Meet the Faces Behind America’s 250th

America250 wants to introduce you to some of the people behind the multi-year effort to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the nation’s founding, starting with a few of the women leaders involved in planning for the semiquincentennial. Their participation shows how all Americans can be part of building a nationwide commemoration that reflects the landscape of America today.

“I join so many whose passion is critical to achieving our shared mission of designing the largest and most inclusive anniversary observance our country has ever seen,” said Chair of the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission Rosie Rios. “Together with the Commission, Foundation staff, corporate partners, private citizens, and leaders at every level of government, we are working to create a meaningful commemoration over the next three years. We want as many Americans as possible to feel like they played a role in shaping how we mark this 250th anniversary of our founding — and to see themselves represented in the stories that we tell about where America has been and where we are going.”

Learn more about the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission and America250 women leaders highlighted in the first wave of this campaign:

Rosie Rios Chair of the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission

Meet Rosie Rios: Rosie Rios is the CEO of Red River Associates, an investment management consulting firm, and co-host of Unicorn Hunters, a reality series focused on pre-IPO investments. She was appointed by President Joe Biden as Chair of America250, the United States Congressional Commission planning the 250th anniversary of the nation’s founding in 2026. She served as the 43rd Treasurer of the United States with oversight over 4,000 employees and a $5 billion budget. She also initiated and led the efforts to place a portrait of a woman on U.S. currency. Prior to her presidential appointment in Treasury, she was Managing Director of Investments for MacFarlane Partners, a $22 billion real estate investment management firm based in San Francisco. She is a graduate of Harvard University and was selected as the first Latina in Harvard’s 385-year history to have a portrait commissioned in her honor. She currently serves on the board of American Family Insurance, Ripple Labs, Inc., and Fidelity Charitable Trust. Her personal passion includes EMPOWERMENT 2026, a non-profit that highlights historical American women and women in positions of money and power. Rosie is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was honored as one of USA Today’s Women of the Century. Most recently, Rosie served on the Treasury Transition Team on behalf of President Joe Biden.

Three Questions with Rosie Rios:

  • Why did you want to join the America250 Commission?

“I remember the Bicentennial celebration in 1976 like it was yesterday. I was 11 years old and in sixth grade when we learned a number of patriotic songs that I remember to this day. I remember taking a field trip to see the Freedom Train come to Oakland where we got to see some national treasures from Washington D.C., something I would not8 have been able to see otherwise. I remember seeing the fireworks on July 4, 1976, and I never felt more proud to be an American and love this country that my parents adopted. I want my children to have that experience and feel the same.”

  • What do you want people to take away from the semiquincentennial? 

“I want as many Americans as possible to feel like they played a role in planning  this commemoration. I want as many Americans as possible to tell their stories about their ancestors, their values, and their hopes for the future. I want as many Americans as possible to feel like this is the land of opportunity all over again.”

  • What is a fun fact about yourself?

“In 2015, TOPPS made a baseball card of me following my first pitch at a home game of the Oakland A’s against the San Francisco Giants to a sold-out crowd of over 42,000 fans. My daughter, who was 15 years old at the time, trained me to throw from the mound for about three months in advance.”

Congresswoman Bonnie Watson ColemanMember of the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission and Representative for New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District

Meet Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman: Bonnie Watson Coleman, a long-time public servant and advocate for New Jersey families, was elected in 2022 to her fifth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. The first African American woman to represent New Jersey in Congress, Watson Coleman is passionate about the issues affecting working families of all backgrounds, including criminal justice reform, building an economy that works for all families rather than a wealthy few, and rebuilding infrastructure to improve this country and support job creation. She focuses on these priorities and other critical issues as a member of the House Committees on Appropriations and Homeland Security.

The daughter of legendary state legislator John S. Watson, Watson Coleman has continued a family legacy of public service, fighting for women, economically and socially disadvantaged populations, and other vulnerable groups in our society. Prior to her election, Watson Coleman served eight consecutive terms in the New Jersey General Assembly and shattered racial and gender barriers to become the first Black woman to serve as Majority Leader, and as the Chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee.

In 2016, Watson Coleman founded the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls alongside two of her colleagues, with the first caucus aimed at bringing both the tremendous challenges and incredible successes of Black women to the fore in Congress’s policy debates. Watson Coleman is an active member of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

Watson Coleman is a graduate of Thomas Edison State College, and has received honorary doctorate degrees from the College of New Jersey, Rider University, and Stockton University. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and co-chair of the Girl Scouts of America Capitol Hill Honorary Troop. She resides with her husband, William, in Ewing Township. They have three sons: William, Troy and Jared; and three grandchildren: William, Ashanee and Kamryn.

Three Questions with Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman:

    • Why did you want to join the America250 Commission?

“I was asked by fellow leaders in New Jersey to ensure the state has its proper place in the discussion on the commemoration and I wanted to work on telling the diverse stories of America.”

    • What do you want people to take away from the semiquincentennial?
      “I want people to take away a sense of pride and a new appreciation for the contributions of many of those whose stories have gone untold to this point.”

    • What is a fun fact about yourself?

“I am one of four children. I am the only girl out of three. Their nickname for me is ‘admiral’ because I’m bossy.”

Cathy GillespieMember of the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission

Meet Cathy Gillespie: Cathy Gillespie has held numerous positions in government and politics over the past 34 years including congressional chief of staff and member of the President’s Commission on White House Fellows.

She serves as co-chair of the nonpartisan educational 501 (c)(3) Constituting America with Actress Janine Turner (Northern Exposure, Friday Night Lights, Cliffhanger) — and has served in this capacity since Constituting America’s founding in 2010. Constituting America’s mission is to utilize the culture and multi-media outreach such as music, film, internet and social media, to educate, engage, and inspire America’s adults and students about the importance of the U.S. Constitution and the foundation it sets forth regarding our freedoms and rights.

Gillespie is active in a number of charitable organizations, having served on the Board of Visitors of Virginia State University, the board of Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services and the board of Bishop Ireton High School. A graduate of Texas A&M University, she is married to former Counselor to the President, Ed Gillespie. They live in Fairfax County, near George Washington’s Mt. Vernon and have three children.

Three Questions with Cathy Gillespie

  • Why did you want to join the America250 Commission?

“I remember the profound impact the 200th birthday of our country, the Bicentennial, had on me as a young teen growing up in Dallas, Texas, in 1976. The celebrations, programming and conversations around that time inspired me to want to learn more about our nation’s history, to strive to be an educated and engaged citizen, and filled me with a pride in our country that has stayed with me throughout my life. My hope is that now, 50 years later, we can inspire a new generation of Americans to come together and ignite that sense of wanting to learn more, to be involved, and to have the sense of pride that I felt almost 50 years ago.”

  • What excites you about the 250th commemoration of the founding of America? 

“The opportunity to come together as a nation and the potential for America to come together and unite again around common ideals is one of the most exciting aspects of the 250th commemoration of the founding. It’s an opportunity to rekindle excitement around what it is to be an American.”

  • What is a fun fact about yourself?

“I play the bagpipes!”

Lynn Forney YoungMember of the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission

Meet Lynn Forney Young: Lynn Forney Young has been engaged in preserving and promoting American history for decades. She has been an active member of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) for more than 40 years, recently serving as the organization’s first President General from Texas. Founded in 1890 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the DAR is a non-profit, non-political volunteer women’s service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and securing America’s future through better education for children.

Continuing her interest in historic preservation, Young serves as Chair of the Milam County Historical Commission and on the Board of the El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail Association. She and her husband, Steve, reside on their cattle ranch in Milam County, Texas, and enjoy spending time with their two children and three grandchildren.

Three Questions with Lynn Forney Young

  • Why did you want to join the America250 Commission?  

“My parents, members of the Greatest Generation, instilled in their children a duty to serve in whichever way we can to improve our community and our country. I’ve had the privilege of traveling all over and love hearing the unique stories and discovering what we have in common.”

  • What do you want people to take away from the semiquincentennial? 

“It’s important for everyone to feel included, no matter how long their family has been here. All stories are unique.”

  • What is a fun fact about yourself?

“As President General of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, I was invited to Windsor Castle to meet Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for the onset of the King’s College digitization project of the records of King George III who of course was the ruling monarch when the colonies declared their independence.”