Helen Thomas (http://helenthomas.org/) was born in Winchester, Kentucky on August 4, 1920. She was reared in Detroit, Michigan where she attended public schools, and later graduated from Wayne State University. The year after college Thomas served as a copy girl on the now defunct Washington Daily News, and joined United Press International in 1943.
For 12 years Thomas had to be at work at 5:30 a.m. to write radio news for U.P.I. She later had several beats around the federal government, including the Department of Justice, F.B.I., Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and Capitol Hill before she began covering President-elect John F. Kennedy in 1960. Thomas went to the White House in January 1961 as a member of the U.P.I. team headed by the late Merriman Smith, and was there until May 2000. In July 2000 Thomas became a columnist for the Hearst News Service - where she continues today.
During the years she covered Kennedy, Thomas was the first woman to close a presidential news conference with the traditional "Thank you, Mr. President."
Thomas served as President of the Women's National Press Club in 1959 - 60, and she was the first woman officer of the National Press Club after it opened its doors to women members for the first time in 90 years. In addition, Thomas became the first woman officer of the White House Correspondents Association in its 50 years of existence, and served as its first woman president in 1975-76. Thomas also became the first woman member of the Gridiron Club in its history, and the first woman to be elected President in 1993.
In 1968 Thomas was named the "Newspaper Woman of Washington" by the American Newspaper Woman's Club, and in 1975, she was named the "Woman of the Year" in communications by Ladies Home Journal. She has also received the Matrix Award from the Women in Communications, and the World Almanac named Helen Thomas as one of the twenty-five most influential women in America.
Thomas has received numerous honorary doctorate degrees, some of the most recent from Brown University, St. Bonaventure University, Michigan State University and the George Washington University. In addition, she has been a commencement speaker at dozens of colleges and has delivered lectures on the White House and the Presidency throughout the country.
Helen Thomas traveled around the world several times with Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton, and covered every economic summit. In February, 1972, she was the only newspaperwoman to travel with President Nixon to China during his breakthrough trip. Since then, she has been to China on many subsequent presidential visits.
Thomas continues to ask her pointed questions of President Barack Obama and his press secretary on a daily basis.
In September, 1971, Pat Nixon scooped Helen Thomas by announcing her engagement to the Associated Press' retiring White House correspondent, Douglas Cornell, at a White House party hosted by the President in honor of Cornell. The late Cornell and Thomas were married on October 16, 1971.
New in 2009! Listen Up, Mr. President, co-authored with veteran journalist Craig Crawford (http://craigcrawford.com/).
Publishers Weekly on Listen Up, Mr. President: "Helen Thomas stops asking questions and starts giving answers in this how-to guide to the American presidency . . . Her incessant questioning of power also drives home the underlying message of the book: it's a primer not, at heart, for those who would be president but for those who would elect one."
In addition to Listen Up, Mr. President, Thomas is also the author Dateline: White House, her memoir, Front Row at the White House, Thanks for the Memories, Mr. President, and Watchdogs of Democracy? about how journalism has changed.
In 2008 she released her first children's book, The Great White House Breakout. This is laugh out loud funny no matter what your age. Written with Pulitzer nominated political cartoonist Chip Bok, The Great White House Breakout is beautifully color illustrated and is sure to become a family favorite.