For nearly three decades, extraordinary Americans who exemplify the ideals of our nation have been invited to join the First Lady in her viewing box for speeches and events of national importance. Her guests for the President's address to a joint session of Congress are Americans who are passionately involved in fighting for job creation to grow our economy -- business leaders, elected officials, educators, veterans and students. Use the interactive feature below to learn more about the remarkable individuals who will join First Lady Michelle Obama to hear the President's plan to create jobs now.
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First Lady Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama is the First Lady of the United States. Continuing a longstanding tradition, extraordinary Americans who exemplify the themes and ideals laid out in the President’s State of the Union Address attend the event as guests of the First Lady.
Dr. Jill Biden
Jill Biden is the wife of Vice President Biden. An educator and a proud Blue Star mom, Dr. Biden works to highlight the importance of community colleges, to raise awareness about the sacrifices made by military families, and to bring attention to women’s health issues.
Valerie B. Jarrett is a Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama. She is also the Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls and she oversees the Offices of Intergovernmental Affairs; Public Engagement; Urban Affairs; and Olympic, Paralympic, and Youth Sport.
Jeffrey R. Immelt is the ninth chairman and CEO of GE, a post he has held since September 7, 2001. Immelt currently serves as the chairman of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Immelt has been named one of the "World’s Best CEOs" three times by Barron’s, and since he began serving as chief executive officer, GE has been named "America’s Most Admired Company" in a poll conducted by Fortune magazine. Immelt is also a member of The Business Council, and he is on the board of the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Mr. Immelt earned a B.A. degree in applied mathematics from Dartmouth College in 1978 and an M.B.A. from Harvard University in 1982. He and his wife have one daughter.
Steve Case, currently chairman & CEO of Revolution LLC and chairman of the Startup America Partnership, co-founded America Online in 1985. Earlier this year at the White House, Case helped launch the Startup America Partnership, an independent private-sector coalition delivering strategic and substantive resources to help entrepreneurs start and scale companies across the U.S., in response to the President’s call to action. Case also serves as a co-chair of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and is a member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. In addition, Steve chairs the Case Foundation, which seeks to tap new technologies and entrepreneurial approaches to help strengthen the social sector.
Darlene Miller is a small business owner and CEO of Permac Industries, a precision machining company custom manufacturing precision parts for customers worldwide in virtually all industries located in Burnsville, Minnesota. Miller currently serves as a member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. She started working as a Sales Representative at Permac in 1992, became part owner in 1993 to 100% ownership of the company in 1994. Under Miller’s leadership Permac Industries was named the U.S. Chamber Small Business of the Year for the entire USA in 2008. Miller is currently a member of the U.S. Chamber Board of Directors and Advisory Council, board of directors for PMPA and MPMA (Manufacturing Trade Associations), and the Minnesota Valley Medical Manufacturers network (MEDNET), which she co-founded in 2006.
Kenneth Chenault is the Chairman and CEO of American Express Company. Ken Chenault joined American Express in September 1981 and assumed his current responsibilities as CEO and Chairman in 2001. Chenault currently serves as a member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Chenault serves on the boards of American Express and several other corporate and nonprofit organizations, including IBM, The Procter & Gamble Company, the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, the National Center on Addiction & Substance Abuse at Columbia University, the Smithsonian Institution’s Advisory Council for the National Museum of African American History & Culture, and the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation. He also is on the boards of the Partnership for New York City, The Business Council and the Business Roundtable and serves as Vice Chairman of each of these organizations.
Richard Trumka is the president of the AFL-CIO, and currently serves as a member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. A third-generation coal miner from Nemacolin, Penn., Trumka began working in the mines at age 19. Trumka worked in the mines for more than seven years, supporting himself while attending Pennsylvania State University, where earned a Bachelor of Science degree, and through Villanova University, where he received a law degree. As a member of UMWA Local 6290, he served as Chairman of the Safety Committee and became an activist in the Miners for Democracy reform movement. He was elected to the UMWA executive board in 1981 and elected international president in 1982.
Governor Martin O’Malley is currently serving his second term as governor of Maryland. He also serves as the chair of the Democratic Governors Association and co-chair of the National Governor’s Association’s Special Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety. Prior to assuming the governorship, O’Malley served on the Baltimore City Council from 1991 to 1999, was appointed assistant state’s attorney for the city of Baltimore, and then served as the Mayor of Baltimore for two terms. As Governor, O’Malley has focused on job creation by spurring innovation in all sectors of business, academia, and government. O’Malley holds a BA from Catholic University and JD from the University of Maryland. He and his wife, Katie, a District court judge have four children.
Mayor Mark Mallory
A lifelong Cincinnatian, Mallory was elected Mayor of Cincinnati in 2005 and won a second term in 2009. In 1994, he succeeded his father, Majority Floor Leader William L. Mallory, Sr., in the Ohio House of Representatives. Four years later, he moved to the Ohio Senate where he rose to the position of Assistant Minority Leader. He is the first directly-elected black Mayor of Cincinnati and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
Antonio Villaraigosa was first elected mayor in 2005, then re-elected in 2009. He is the current resident of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM). In 2008, Mayor Villaraigosa passed a sales tax increase to invest in creating 166,000 transportation jobs in Los Angeles. As president of USCM, he has led a bipartisan coalition of 165 mayors in support of an extension of the transportation reauthorization bill.
Dr. Albert Green
Dr. Green is CEO of Kent Displays, a rapidly expanding small business in Kent, Ohio, and serves on its Board of Directors. In February, Dr. Green participated in the "Winning the Future Small Business Forum" in Cleveland. Since Dr. Green took the reins of Kent Displays CEO in 2007, he has guided the company’s transition from a focus on research and development to product development and manufacturing. Under his leadership, Kent Displays successfully launched the award-winning Boogie Board LCD Writing Tablet in 2010, manufactured on the world’s only roll-to-roll LCD production line, which began operation in 2008 at the company’s headquarters in Kent, Ohio. This successful consumer product has driven a doubling of revenue and employment in the past 2 years.
Jan Heister is president and chairperson of the Board of Directors for Premier Tooling and Mfg., Inc. in Peosta, Iowa. Jan participated in a small business session during the Rural Economic Forum in Peosta, Iowa last month. Prior to joining Premier, Jan worked in hospital and clinic settings as a Registered Nurse. While working in the hospital she served as supervisor of an operating room, recovery room, and charge nurse on the medical-surgical unit. She has also worked 12 years as an office nurse in an orthopedic clinic. Jan is a graduate of The Finley Hospital School of Nursing.
Philip Maung is a small business owner and founder of Hissho Sushi, a 200-employee company headquartered in southwest Charlotte that trains sushi chefs and distributes ingredients for the food across the country. Founded 13 years ago, the company has grown consistently in the past decade, including a 62 percent increase in revenues last year. Philip Maung arrived in America with just $13 in his pocket and a dream of making a new life. In 1998, Philip and his wife Kristina pooled their finances to found the company in the family dining room. Today, Hissho Sushi is a dynamic foodservice and distribution company managing and operating more than 400 sushi bars across the U.S. Their 46,000 square foot, state-of-the-art headquarters are located in Charlotte, NC.
Gracey Ibarra, a mother of two children, is a 2009 high school graduate and has earned her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certification. Gracey enrolled in the WIA Youth Program through Inter-County Community Council, which combined education with clinical experience and led her to a career in the medical field. She currently works as a CNA in a nursing home.
Joseph Kidd, a 30 year old father, was deployed to Iraq in 2007. After he returned from Iraq, his daughter was born in January of 2009, and he was deployed again in May of 2009 as part of the 22D Marine Expeditionary Unit. Once Kidd returned, he was appointed to the Emergency Room at Camp Lejeune and later became the Leading Petty Officer. In August, Kidd was one of five veterans to eat lunch with President Obama in Cannon Falls, MN during the rural bus tour. Kidd asked the President to help with credentialing programs. The President’s staff is now actively working on the concept of a "career ready military." In late August, Kidd returned to school and studying pre-nursing.
John Raftery served in the U.S. Marine Corp with 1st Marine Division and currently serves as the president and CEO of Patriot Contractors, a construction firm, specializing in interior and exterior architectural specialties. A service-disabled, veteran-owned company founded in 2007, John has seen growth in revenues and employees each and every year of operation. Today, Patriot Contractors has 21 employees. In 2010, John’s company generated revenues that hit $2M, and he is on track to exceed $5M in 2011. John is a 2007 graduate of the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans at Syracuse University and holds a BBS from Dallas Baptist University.
Nicole Gentile, married with two children, is a third grade teacher at Marion-Sterling Elementary in Cleveland, Ohio. She is at risk of being laid off given the district’s budget situation. Thirteen of her colleagues are also at risk of being laid off.
Kelcie Fisher is currently a senior at Open High, a Blue Ribbon school located in downtown Richmond, Virginia. Open High School will be 100 years old this year and needs to be modernized. Born and raised in Richmond, Kelcie has been a part of the Richmond Public Schools family throughout her entire educational career.
Hector R. Sealey
Hector Sealey began working with Fort Myer Construction in August 2006 and continues as corporate director of safety, risk management and compliance officer for the corporation. Sealey has 18 years of safety and quality control management experience and 4 years of project management, with an overall of 30 years experience in the construction industry. Hector, along with almost a million workers, is at risk of losing his job if Congress does not act and the transportation bill expires. Hector joined President Obama in the Rose Garden when he called for a clean extension of the transportation bill last month.
Kirk Bergstrom, 43, is a project engineer with Denver Transit Partners (DTP), the consortium of investment, engineering, construction and operations and maintenance companies currently executing the $2 billion Eagle Public-Private Partnership in Denver, Colorado. The Eagle P3 Project is a new commuter railroad line that will connect Downtown Denver and Denver International Airport and also downtown with a portion of western Denver. Before the Eagle P3 Project, Kirk was going to have to leave his family and travel back-and-forth to Kansas to work on another construction project. DTP, thanks to this federally funded project, was able to give him a career close to his home.
In 2006 David Catalano co-founded Modea, a digital advertising agency in Blacksburg, VA. As president, Catalano and his executive team have grown the company 75-100% each year - eclipsing $10 million in annual revenue. Catalano has been able to maintain his home in rural Virginia and build a globally competitive company, highlighting the importance of the need to provide high speed broadband access to all parts of the country. Modea has hired over 80 creative professionals from across the country. Halfway through his senior year at Virginia Tech, Catalano put his degree on hold to co-found a product marketing agency producing content for the largest e-commerce sites on the web. After leading it to profitability in 2005, Catalano left the company to finish his Finance degree and start Modea.
Dannie and Sabrina Mangrum
Dannie Mangrum is a Maryland corrections officer and Sabrina is getting her teaching degree at Coppin State. The couple has two sons and a daughter, and is earnestly anticipating the adoption of three foster children with Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area. A tax cut would benefit their family as they are looking for ways to provide for their children and their education.
Technician Jessica T. Pickett joined Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department in April 2006 where she currently functions as a field Firefighter/Medic. Technician Pickett is actively involved with the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2068 and serves as the Chairperson of the EMS Committee. Technician Pickett was awarded the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce Certificate of Valor in 2010 for actions involving personal risk and demonstration of judgment beyond the expected performance of duties. Prior to joining the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, Technician Pickett studied Biological Sciences at The George Washington University in Washington, DC and was a George C. Marshall Scholar and Rhodes Scholarship finalist.
Marlena Clark is a graduate of Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) and a resident of Maryland. After working a number of minimum wage jobs and worrying about her future, she decided that her local community college would provide the best opportunity for a career path to success. She worked two jobs while taking courses in the Information Systems Security program, and was involved in a mentoring program focused on retaining women in IT careers. She is now a full-time systems engineer. As part of her ongoing outreach on community colleges, Dr. Biden visited Anne Arundel Community College last September to highlight the school’s workforce development programs.
Tamara Washington is a single mother, taking care of her 3 year old son Amir, in Torrance, CA. Tamara believes her hard work will enable her to provide quality healthcare and education for her son. While it has not been easy, many programs and organizations were there to help, including subsidized employment in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund, which allowed her to obtain a job that enabled her to support her son.