Karen Hill, president and CEO of the Harriet Tubman Home, speaks at Auburn City Hall in 2015.

The Citizen file

The head of an Auburn landmark is one of 14 people who will serve on the national Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission. 

Karen Hill, president and CEO of the Harriet Tubman Home, was appointed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand supported Hill's selection. 

Gillibrand, D-N.Y., called Hill a "champion for women's rights."

"Her dedication to preserving Harriet Tubman's legacy and the history of the Harriet Tubman Home and national historical park shows her commitment to lifting up the ideals of the Underground Railroad conductor and suffragist," she said. 

Schumer, D-N.Y., added: "Having worked side-by-side with Karen Hill for many years as we fought to establish the Harriet Tubman Home as a national historic park, I know firsthand how dedicated she is to public service. I am honored to appoint Karen to the Women's Suffrage Commission and I have no doubt she will use her role to help all Americans celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment's ratification." 

The Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission will be tasked with developing educational programs to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the U.S. ratifying the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. 

The 19th Amendment was ratified in August 1920. 

In a phone interview Tuesday, Hill said she believes her appointment was based on the work to establish the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn. Gillibrand and Schumer cosponsored legislation that led to the formal establishment of the park. 

"I think it will bring more attention to Tubman's legacy," Hill said. "I think it will bring greater attention for the need of active programming to make sure that we're embracing freedom as a fundamental element of our rights as American citizens. And it will also shine a great light, I believe, on the fact that Harriet Tubman was a part of the Freedom Church, which is what the A.M.E. Zion Church is known as." 

Hill recalled being approached about serving on the commission a few months ago. As Senate minority leader, Schumer has the power to appoint two members of the commission. Each congressional leader — House speaker, House minority leader and Senate majority leader — will appoint two members. The president will select two members, too. 

The remaining seats will be filled by the librarian of Congress, the archivist of the United States, the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and the National Park Service director. 

As of Tuesday, Hill is the lone New Yorker to be appointed to the panel. 

The legislation to establish the women's suffrage commission was included in a larger spending bill earlier this year. Gillibrand was a cosponsor of the measure to create the commission. 

The commission's initial meeting will be held no more than 30 days after the 14 members have been appointed. Following the inaugural gathering, the commission will meet at least once every six months. 

The group's main focus will be programs to celebrate the centennial. They will also encourage private entities and state and local governments to commemorate the anniversary. 

Hill said her role on the commission could bring more attention to Tubman and the sites in Auburn. The Tubman park, which will include the abolitionist's former residence and the Home for the Aged on South Street, is expected to be farther along in its development around the time the country is marking the women's suffrage centennial.

"It's a good day, and this will lead to a level of curiosity and momentum as we build toward 2020," she said. 

Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.