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Mignon Clyburn, Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn, Acting Chairwoman

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2013 Technology / Federal Communications Commission

Mignon Clyburn, Acting Chairwoman

After former Chairman Julius Genachowski left the FCC, Clyburn compared her position as acting chairwoman to that of a relay runner, carrying the baton through the middle leg of a race. But that doesn't mean Clyburn is without her own goals. One of her top priorities is to put a cap on charges for inmate calls, which she says can cost as much as $17 for just 15 minutes, a barrier for attorneys and family members. Clyburn helped solve that problem in South Carolina as a member of the state's Public Service Commission. Asked whether her father, Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., inspired her, she jokes: "Somewhat." But the 51-year-old also cites her grandparents as inspiration. Even though they were not financially well-off, they frequently slipped a few dollars to friends in need. That, she says, reinforced her desire to go into public service. Clyburn hails from Charleston, S.C., "a city which I love," she says. After graduating from the University of South Carolina, she became the publisher of the Coastal Times, a weekly aimed at the African-American community. In 2009, President Obama nominated her to the FCC. Clyburn gets emotional talking about joining the commission in time for her mentor Marjorie Amos-Frazier to see her assume the post. Amos-Frazier, who died in 2010, was the first African-American to serve on the South Carolina Public Service Commission and talked Clyburn into joining her. Though Amos-Frazier barely finished high school, Clyburn remembers people from all over the community asking her for advice. Plus, Clyburn says, she made "the best iced tea ever." 

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