership and extraordinary commitment to her field, and who has used her talents as a positive force for change.