|May 1, 2008
Elon University trustee Jeanne
Robertson, a professional speaker and humorist, came up with a special
plan to celebrate National Volunteer Week, and was rewarded with her
lifelong dream, a speaking engagement at the White House.
In line with Elon’s emphasis on volunteer service, Robertson contacted
the White House to volunteer to speak at an event to honor the 1,300
citizens who volunteer their time to supplement the White House staff,
answering correspondence and doing other duties that would otherwise
have to be handled by paid staff members.
speaking at the White House
|“When I heard about these
great volunteers, I decided that this year’s National Volunteer Week
would be a good time to let them know, in a humorous manner, that their
efforts are appreciated,” Robertson said.
She contacted the coordinator of White
House volunteers, who liked the idea, and then decided that Robertson
could use her nationally known speaking talents to entertain the
volunteers at a special gathering on April 29. Robertson spoke to the
volunteers in the auditorium at the Eisenhower Executive Office
Building, located adjacent to the West Wing of the White House.
Robertson says she was thrilled to have an opportunity to volunteer for
“Elon has been recognized as one of the nation’s top universities for
service, so it was a perfect fit for me to bring that message to our
nation’s capitol,” Robertson says.
Robertson takes pride in using family-friendly humor material, and
steers away from politics in her talks. She used material from several
other speeches to deliver a talk titled “Humor: more than an laughing
Volunteer Week (April 27 – May 3) is an annual tradition, proclaimed by
President George W. Bush and sponsored by the Points of Light & Hands On
Network and supported by USA Freedom Corps and Target. The week was
first declared by President Richard Nixon in 1974 as an annual
celebration of volunteering. Since then, every U.S. president has signed
a proclamation promoting National Volunteer Week. In honor of the week,
all Americans are encouraged to participate in a service-related
Robertson averages 80-90 presentations to corporations and associations
around the world each year. She stresses how a sense of humor can be an
integral part of one's strategy for success. Robertson has been
recognized by her peers with every top designation and honor in her
profession including the Certified Speaking Professional designation by
the National Speakers Association (NSA) in 1980 and induction into the
Speaker Hall of Fame in 1981.
She served as NSA president in 1985, and in 1989 became the first woman
to receive the Cavett Award, the organization's highest honor.
Toastmasters International named Robertson the recipient of its 1998
Golden Gavel Award, given annually to one individual for accomplishments
in leadership and communications. The North Carolina Press Association
named Robertson its 2001 North Carolinian of the Year for "her
popularity on the speaking circuit, her award-winning ways and her
representation of North Carolina."
A former Miss North Carolina and Miss Congeniality in the Miss America
pageant, Robertson is a 1967 graduate of Auburn University, and the
author of three books on humor. She has produced five DVDs in the past
nine years and can be heard daily on XM Radio's Family Comedy Channel.
Robertson and her husband, Jerry, are active member of the Phoenix
Society, supporting Elon Athletics, and made major gifts to fund
construction of Dr. Alan and Norma White Field at the new Belk Track
complex, construction of the Dr. Alan White Bell Tower, and to fund
several athletics scholarships. The Robertsons' son, Bailey "Beaver"
Bowline, is a 1989 Elon graduate.
Dan Anderson, Staff Elon