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

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

President Obama Meets With Civil Rights Leaders

By Valerie Jarrett |
Yesterday, President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez met with civil rights leaders, and state and local elected officials at the White House to discuss how to safeguard every eligible American’s right to vote in light of the recent Supreme Court decision on Shelby County vs. Holder.

President Barack Obama meets with Civil Rights Leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the
White House, July 29, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
The Supreme Court’s decision invalidating one of the Voting Rights Act’s core provisions, upsets decades of well-established practices that help make sure voting is fair, especially in places where voting discrimination has been historically prevalent.
President Obama acknowledged that for nearly 50 years, the Voting Rights Act has helped secure the right to vote for millions of Americans, and expressed deep disappointment about the recent decision.  He asked the leaders in the room for their ideas on how to strengthen voting rights, and also encouraged them to continue educating their communities on the Voting Rights Act, and how to exercise voting rights.
We’ve seen much progress towards guaranteeing every American the right to vote.  But, as the Supreme Court recognized, voting discrimination still exists.  And while the decision is a setback, it doesn’t represent the end of either our efforts to end voting discrimination, or our basic right to vote.
Since the decision, President Obama has called on Congress to pass legislation to ensure every American has equal access to the polls. The Voting Rights Act has been reauthorized repeatedly by wide bipartisan margins in Congress, and signed into law by Republican presidents.  In addition, every single American should have an interest in ensuring that every eligible American is able to exercise his or her right to vote. So we remain hopeful that we will find a legislative solution to ensure a fair, and equal voting process.
Yesterday’s meeting was another step forward to protect the vote, and we will continue to do everything in our power to secure this most basic right for all Americans.
Yesterday’s participants included:
•Barbara Arnwine, President & Executive Director, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
•Napoleon Bracy, Alabama State Representative
•Roslyn Brock, Chairman,  National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Board of Directors
•John Echohawk, Executive Director, Native American Rights Fund
•Margaret Fung, Executive Director, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
•Wade Henderson, President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
•Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
•Trey Martinez Fischer, Texas State Representative
•Marc Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League
•Mee Moua, President and Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice
•Janet Murguia, President & CEO, National Council of La Raza
•Laura Murphy, Director, American Civil Liberties Union
•Kasim Reed, Mayor of Atlanta
•Thomas Saenz, President & General Counsel, The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
•Al Sharpton, President & Founder, National Action Network
•Calvin Smyre, Georgia State Representative
•Alan Williams, Florida State Representative

Obama Administration Fact Sheet: A Better Bargain for the Middle Class: Jobs

From the White House.

One of the cornerstones of the President’s plan to create a better bargain for the middle class is to ensure that every American who is willing to work for it will have the opportunity for a good job that pays good wages. In today’s speech, the President laid out an idea that both parties should be able to support to create jobs: a plan that simplifies the tax code for our businesses and gives working families a better deal. 
Our current tax code is broken and too complex, with businesses that play by the rules paying a 35% tax rate while many corporations that can hire hundreds of lawyers pay virtually no taxes at all. That is why the President has called for a revenue-neutral simplification of our business tax code to eliminate loopholes that encourage companies to ship jobs overseas and establishes a top tax rate of 28%. Under the President’s proposal, some businesses would pay less, some corporations would pay more, but everyone would pay their fair share. But if we’re going to give businesses a better deal, we should give the people who work there a better deal too. Today, the President is calling for a pro-growth tax reform and jobs package that would be fully offset using one-time revenues raised as we transition to a new business tax system. The transition revenue would support much-needed investments such as modernizing our infrastructure; creating new manufacturing hubs; and training our workers with the skills they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow. At the same time, President Obama remains committed to pursuing a long-term deficit reduction deal that includes revenue-raising individual tax reform and a balanced approach to replacing the damaging sequester.
The bottom line is that the President will work with Republicans on a package to simplify our business tax code so long as it includes real investments to help restore middle class security, create jobs and grow the economy.
Summary of the Pro-Growth Tax Reform and Jobs Package
v  Simplify the Tax Code for Businesses to Create Jobs and Economic Growth: The President has put forward a framework for simplifying the corporate tax code to encourage job creation here at home – without adding a dime to the deficit:
Ø  Eliminating Loopholes While Lowering the Top Rate to No Higher than 28%
Ø  Simplifying Tax Filing and Increasing Incentives to Invest for Small Businesses
Ø  A Manufacturing Tax Rate No Higher Than 25%
Ø  Removing Incentives to Locate Overseas
v  A Broader Package to Support Middle Class Jobs: The President believes we can design a broader growth and jobs package without adding a penny to the deficit by, for example, using one-time funds raised as we transition to a new tax system to support investments like:
Ø  Rebuilding American Infrastructure:
-   Immediate Infrastructure Investments With a “Fix It First” Focus
-   A “Rebuild America Partnership” to Leverage Private Sector Funds
-   “America Fast Forward” Bonds – Including for Modernized Schools
Ø  Creating 45 New Manufacturing Innovation Institutes Over 10 Years
Ø  Investing in Community Colleges to Train Workers for Jobs of the Future
v  New Executive Actions on Jobs: In addition to the package above, President Obama announced new executive actions to support jobs:
Ø  Building A Competitive Edge for Foreign Investment Through An Expanded SelectUSA
Ø  Call to Action on Public-Private Efforts to Get the Long-Term Unemployed Back to Work

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Father of Trayvon Martin Testifies on Capitol Hill

Tracy Martin, the father of young, murder victim, Trayvon Martin testified on Capitol Hill pledging to not give up on getting justice for his son.

"I think, to a man, the greatest gift from a woman is son. And to have that son taken away from you when you've molded him into becoming an upstanding citizen of this country, it's heart wrenching and something that you can never get over."

Mr. Martin said his son was his hero.

Mr. Martin spoke on Capitol Hill as part of a forum titled "The Status of Black Males: Ensuring Our Boys Mature Into Strong Men", created by the Congressional Black Caucus. The forum was lead by Sen. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and included Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), author and professor Micheal Eric Dyson, and former NAACP president Kwiesi Mfume.

Said Ms. Norton, “The issues are spread across the spectrum of the life of Black males in America today – clothed in stereotypes from their years as boys, as youths, and as men.  We seek a society that does not define Black men and boys, but allows African American males the opportunity to define themselves as individuals. Today, Trayvon helps the Caucus bring Black men and boys to center stage.”

The CBC is a bi-partisan congressional organization. Their motto is "We envision a world in which the Black community is free of all disparities and able to contribute fully to advancing the common good."

Watch today's forum in its entirety discussion here.

Jesse Jackson calls for release of Marissa Alexander, victim of Florida's stand your ground law.

Said Jackson, "This is such a classic expression of how subjective the Stand Your Ground laws are. One guy murders a man in cold blood and he’s walking free; [a] woman shoots to defend herself from an aggressive husband […] and she’s serving 20 years in jail.”

Black Male Accomplishment:  Young Twins Are Valedictorians

Statement by the President on Student Loans

President Obama spoke today at Knox College in Chicago urging Congress not to raise the cost of student loans.
The administration is also plans to work with colleges to encourage universities to keep the costs of higher education down.
Said the president, "If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much ignorance costs in the 21st century."
In a 21st century society, having only a high school education doesn't always garner a higher paying job (unless you become an entrepreneur).  For those seeking a higher education, help with college tuition can be a quite daunting.
In an act of bipartisan accomplishment Congress, today, came to a decision that would keep college loans rates to a minimum.
"A better bargain for the middle class means making a college education available to every single American willing to work for it", said the president.
"That’s why I applaud the wide bipartisan majority of Senators who passed a bill to cut rates on nearly all new federal student loans, rolling back a July 1st rate hike and saving undergraduates an average of more than $1,500 on loans they take out this year."
Adding, "This compromise is a major victory for our nation’s students.  It meets the key principles I laid out from the start: it locks in low rates next year, and it doesn’t overcharge students to pay down the deficit.  I urge the House to pass this bill so that I can sign it into law right away, and I hope both parties build on this progress by taking even more steps to bring down soaring costs and keep a good education – a cornerstone of what it means to be middle class – within reach for working families."
With the all college semester just around the corner, this is welcoming news for college bound students around the nation.

Friday, July 19, 2013

In Case You Missed It: President Obama speaks on Zimmerman verdict

President Obama, in a Friday afternoon daily press briefing shocker, stood at the podium and finally spoke to America about the George Zimmerman verdict.

The president spoke to the history of disparity in the justice system, as it relates to African Americans,  and how African Americans are treated in society as a whole.  Speaking on a personal note he said he, too, had been profiled as a young African American male.

He also stated that he "could have been Trayvon Martin some thirty years ago."

It was time for the president to speak out on this issue that has Americans taking yet another look at race in this country.

On why African Americans feel as they do about the verdict, the president said, "African Americans have a set of experiences and history [in this country] that doesn't go away."

And he is right.

Question, again, continues to be, how do we make it go away?

The president (and we agree) doesn't believe having talks and town halls on race is the issue, but thinks the laws need to be looked at and reviewed.

Let's start looking, reviewing, and changing them.


Whites still uncomfortable with the term Black, and Black people.

A future doctor says, "I Could Have Been Trayvon Martin".

First Lady Michelle Obama Praises Chicago's South Side Youth

Chicago Based Internship Program Changes Lives of Youth

First Lady Michelle Obama is as passionate about the future of America's youth, as she is about the future of her own two daughters, Sasha and Malia.
You can hear that passion each time she speaks to young people about overcoming personal circumstances and embracing possibilities and opportunities to obtain a brighter future. 

Speaking with graduates of the Urban Alliance program of Chicago
 Mrs. Obama shows her passion for youth education (and her shapely legs).
That passion could be felt yesterday as she spoke in Chicago to a group of students of Urban Alliance, a year-long career education and employment program for under served high school seniors.  UA enriches students’ lives through paid internships, formal training, and mentoring.

Chicago, along with other major U.S. cities has been severely plagued by youth gun violence, violence that in one weekend alone this summer, killed nearly 70 youth.
Said the first lady, "So, this is a very special program.  And I wanted to be here because I want all the business leaders and community leaders around the country to understand that this is part of the answer.  Programs like these are the answer in so many ways to stemming the tide of violence for kids in so many communities, giving them an opportunity to envision a world outside of gang banging and hanging on the streets, dropping out.  You have to be able to envision a different life for yourself, right, to know what’s out there, to know what’s going on downtown in order to know what you want to work for."
The first lady praised the program, completing its year-long session, for their efforts and said that the Chicago chapter is the blueprint for other programs across the country.
"You all are the models for what we could see in cities all across this nation", Mrs. Obama added.
UA is the brain child Amy Rule, the wife of Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel, both present for the event.  The organization is now seeking partners in the Northern Virginia area to assist with their mission.
If you would like to participate please visit


Stephen Oneal, III, a Walgreens Intern, Shares How UA Changed His Life

MR. O’NEILL:  "... where I come from, a lot of Black men are looked down upon as we won’t make it in life; all we want to do is run the streets and sell drugs.  Well, that is completely wrong.  I’m proud to say that I graduated on time from Percy L. Julian High School.
 During my internship at the Walgreens Corporation, through the Urban Alliance program, I’ve learned many, many very important things.  The first thing that I learned was how to dress myself professionally.  Someone -- okay, a lot of people say not to judge a book by its cover, but as I walk through this room dressed as a young business African American professional, I was treated and respected as one. 
The second thing that I learned was punctuality.  Someone who is not on time is not dependable, and someone who is not dependable is otherwise expendable, because time and presentations wait for no one. 
The third thing that I learned was communication.  Someone who is honestly sick can lose out on a good job and great career opportunities just because they didn’t inform their superiors that they were sick. 
During my school year, I had the pleasure of working from 2:00 to 5:00, making $8.25 an hour, working four days a week.  But now, I’m proud to say through blood, sweat and tears and performance evaluations, I’m now making $10 an hour working from 9:00 to 5:00, four days a week. 
Before the Urban Alliance program, I didn’t have any plans to go to college or I didn’t really know what I wanted to do in life.  But now, I’m proud to say that I will be attending Malcolm X College to be certified as an emergency medical technician so that I can become a firefighter.   The two things that encouraged me to become a firefighter is, one, I want to be able to support my family, and two, I wanted to choose a career where I knew that my son would be proud of his father for going into it.
Before the Urban Alliance program came into my life, I really didn’t know what I was going to do, though.  I’ve seen a lot of kids go down a different route.  Living in this city and the bad neighborhoods that we all live in, it’s hard to keep our minds focused on the good things.  That’s why I thank God for the Urban Alliance program and my program coordinator, Ricardo Hernandez, and my mentor at the Walgreens Corporation, Samantha Ogborn, because those two people have instilled in me that only through education can I attain my future, and that I can always do better than even my best. 
I thank God for the program and these people because without them, I don’t believe that I would be the man that I am before you, and I believe what they’ve done for me, they can do for anyone in this nation."

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Points of Light Recipients Shine Bright At White House

Points of Light, created by former president George W. Bush, mobilizes millions of people to take action that is changing the world and recognizes individuals who are making a difference through service and volunteerism.  

Through four innovative and dynamic enterprises:  HandsOn Network, generationOn, AmeriCorps Alums, and Points of Light Corporate Institute, Points of Light helps put people at the center of transforming their communities.

"And today, thanks to those programs and others like them, and thanks to the passion of leaders like President Bush and citizens who found the same passion over the years, volunteerism has gone from something some people do some of the time to something lots of people do as a regular part of their lives", said President Obama in the East Room of the White House in a ceremony that recognized Bush and recipients of the distinguished honor.

Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton received the award for their work in countries like Tanzania and here in the United States where they created  a non profit program called Outreach, which distributes free meals to hungry children worldwide. To date, the program has distributed more than 233 million meals.

The ceremony recognized young people who made a difference in their communities.  One student began an outreach program designed to aid people who needed glasses but couldn't afford them, while another youth started a college scholarship program in an effort to reach back after having received a scholarship to college, despite his early child hood challenges.

The president announced a new task force, with representatives from Cabinet agencies and other departments across the government, to invest in finding ways to "better support national service".  Areas of focus will include ways to improve schools, helping the country recover from disasters, and mentoring kids.
Said former president Bush on the occasion, "It’s like coming home for Barbara and me with the rest of you just coming to this magnificent house and being greeted by this superb hospitality, knows no bounds."

Nelson Mandela Day of Service

Monday, July 15, 2013

Post Trayon Martin Verdict: White House Press Secretary Shares Adventures With Son

In 2013, Still Two Worlds: One Black. One White.

Today's White House press briefing started out with press secretary Jay Carney telling reporters how he spent his weekend.   After telling reporters he hoped their weekend was good, he offered an unsolicited take on his own.

"Since you asked", joked Carney who described his weekend as "great" and "unbelievable", "I had a great weekend".

"I took my son to see Paul McCartney Friday night", Carney said, calling the experience "fantastic".

"It’s just a fantastic experience because he’s amazing and his songs are amazing, but to be there with an 11-year-old who also knew all the words is pretty special."

Good for you, Mr. Carney. Good for all fathers who still have their sons in their lives and can take them to baseball parks, basketball games, the movies, and Paul McCartney concerts.

For one father, and for one family, those events will never happen again.

As the world shook their heads over the weekend at a 'not guilty' verdict in the case of one George Zimmerman, the man who wantonly took the life of seventeen year old Trayvon Martin, it seemed odd listening to Carney celebrate his weekend with his son who will probably will never have to experience what young Trayvon Martin experienced.  

Carney's son will probably never be racially profiled by police officers, or wanna-be police officers, or over-zealous 'neighborhood watch men'  for just going to a nearby store for a snack and drink.   Carney's son will probably never have to experience racial injustices such as stop and frisk, driving while white; because in the world that Mr. Carney and his son live in, those things just simply don't exist, if you're white.

While some say the murder of Trayvon Martin was never racially motivated, many know in their hearts that it was indeed racially motivated - from the very beginning. 

"These thugs always get away", said Zimmerman to a 911 dispatcher who explicitly told Zimmerman not to follow Trayvon.   Zimmerman did anyway.

So, here we have a nation torn apart, yet again (by race), and mothers and fathers of African American males coming to the conclusion that America has once again shown them that their lives aren't worth anything when a man can kill you in your own neighborhood for minding your own business.

When the president suggests that the way to "honor" Travyon Benjamin Martin is to "ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this", we'd like to suggest the following:  that our legal system (such that it is) put in place laws and enforcements that make it illegal to racially profile an individual on the basis of skin color; and make it illegal to stop and frisk people on the basis of skin color; and make it illegal to give people felony records and 20 years to life in prison on the basis of skin color for trying to defend oneself by firing warning shots to ward off a would-be attacker; and make it illegal for events like the Jena 6 to happen; and make it illegal for an African American high school student to receive a felony charge just because her science project went awry; and make it illegal for employers to harass African American workers by planting nooses at places of employment; and make it illegal for old white men to shoot African American teens because he believes the teen's music was too loud.

Get the point?

At the end of the day, and in the final analysis, we all know that if Zimmerman had been African American and Martin had been white...

It's time America stopped having two different judicial systems in place: separate and unequal.

That is how we can honor every Trayvon Benjamin Martin, every Emmit Till, every Medgar Evers, and every Trayvon Martin, yet to come.

Attorney General Eric Holder on Zimmerman Verdict: Justice Must Be Done
AG Holder and President Obama petitioned to file civil charges against Zimmerman
Black Men Go To Jail - just for killing dogs; white men go free for killing African Americans
Zimmerman's MySpace Page shows he's a gangsta/hoodlum.

NEW   Justice for Darius Simmons: Killed taking out the trash by creepy, white neighbor.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

President Obama to Award 2012 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal

On Wednesday, July 10, 2013 President Obama will award the 2012 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal in the East Room.  The First Lady will also attend. 
The National Endowment for the Arts was established by the Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the Federal Government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with State arts agencies, local leaders, other Federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. The National Endowment for the Humanities was created in 1965 as an independent Federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the Nation. The Endowment brings high-quality historical and cultural experiences to large and diverse audiences in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and five territories.
The President will deliver remarks and present the awards to the following individuals and organizations:


2012 National Medal of Arts
  • Herb Alpert, Malibu, CA
  • Lin Arison, Bal Harbour, FL
  • Joan Myers Brown, Philadelphia, PA
  • Renée Fleming, New York, NY
  • Ernest J. Gaines, Oscar, LA
  • Ellsworth Kelly, Spencertown, NY
  • Tony Kushner, New York, NY
  • George Lucas, San Anslemo, CA
  • Elaine May, New York, NY
  • Laurie Olin, Philadelphia, PA
  • Allen Toussaint, New Orleans, LA
  • Washington Performing Arts Society, Washington, DC
2012 National Humanities Medal 
·         Edward L. Ayers, Henrico, VA
·         William G. Bowen, Princeton, NJ
·         Jill Ker Conway, Boston, MA
·         Natalie Zemon Davis, Toronto, CANADA
·         Frank Deford, New York, NY
·         Joan Didion, New York, NY
·         Robert Putnam¸ Cambridge, MA
·         Marilynne Robinson¸ Iowa City, IA
·         Kay Ryan, Fairfax, CA
·         Robert B. Silvers, New York, NY
·         Anna Deavere Smith¸ New York, NY
·         Camilo José Vergara, New York, NY
Below are the 2012 National Medal of Arts Citations which will be read at the ceremony:
Herb Alpert for his varied contributions to music and the fine arts. The musician behind the Tijuana Brass phenomenon and co-founder of A&M Records, which launched several storied careers, Mr. Alpert is also a philanthropist who shares the power of arts education with young people across our country.
Lin Arison for her contributions as a philanthropist and arts education advocate. Co-Founder of the National YoungArts Foundation and the New World Symphony, Ms. Arison’s work celebrates, showcases, and supports the next generation of great American artists.
Joan Myers Brown for her contributions as a dancer, choreographer, and artistic director. Founder of the Philadelphia Dance Company, Ms. Brown carved out an artistic haven for African-American dancers and choreographers to innovate, create, and share their unique visions with the national and global dance communities.
Renée Fleming for her contributions to American music. Known to many as “the people’s diva,” Ms. Fleming has captivated audiences around the world with an adventurous repertoire spanning opera and the classical tradition to jazz and contemporary pop.
Ernest J. Gaines for his contributions as an author and teacher. Drawing deeply from his childhood in the rural South, his works have shed new light on the African-American experience and given voice to those who have endured injustice.
Ellsworth Kelly for his contributions as a painter, sculptor, and printmaker. A careful observer of form, color, and the natural world, Mr. Kelly has shaped more than half a century of abstraction and remains a vital influence in American art.
Tony Kushner for his contributions to American theater and film. Whether for the stage or the silver screen, his scripts have moved audiences worldwide, marrying humor to fury, history to fantasy, and the philosophical to the personal.
George Lucas for his contributions to American cinema. By combining the art of storytelling with boundless imagination and cutting-edge techniques, Mr. Lucas has transported us to new worlds and created some of the most beloved and iconic films of all time.
Elaine May for her contributions to American comedy. With groundbreaking wit and a keen understanding of how humor can illuminate our lives, Ms. May has evoked untold joy, challenged expectations, and elevated spirits across our Nation.
Laurie Olin for his contributions as a preeminent landscape architect. Renowned for his acute sense of harmony and balance between nature and design, Mr. Olin has dedicated his energy to shaping many iconic spaces around the world and to educating new leaders in his art.
Allen Toussaint for his contributions as a composer, producer, and performer. Born and raised in New Orleans, Mr. Toussaint has built a legendary career alongside America’s finest musicians, sustaining his city’s rich tradition of rhythm and blues and lifting it to the national stage.
Washington Performing Arts Society for bringing world-class performances to our Nation’s capital. From concert-hall premieres to in-school workshops, WPAS has drawn renowned artists to the Washington community and inspired generations of young performers to follow their passions.

Below are the 2012 National Humanities Medal Citations which will be read at the ceremony:
Edward L. Ayers for his commitment to making our history as widely available and accessible as possible. Dr. Ayers’s innovations in digital humanities extend higher learning beyond campus boundaries and allow broad audiences to discover the past in new ways.
William G. Bowen for his contributions to the study of economics and his probing research on higher education in America. While his widely discussed publications have scrutinized the effects of policy, Dr. Bowen has used his leadership to put theories into practice and strive for new heights of academic excellence.
Jill Ker Conway for her contributions as a historian and trailblazing academic leader. Dr. Conway has inspired generations of scholars, and her studies of exceptional and empowered women have revealed a common drive that unites women across the globe—to create, to lead, and to excel.
Natalie Zemon Davis for her insights into the study of history and her exacting eloquence in bringing the past into focus. With vivid description and exhaustive research, her works allow us to experience life through our ancestors’ eyes and to engage truly with our history.
Frank Deford for transforming how we think about sports. A dedicated writer and storyteller, Mr. Deford has offered a consistent, compelling voice in print and on radio, reaching beyond scores and statistics to reveal the humanity woven into the games we love.
Joan Didion for her mastery of style in writing. Exploring the culture around us and exposing the depths of sorrow, Ms. Didion has produced works of startling honesty and fierce intellect, rendered personal stories universal, and illuminated the seemingly peripheral details that are central to our lives.
Robert Putnam for deepening our understanding of community in America. Examining how patterns of engagement divide and unite, Dr. Putnam’s writing and research inspire us to improve institutions that make society worth living in, and his insights challenge us to be better citizens.
Marilynne Robinson for her grace and intelligence in writing. With moral strength and lyrical clarity, Dr. Robinson’s novels and nonfiction have traced our ethical connections to people in our lives, explored the world we inhabit, and defined universal truths about what it means to be human.
Kay Ryan for her contributions as a poet and educator. A former Poet Laureate of the United States, her witty and compact verse infused with subtle wordplay, reminds us of the power of language to evoke wisdom from the ordinary.
Robert B. Silvers for offering critical perspectives on writing. As the editor and co-founder of The New York Review of Books, he has invigorated our literature with cultural and political commentary and elevated the book review to a literary art form.
Anna Deavere Smith for her portrayal of authentic American voices. Through profound performances and plays that blend theater and journalism, she has informed our understanding of social issues and conveyed a range of disparate characters.
Camilo José Vergara for his stark visual representation of American cities. By capturing images of urban settings over time, his sequences reflect the vibrant culture of our changing communities and document the enduring spirit that shines through decay.

White House Announces Nancy Hogan to Step Down; Jonathan McBride to Serve as Assistant to the President & Director of Presidential Personnel

The White House announced that Nancy Hogan will be stepping down from her position as Assistant to the President & Director of Presidential Personnel later this month. Jonathan McBride will take on the position upon her departure.
“As Director of Presidential Personnel for the last four years, Nancy Hogan has helped make sure this Administration attracts, grows and retains the most talented public servants.  More importantly, she’s made sure the American people are well-served by a group of dedicated men and women who work hard every day to uphold the public trust,” President Obama said.  “I’m grateful to Nancy for her service, and to Jonathan McBride for agreeing to take her place.  Jonathan has the judgment and the experience to help us continue to move this country forward, and I look forward to working with him in his new role.”
Nancy Hogan was appointed Director of the Presidential Personnel office in August, 2009.  Prior to accepting this position, she served as Chief of Staff for Presidential Personnel. Ms. Hogan previously worked for Obama for America, first as Northeast Political Director, then as Deputy Director for the Democratic National Convention in Denver. She concluded her service to Obama for America as Deputy Director of Battleground States. Ms. Hogan earlier served as an Advisor to Senator Tom Daschle at Alston & Bird LLP and on his Senate Leadership staff. She has also worked on several Senate campaigns and for the New York City Olympic Bid for the 2012 Games. Ms. Hogan grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and received a B.A. in Political Science from Emory University.
Jonathan McBride joined the administration as a Special Assistant to the President and the Deputy Director of the Presidential Personnel Office in August, 2009. In February, 2012 he was promoted to be a Deputy Assistant to the President. Prior to serving in the White House, Mr. McBride was the Chief Strategy Officer with Universum, a global Employer Branding company, and served as the company’s most senior consultant to companies and agencies looking to attract and recruit top talent. In 2000, Mr. McBride co-founded Jungle Media Group, an award-winning media company. Jungle’s magazines, websites, and live events served a variety of audiences including MBAs, JDs, college students, African American young professionals, and Hispanic young professionals. The content focused on the ‘career lifestyle’ and informed its readers about how to best navigate current and future career moves. Mr. McBride also worked for Goldman Sachs from 1997 to 2000 and U.S. Senator Herb Kohl from 1992 to 1995. He received his B.A. in Economics and U.S. History from Connecticut College and MBA in Finance from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a former Trustee of Connecticut College and the National Urban League.