Covering Washington politics. From our vantage point. One day a time.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Boehner Lauds Rosa Parks Statue at US Capitol

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will host a statue dedication ceremony in honor of the late Rosa Louise Parks on Wednesday, February 27 at 11:00 A.M. ET in National Statuary Hall of the United States Capitol.

“All of the statues in this building are important, but none honor an African-American woman … that is, until next week, when Mrs. Parks takes her rightful place alongside the inventors, war heroes, freedom fighters, and doers who represent the heart of the American story. It’s another breakthrough for someone who has made so many of them possible” , said Boehner.

The unveiling of the statue will be followed by a speaking program which includes:
President Barack Obama

House Speaker John Boehner

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi

Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn

Representatives of the Rosa Parks Family and the Rosa & Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development.

Watch live video Wednesday, Feburary 27, 2013 here.

First Lady Celebrates Year Three of 'Let's Move!'

Celebrating year three of her Let's Move! initiative, First Lady Michelle Obama announces a new effort to make healthier, MyPlate Recipes easy to find and share with help of  America’s largest media companies.

Condé Nast, Hearst Magazines, Meredith, Food Network and Time, Inc. in collaboration with the Partnership for a Healthier America and USDA’s MyPlate have identified thousands of nutritious recipes that meet the guidance that supports USDA’s MyPlate, and are labeling, compiling and promoting these recipes on their most popular cooking websites, which collectively garnered 150 million views in January alone.

More than 3,000 recipes have been identified across 18 websites, and today nearly 1,000 of these recipes have been collected on a new Pinterest page associated with the effort, providing a one-stop-shop where parents, beginner home cooks and even the most experienced chefs can find and share healthier recipes.

“As a mom, I know how challenging it can be to think of new meal ideas that your kids will like and that will be good for them,” said First Lady Michelle Obama.

“This partnership takes the guess work out of finding healthier recipes and gives parents the information and the tools they need to make healthy choices for their families every day.”

Below is a list of publications participating in this collaborative effort:··         Better Homes & Gardens·······         Everyday with Rachael Ray·········         Woman’

For more information on this partnership, visit

Big Bird Joins First Lady To Get Kids Movin'

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Citizens Medal Brings Light to Veterans Needs

On February 15, 2013 President Obama awarded average citizens, doing the extraordinary for country and community, with the highest honor that a president can bestow to a citizen.

Among them was veteran Adam Burke.  Burke was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder after saving a comrade from a mortar blast in Iraq's Sunni Triangle - for which he received a Purple Heart.

Said President Obama of Adam: "When Adam Burke returned from Iraq, he had more than earned the right to just focus on himself. He had served our nation with honor; a recipient of the Purple Heart for wounds he received while rescuing a comrade from enemy fire. Because of the shrapnel that tore through his head and his legs –- when Adam came home, he came home a wounded warrior, suffering from a traumatic brain injury, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. But a few years later, Adam found himself back on the family farm, and he noticed that working the land was therapeutic. His coordination improved. He was able to put aside his cane. So he decided to use farming to help other veterans with similar injuries see similar benefits. And by starting Veterans Farm, he’s doing that every day."

While Adam was fortunate to have received recognition from a US president, many veterans aren't so lucky.  

The same afternoon we covered the Presidential Citizens Medal ceremony honoring seventeen American citizens for their act of community service, bravery, and honor - several like Adam Burke - we were also reminded that too many veterans are still slipping through the cracks, still waiting for the US to provide the help and support that is so desperately needed.

Listen to these two gentlemen as they speak outside the Department of Veterans Affairs, just a block from the White House, about the plight of US veterans.

The effort of those two men to fight for the veterans in their respective families is a good thing.

The Obama administration has instituted numerous initiatives in support of US veterans and their families. Not all can be helped, but here is just a bit of what the current administration is doing to help military personnel thus far:

American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE)
Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC),
Joining ForcesOperation Educate the Educators Initiative
Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP)

More veterans services and resources:

Useful VA Services Suicide Hotline:

VA National Call Center for Homeless
Vets Hotline: 1-877-424-3838
Veterans Benefits Administration
Hotline: 1-800-827-1000 OMI Hotline:

800-634-4782 OMITriage

See also www.

President Obama Does Radio Circuit This Week

President Obama’s interviews with Al Sharpton, Yolanda Adams and Joe Madison will air at the following times: Thursday, February 21, 2013Al Sharpton, Keeping it Real with Al Sharpton Time: 1:15pm ET; Friday, February 22, 2013 Yolanda Adams, The Yolanda Adams Morning ShowTime: 7:20 am ET; Joe Madison, The Black EagleTime: 8:15 am ET. This show airs on channel 128/The Power on Sirius XM Listen live on channel 128, The Power on Sirius XM  or WOL AM.

Listen here as the president talks sequestration, and more, with Joe Madison.

On yesterday, Tuesday, February 20, the president the President participated in interviews with local TV anchors from the Boston, Massachusetts; Charleston, South Carolina; Baltimore, Maryland; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Wichita, Kansas; San Antonio, Texas; San Francisco, California; and Honolulu, Hawaii markets.

These interviews in the Diplomatic Room as part of the “Live from the White House” interview series.

Following his State of the Union address last week, the president held a virtual interview with Google+ and Americans from around the country in a Google+ Hangout. This event was streamed live on, and the White House Google+ page.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

President Obama’s Plan for Early Education for all Americans

In his State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to expand access to high-quality preschool to every child in America.  As part of that effort, the President will propose a series of new investments that will establish a continuum of high-quality early learning for a child – beginning at birth and continuing to age 5.  By doing so, the President would invest critical resources where the proposed monetary return is the highest:  America's youngest children.

The White House is offering the following items they hope will move the president's childhood education agenda forward.

·         Provide High-Quality Preschool for Every Child:  The President is proposing a new federal-state partnership to provide all low- and moderate-income four-year old children with high-quality preschool, while also expanding these programs to reach additional children from middle class families and incentivizing full-day kindergarten policies. This investment – financed through a cost-sharing model with states – will help close America’s school readiness gap and ensure that children have the chance to enter kindergarten ready for success.

·         Grow the Supply of Effective Early Learning Opportunities for Young Children: To expand high-quality early learning opportunities in the years before preschool, the President will call for a significant investment in a new Early Head Start-Child Care partnership.  Competitive grants will support communities that expand the availability of Early Head Start and child care providers that can meet the highest standards of quality for infants and toddlers, serving children from birth through age 3.  

·         Extend and Expand Evidence-Based, Voluntary Home Visiting: Voluntary home visiting programs enable nurses, social workers, and other professionals to connect families to services and educational support that will improve a child’s health, development, and ability to learn.   President Obama has already committed $1.5 billion to expand home visitation to hundreds of thousands of America’s most vulnerable children and families across all 50 states.  The President will pursue substantial investments to expand these important programs to reach additional families in need.  The President’s Commitment to Early Education A zip code should never predetermine the quality of any child’s educational opportunities.  Yet studies show that children from low-income families are less likely to have access to high-quality early education, and less likely to enter school prepared for success.

“In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children…studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own. We know this works. So let’s do what works and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind.”
    -- President Barack Obama State of the Union, February 12,

By third grade, children from low-income families who are not reading at grade level are six times less likely to graduate from high school than students who are proficient.  Often, the high costs of private preschool and lack of public programs also narrow options for middle-class families.  High-quality early childhood education provides the foundation for all children’s success in school and helps to reduce achievement gaps.  Despite the individual and economic benefits of early education, our nation has lagged in its commitment to ensuring the provision of high quality public preschool in our children’s earliest years. The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimates that the United States ranks 28th out of 38 countries for the share of four-year olds enrolled in early childhood education.  And fewer than 3 in 10 four-year olds are enrolled in high-quality programs.   Preschool for All 
·         Improve quality and expand access to preschool, through a cost sharing partnership with all 50 states, to extend federal funds to expand high-quality public preschool to reach all low- and moderate-income four-year olds from families at or below 200% of poverty.  The U.S. Department of Education will allocate dollars to states based their share of four-year olds from low- and moderate-income families and funds would be distributed to local school districts and other partner providers to implement the program.  The proposal would include an incentive for states to broaden participation in their public preschool program for additional middle-class families, which states may choose to reach and serve in a variety of ways, such as a sliding-scale arrangement.

·         Funds to support states as they ensure that children are enrolled in high-quality programs.   In order to access federal funding, states would be required to meet quality benchmarks that are linked to better outcomes for children, which include:  o   State-level standards for early learning; o   Qualified teachers for all preschool classrooms; and o   A plan to implement comprehensive data and assessment systems. Preschool programs across the states would meet common and consistent standards for quality across all programs, including:o   Well-trained teachers, who are paid comparably to K-12 staff;o   Small class sizes and low adult to child ratios;o   A rigorous curriculum;o   Comprehensive health and related services; and o   Effective evaluation and review of programs.

·         Encouraging states to expand the availability of full-day kindergarten.  Only 6 out of 10 of America’s kindergarten students have access to a full day of learning.  In order to ensure that our kindergartners spend the time they need in school to reach rigorous benchmarks and standards, funds under this program may also be used to expand full-day kindergarten once states have provided preschool education to low- and moderate-income four year-olds.

·         Under the President’s proposal, investment in the federal Head Start program will continue to grow.  The President’s plan will maintain and build on current Head Start investments, to support a greater share of infants, toddlers, and three-year olds in America’s Head Start centers, while state preschool settings will serve a greater share of four-year olds.   Quality Early Learning for Our Youngest Children

·         The President will also launch a new Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership program, to support states and communities that expand the availability of Early Head Start and child care providers that can meet the highest standards of quality for infants and toddlers, serving children from birth through age 3.  Funds will be awarded through Early Head Start on a competitive basis to enhance and support early learning settings; provide new, full-day, comprehensive services that meet the needs of working families; and prepare children for the transition into preschool.  This strategy – combined with an expansion of publicly funded preschool education for four-year olds – will ensure a cohesive and well-aligned system of early learning for children from birth to age five.  

·         The President is proposing to expand the Administration’s evidence-based home visiting initiative, through which states are implementing voluntary programs that provide nurses, social workers, and other professionals to meet with at-risk families in their homes and connect them to assistance that impacts a child’s health, development, and ability to learn. These programs have been critical in improving maternal and child health outcomes in the early years, leaving long-lasting, positive impacts on parenting skills; children’s cognitive, language, and social-emotional development; and school readiness. This will help ensure that our most vulnerable Americans are on track from birth, and that later educational investments rest upon a strong foundation.   Building on Success President Obama has committed to a comprehensive early learning agenda for America’s children that begins at birth and provides the support and services needed to set them on a path of success in school and in life:

·         Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge: The Early Learning Challenge has rewarded 14 states that have agreed to raise the bar on the quality of their early childhood education programs, establish higher standards across programs and provide critical links with health, nutrition, mental health, and family support for our neediest children.

·         Head Start and Early Head Start: President Obama has made historic investments in the Head Start and Early Head Start programs to reach an additional 61,000 children.  Under the President’s leadership, enrollment in Early Head Start in particular has nearly doubled.  The Obama Administration has also implemented needed reform in the Head Start program by identifying lower-performing grantees and ensuring that those failing to meet new, rigorous benchmarks face new competition for continued federal funding.  

·         Supporting Federal Child Care System: The President has proposed new investments to expand access and quality in the Child Care and Development Block Grant.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Daalder Named President of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Ambassador Ivo H. Daalder, U.S. Ambassador to NATO and widely recognized national security expert, has been named president of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Lester Crown, chairman of the Council, made the announcement today, following a meeting of the Council’s Board of Directors.
Daalder, 52, will become The Chicago Council’s president effective July 1, 2013. He will succeed Marshall M. Bouton, whose 12-year presidency transformed the 90-year-old organization into a nationally prominent global affairs institution known for public education and thought leadership.
"We are delighted that Ambassador Daalder has accepted our offer to become The Chicago Council's next president, and we look forward to his arrival in Chicago this summer," Crown said. "As a thought leader, policy practitioner and visionary, Ivo is a great match for the Council. He shares the Board’s objective of increasing The Chicago Council’s stature as a foremost center of influence on opinion and policy on global affairs."
"I am excited by the opportunity to lead The Chicago Council,” said Daalder. "The Council has a historic role as the forum in Chicago for the discussion of world affairs, as I know well having spoken here in advance of the 2012 NATO summit. I look forward to building on the successes achieved under Marshall Bouton’s leadership and expanding the Council’s role as a widely respected contributor to the national and international discourse and to Chicago’s stature as a global city."
"My experience as NATO ambassador has reinforced the importance of organizations such as The Chicago Council,” Daalder added. "This is precisely the position I had hoped to find at this point in my career. Working closely with the Board, I am confident we can further increase the intellectual capital and the local, national and international visibility of The Chicago Council. My family is eager to move to Chicago, and I look forward to playing an active role in the Chicago community, as I get to know the Council’s leadership and members."
Ivo H. Daalder was appointed U.S. ambassador to NATO by President Barack Obama in May 2009. During his four-year tenure at NATO, Ambassador Daalder helped prepare President Obama and his administration for two summit meetings, including the May 2012 NATO summit in Chicago. He was deeply involved in negotiating NATO's New Strategic Concept in 2010 and in deliberations surrounding NATO's successful intervention in Libya in 2011. Ambassador Daalder previously served as director for European affairs on President Clinton's National Security Council staff from 1995 to 1997, where he was responsible for coordinating U.S. policy toward Bosnia.
Prior to being appointed to his current position, Ambassador Daalder was a senior fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution, specializing in American foreign policy, European security and transatlantic relations and national security affairs. He has a long and distinguished scholarly career, authoring twelve books, including most recently, In the Shadow of the Oval Office: Profiles of the National Security Advisers and the Presidents they Served—From JFK to George W. Bush (with I. M. Destler) and the award-winning America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy (with James M. Lindsay). He has written for the nation's leading journals and newspapers and has been a frequent commentator on national and global affairs.
Ambassador Daalder was educated at Oxford and Georgetown Universities, and received his Ph.D. in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is married to Elisa D. Harris, and they have two sons, Marc and Michael.
Daalder was chosen after an eight-month search by a committee of the Council’s Board of Directors, led by Henry S. Bienen, president emeritus of Northwestern University.
"The search committee considered dozens of excellent candidates for the position. Ambassador Daalder brings a unique range of talents to the Council," Bienen said. “In Ivo, we found a leader with impeccable policy credentials, keen intellect and the drive and ability to lead the Council at this stage in its development,” Bienen said.
Marshall M. Bouton, who announced his intention to step down as president last June, will continue to lead the Council until June 30. “I applaud the Board’s selection of Ambassador Daalder as the next president of the Council,” said Bouton, “and know it will continue to prosper under his leadership.” 
“As I look forward to the next chapter in my professional life beyond Chicago,” added Bouton, “I intend to maintain my connections to this great city and to the many friends and colleagues here who have welcomed me and my wife so warmly through the years.”
About The Chicago Council on Global Affairs
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, founded in 1922, is one of the oldest and most prominent international affairs organizations in the United States. Independent and nonpartisan, The Chicago Council is committed to influencing the discourse on global issues through contributions to opinion and policy formulation, leadership dialogue, and public learning. Learn more at and follow @ChicagoCouncil for updates.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Guest List for the First Lady’s Box State of the Union Address

Mrs. Obama's guest list for tonight's State of the Union Address includes Dr. Jill Biden, Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President.

The following individuals will be seated in the box with the First Lady and Dr. Biden at the State of the Union Address:

Sergeant Sheena Adams (Vista, CA)Team Advisor & Lead Instructor, Female Engagement TeamA native of Kauai, Hawaii, Sergeant Adams joined the Marine Corps in 2003 and attended recruit training in Parris Island, S.C. In 2010, Sergeant Adams joined the Female Engagement Team (FET) and was deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan from September 2010 to April 2011 in direct support of 1st Battalion 8th Marines in Musa Qal’eh District. Sergeant Adams received her Combat Action Ribbon and Navy and Marine Corp Achievement Medal (second award) after successful completion of the deployment. In September 2011, Sergeant Adams returned to 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Advisor Training Cell, as Team Advisor/Liaison and lead FET instructor, where she re-engineered the Period of Instruction for future FETs.

Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton and Nathaniel A. Pendleton Sr. (Chicago, IL) Cleopatra and Nathaniel’s daughter Hadiya Pendleton was murdered on January 29, 2013, when she was shot and killed in Harsh Park on Chicago’s South Side. Hadiya had participated in President Obama’s public inaugural celebration on January 21, 2013. She was an honor student and band majorette at King College Prep High School. First Lady Michelle Obama attended Hadiya’s memorial service on Saturday, February 6th.

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Alan Aleman (Las Vegas, NV) DREAM Student Alan Aleman was born in Mexico City, Mexico. In high school, Alan watched his friends come of age – driving around town with their new licenses and earning some extra cash from their summer jobs at the mall. Although Alan knew he could not do those things because of his immigration status, he was determined to get a good education. Last year, when Alan heard the news that the Obama Administration was going to provide Deferred Action for undocumented youth like him to emerge from the shadows, he was one of the first to sign up. Alan was among the first people in Nevada to get approved. In that moment, Alan said, “I felt the fear vanish. I felt accepted.” Today, Alan is in his second year at the College of Southern Nevada. He’s studying to become a doctor and he hopes to join the Air Force. Alan is currently working at Hermandad Mexicana, where he is in charge of final review for DACA applications.

Haile Thomas (Tucson, AZ) Let’s Move! Champion Haile Thomas is a 12 year-old Youth Advisory Board member with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. She is Co-Founder/Director of the HAPPY Organization, an Arizona nonprofit dedicated to improving the health and wellness of youth through education, outreach, and advocacy about proper nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices. Haile hosts an annual H.E.A.L. (healthy eating, active lifestyle) Festival on Global Youth Service Day in Tucson. She created the Healthy Girl Adventures Club to inspire girls to embrace healthy habits, and produces online cooking videos aimed at encouraging kids to get cooking. Haile is also the Youth Spokesperson and Jr. Chef Consultant for Hyatt Hotels.

Desiline Victor (Miami, FL) Desiline Victor, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Haiti and retired farmworker, is 102 years old. On October 28, the first Sunday of early voting in Florida, Desiline went to vote at her polling place, a local library. When she arrived at 10:00 a.m., wait times were up to six hours. Determined to vote, she stood in line for three hours, until 1:00 p.m. After citizen advocates complained that the elderly woman was struggling on her feet, a poll worker asked Desiline to come back at a later time. On Desiline’s second visit that evening, she was finally able to cast her ballot. When she emerged from the building with her “I Voted” sticker, the crowd of thousands of waiting voters erupted into applause. Several voters remarked that the lines were long, and they needed to get home, but because of Desiline they would continue to stand and wait. Desiline resides in North Miami, where she is lovingly known as “Granny” among the city’s Haitian community. A spirited and independent centenarian, she enjoys attending church services and cooking her own meals.

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Jack Andraka (Crownsville, MD)Winner of the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering FairJack Andraka, 16, of North County High School, was awarded first place for his new method to detect pancreatic cancer at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2012, a program of Society for Science & the Public. Motivated by the death of his uncle due to pancreatic cancer, Jack created a simple dip-stick sensor based on diabetic test paper to test blood or urine to determine whether or not a patient has early-stage pancreatic cancer. His study resulted in over 90 percent accuracy and showed his patent-pending sensor to be 28 times faster, 28 times less expensive and over 100 times more sensitive than current tests. President Obama strongly believes that we need more students like Jack who are passionate about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and has hosted two White House Science Fairs to celebrate students participating in such competitions.

Susan Bumgarner (Norman, OK) Early Childhood EducatorSusan Bumgarner's home state of Oklahoma is a national leader in providing access to high quality preschool for all children, and she has been an early educator in the Oklahoma system for more than twenty years. Susan was educated at the University of Oklahoma and influenced by family members who taught and studied there. Susan has written curriculum, trained Head Start teachers, taught infants and toddlers, and prepared parents by teaching Early Birds readiness class. In 1992 Susan began teaching pre-kindergarten at what is now Wilson Arts Integration Elementary School, a public school. “My work is enthralling and my students are amazing, creative, intelligent people,” she said. “It is an honor to facilitate their playful transition into the formal world of learning.”

Deb Carey (New Glarus, WI)Small Business Owner, New Glarus Brewing Company Deborah Carey’s decision to start New Glarus Brewing Company was rooted in doing what was best for her family. As she worked on a business plan, her husband Dan, a master brewer, gathered the materials, grains and equipment needed for start-up. In 1993 they negotiated to rent a warehouse in New Glarus, exchanging the lease for stock in the New Glarus Brewing Company. They sold their home and raised $40,000 in seed money, but still needed more funding. Deborah pitched her story to local newspapers, and the media attention brought $200,000 from investors. In the early days, the couple worked hard to establish the brewery’s reputation for consistent quality beers and developed a very loyal customer base. Today, New Glarus Brewing Company has grown to 50 full-time employees, and registered growth in profits of 123 percent from 2007 to 2009, becoming Wisconsin’s number one micro-brewery relative to sales volume.

Sergeant Carlos Evans, USMC (Cameron, NC)Wounded Warrior Sergeant Evans, born in Puerto Rico, was on his fourth overseas deployment when he sustained injuries in Afghanistan that resulted in the loss of both of his legs and his left hand. Recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center, Sergeant Evans met the First Lady and later visited the White House for a Wounded Warrior Tour. At that time, the President signed his prosthetic arm. He credits the support he has received from private organizations to the First Lady and Dr. Biden’s efforts in Joining Forces. In 2012, he received a custom home from Operation Coming Home and now resides in North Carolina with his wife and two young daughters.

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Tim Cook (Cupertino, CA) CEO of Apple
Before being named CEO in August 2011, Tim was Apple's Chief Operating Officer and was responsible for all of the company’s worldwide sales and operations, including end-to-end management of Apple’s supply chain, sales activities, and service and support in all markets and countries. He also headed Apple’s Macintosh division and played a key role in the continued development of strategic reseller and supplier relationships, ensuring flexibility in response to an increasingly demanding marketplace.  Prior to joining Apple, Tim was vice president of Corporate Materials for Compaq and was responsible for procuring and managing all of Compaq’s product inventory. Previous to his work at Compaq, Tim was the chief operating officer of the Reseller Division at Intelligent Electronics. Tim also spent 12 years with IBM, most recently as director of North American Fulfillment where he led manufacturing and distribution functions for IBM’s Personal Computer Company in North and Latin America. Tim earned an M.B.A. from Duke University, where he was a Fuqua Scholar, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Auburn University.

Menchu de Luna Sanchez (Secaucus, NJ)Registered Nurse, NYU Langone Medical Center When Hurricane Sandy cut the power at NYU Langone Medical Center, Menchu Sanchez, a Registered Nurse, devised a plan to transport twenty at-risk infants to intensive care units around the city. She organized the nurses and doctors to carefully carry the babies down eight flights of stairs with only cell phones to light the way. Even as Menchu’s own home was flooding, she thought only of protecting the babies in her care. Menchu was born, raised, and educated in the Philippines and she immigrated to the United States in the 1980s. She has worked as a nurse in New York for more than 25 years, and has been at NYU since 2010. Menchu currently lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children, both of whom are in college.

Bobak Ferdowsi (Pasadena, CA)Flight Director, Mars Curiosity RoverBobak Ferdowsi, aka NASA’s “Mohawk Guy,” is a member of the Mars Curiosity rover team at NASA and Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. After the successful landing of the Curiosity rover in August 2012, President Obama called to congratulate the team on their success, and singled out Bobak for his unique haircut that captured the imagination of millions of people around the world. The Curiosity rover is a car-sized robot equipped with a laser, chemistry set, and drill for assessing whether Mars ever had an environment able to support small life forms. Bobak is an Iranian-American and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professional who, in addition to his inspiring day-to-day work on the Mars Curiosity mission, volunteers as a FIRST robotics mentor to get more boys and girls excited about STEM education.

Bradley Henning (Louisville, KY)Machinist, Atlas Machine and Supply. Bradley Henning’s high school has one of the best machining programs in Kentucky. He got hooked on machining in his sophomore year, and by the time he graduated, Bradley had taken enough vocational classes to get hired as a full-time apprentice with Atlas Machine and Supply in Louisville, Kentucky. For the past four years, Bradley has worked under a veteran machinist and is taking additional classes to earn his full certification. Today, at 23, he is a card-carrying Journeyman Machinist at Atlas, and responsible for mentoring the next generation of apprentices. Bradley is committed to a career in manufacturing and sees a bright future ahead. “This is going to be my lifelong career,” he said. “I come in every day with a smile on my face. I learn something new every day…I love that.”

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Tracey Hepner (Arlington, VA) Co-Founder, Military Partners and Families Coalition Tracey is a co-founder of the Military Partners and Families Coalition (MPFC), which provides support, resources, education, and advocacy for LGBT military partners and their families. Outside of her work with MPFC, Tracey works full time for the Department of Homeland Security as a Master Behavior Detection Officer. She is married to the first openly gay or lesbian general officer in the military, Army Brigadier General Tammy Smith.

Peter Hudson (Evergreen, CO)Co-Founder and CEO, iTriage Dr. Peter Hudson, the co-founder and CEO of iTriage, is a physician and entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience founding and growing healthcare-related businesses. His focus has been on creating efficiencies within the healthcare delivery system, and empowering healthcare consumers with technology. Using open government data, Dr. Hudson launched iTriage in 2009, a company focused on prompting citizens to actively engage in their own healthcare. Through the app, an example of government inspired innovation, smartphone users can locate nearby providers based on their symptoms, make appointments, store their personal health records, save medication refill reminders, and learn about thousands of medications, diseases and procedures.

Governor John Kitzhaber (D-OR)Governor John Kitzhaber has built on his experience as a former emergency room doctor to transform health care delivery in Oregon. Now in his third term, Governor Kitzhaber is working with the Obama administration to scale up innovative models that show how government can do more with less. These performance partnerships, which emphasize federal flexibility and local accountability, are key to achieving improved health care outcomes and efficiencies, better results for our students and building the infrastructure we'll need to unleash the 21st century economy.

Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers (Avondale, AZ) Marie Lopez Rogers served on the Avondale City Council for 14 years before being elected as the city’s first Latina Mayor in 2006. Growing up in migrant farm labor camps and picking cotton alongside her parents in fields where her City Hall now stands, Mayor Rogers never imagined that she would be guiding the transformation of the region. Mayor Rogers currently serves as Chair of the Maricopa Association of Governments. In Dec. 2012, she was named president of the National League of Cities, an organization dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. She and her husband Ed have been married for 43 years and have three children and six grandchildren.

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Amanda E. McMillan (Jackson, MS)Pay Discrimination Victim For a number of years Amanda McMillan worked as a secretary for the owner of a Forrest City Grocery Company. She was doing many of the same duties as male salespeople, but at lower pay. Despite repeatedly asking to be officially promoted to the better and higher-paying job in sales, she was told by the company that the job of a salesman was too dangerous for a woman, and that she would not be a good mother if she were on the road meeting customers. With the help of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), she sued the company for sex discrimination. The lawsuit charged that Forrest City Grocery denied sales positions to an employee because she was a woman and paid McMillan less than men doing the same work. When asked why she has pursued the case, McMillan said, “I’m doing this because it was wrong and I could never look my girls in the face and then tell them they live in America and could be anything they wanted to be.”As a result of the suit, Forrest City Grocery agreed to pay $125,000 in monetary damages and agreed to disseminate employment policies to employees and provide ongoing training for management on sex discrimination. Amanda, a mother of three, currently lives in Jackson, MS.

Lee Maxwell (Wilton, IA)Graduate, Kirkwood Community College Wind Technician Program In 2012, Lee Maxwell graduated from Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He gained twenty six separate certifications in everything from reading blueprints to driving forklifts. Today, he’s responsible for turning on the power for new wind turbines that are being built all around the country. Kirkwood started its wind technician training program three years ago in partnership with Iowa-based Clipper Windpower, combining an industry-based curriculum and donated equipment to give students the hands-on experience they need to succeed.Lieutenant Brian Murphy (Oak Creek, WI)

Lieutenant Brian Murphy was the first police officer to arrive at the scene of the tragic Sikh temple shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin last August. Lt. Murphy directly confronted the shooter, and took fifteen bullets to his head, neck, and body before the rest of the police force arrived. When his fellow officers moved to assist him, he waved them off and told them to protect the threatened citizens who remained in the temple. When asked how he was able to respond with such bravery, Lt. Murphy responded, “That’s just the way we’re made.” Today, Lt. Murphy is on medical leave from the force and still recovering from his injuries. Lt. Murphy has served as a police officer for more than twenty years and previously served in the Marine Corps and the United National security force. He lives with his wife and children in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

Lisa Richards (Arlington, VA) #My2K Participant Lisa Richards, a single mom, was one of thousands of Americans who shared stories about what paying $2,200 more in taxes would mean for her family by using #My2K. She wrote, “It's 20 weeks of groceries, two years worth of gasoline, 1/3 of a new roof (which I need), six months of utilities.” With the passage of the middle class tax cuts at the beginning of the year, Lisa and millions of Americans like her did not see did not see an income tax increase. Born in Philadelphia and raised in New York and Dallas, Lisa has called the Washington, DC area home for more than 25 years. She now lives in Arlington, Virginia with her seven-year-old daughter working freelance and contract work for a variety of website clients.

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Kaitlin Roig (Greenwich, CT)1st Grade Teacher, Sandy Hook Elementary School Kaitlin Roig has taught first grade for six years at Sandy Hook Elementary, and has always had a passion for education and working with children. She attended and received her Master’s degree from the NEAG School of Education at the University of Connecticut, where she was a member of the Order of Omega Honor Society, The Historical Honor Society, and the NEAG honor society. In addition to her teaching, Kaitlin also started a running club called Marathon Mondays for third and fourth grade students at Sandy Hook Elementary. She will be running the New York City Marathon this year.

Abby Schanfield (Minneapolis, MN)ACA Beneficiary Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Abby would have lost coverage upon turning 21 and would not have been able to obtain care due to her several pre-existing conditions. Abby is a member of TakeAction Minnesota’s healthcare team, a grassroots organization that advocates for progressive policies ranging from health care to economic reform. Abby was influenced by her experiences growing up with a chronic illness, and the privileges that come with being insured. A recent graduate of the University of Minnesota, Abby hopes to work in public policy, focusing on women’s and community health.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

President Obama and Kenya

President Obama's Message to the People of Kenya

Whether born there, or not, President Obama has been said to have strong ties to the African country of Kenya, the place where is father was born, and where Obama's brother and grandmother still live.

The president speaks, via video, to the people of Kenya on their upcoming March election advising them to put aside tribal and ethnic differences; reject intimidation and violence; address electoral disputes through Kenya’s courts, rather than on the streets; and to come together as a nation on the 50th anniversary of Kenyan independence.

Per the White House "upcoming elections are a historic opportunity for Kenyans to stand together, as a nation, for peace and progress, and for the rule of law."

From the White House blog: "Kenyans have made remarkable progress since the devastating violence that followed the elections five years ago. Lives and communities have been rebuilt, the economy has rebounded, and Kenyans have peacefully stood together to pass a historic constitution and advance important political reforms. While the international community has assisted these efforts, the Kenyan people have stood together to solidify the rule of law and put Kenya on a path to greater prosperity."

The United States established diplomatic relations with Kenya in 1964, following its December 1963 independence from the United Kingdom.

Says the president. "The eyes of the world will be on Kenya this March, and the United States stands with the Kenyan people during this historic moment."

Reaffirming US-Kenyan relations, said the president, "You will continue to have a strong friend and partner in the United States of America.”

Fact Sheet: US-Kenya Relations