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

Monday, July 28, 2014

We Like This! Young African Leaders Initiative

Initiative named the Mandela Washington Fellowship For Young African Leaders

from the White House

...the President will participate in a town hall with 500 exceptional young people who participated in the inaugural Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, an initiative he announced in 2013 as part of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). President Obama first launched YALI in 2010 to support an emerging generation of African leaders as they work to drive economic growth, enhance democratic governance, and strengthen the civil society structures that will help the continent grow and prosper.  The President announced the creation of this Fellowship, which connects young African leaders to leadership training opportunities at some of America’s top universities to expand their leadership skills and knowledge, during his 2013 trip to South Africa.

President Obama speaking to young, future African leaders.   
You can watch this event live at  Photo/Politics. On Point.

During the town hall, the President will deliver remarks to announce that the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders program will be renamed in honor of former South African President Nelson Mandela.  The President will also announce new public-private partnerships to create a continuum of programs, platforms, and support for young African leaders.  These new investments will include the development of four Regional Leadership Centers in Africa, a vast array of online classes and resources, along with seed funding, mentoring, and networking opportunities.

Through YALI, the United States is investing in the next generation of African leaders, and has committed significant resources to enhance leadership skills, bolster entrepreneurship, and connect young African leaders with one another, the United States, and the American people.  Signature aspects of this expansion include:
·         The creation of four Regional Leadership Centers in Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, and South Africa. 
·         The Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders will be renamed as the “Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders” and will be doubled in size to reach 1,000 participants each year by 2016.   
·         New virtual resources and vibrant physical spaces for the YALI Network.
·         Hundreds of new entrepreneurship grants and mobile incubators, and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit will be held in sub-Saharan Africa in 2015.

Deepening Our Reach on the Continent: Regional Leadership Centers

Today, President Obama will announce the creation of four Regional Leadership Centers in Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, and South Africa.  Beginning in 2015, these Centers will improve the availability and quality of leadership training programs and professional development opportunities for young African leaders.  Each will be run as a public-private partnership, capitalizing on the energy and dynamism of the private sector, the knowledge of African and American institutions, and the programmatic and educational resources of the U.S. Government.  The Centers will focus on engaging young leaders from a wide range of organizations and backgrounds and with a diversity of experiences.  The Regional Leadership Centers will:
·         Provide Quality Leadership Training:  Centers will provide both long and short courses on leadership and issues across multiple sectors.    
·         Support Entrepreneurship:  Centers will provide entrepreneurship support services, including mentoring, technology, and access to capital.
·         Enhance Professional Networking:  Centers will offer young leaders the opportunity to connect with each other, American professionals, and experts from across the region.

More information available here.


During the president's remarks he took questions from the promising leaders of tomorrow.  

One question found the president talking about women's rights on the Continent, which translated to violence against women here at home.

Q. "How committed is the United States to promoting gender equality in Africa?"

President Obama.  "Nobody feels more strongly about this than I do. The most successful countries are the ones who treat their women well. If you are not empowering your women you are crippling your country," he said. 
The president remarked that some old traditions should be sent by the way side.

"You young people do not have to hold to old traditions," he said. "Female genital mutilation and violence against women are bad traditions that must be eliminated."

Quite a timely comment coming on the heels of the recent event surrounding the two-game suspension of Baltimore Raven Ray Rice for a domestic violence charge, and the comments by sports analyst Stephen A. Smith, who said "women should learn not to provoke men" to the point of being beat.

The president later added that, "All the men here must be just as committed to empowering women as the women are."

The audience got euphoric when the president remarked that "a strong man should not feel threatened by a strong woman."

The summit continues through Wednesday where First Lady Michelle Obama is also expected to give remarks.  The event can be seen live-streamed at

President Obama launched the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) in 2010 as a signature initiative that supports young African leaders as they work to spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across the continent. 

The first lady supports the opportunity for African youth leaders and spoke to this during her travels to the continent two years ago.

See also

Empowering Africa's Next Generation of Leaders

Friday, July 25, 2014

Remarks by First Lady Michelle Obama at a Chicago DNC event

The first lady took to the heart the successes of her husband's tenure as president of the United States during a DNC event at Chicago Waldorf Historia hotel on Thursday in hopes encouraging Democratic supporters to get out and vote in the mid-term elections this November.

In familiar wording, First Lady Obama lauded the latest employment numbers, the passing of the Affordable Care Act, jobs for veterans, and the number of children who, as a result of her own efforts with Let's Move,  are eating healthier.

She said when she's asked if she still believes in the president's slogan of "hope" and "change" she says she tells people she believes it more strongly than ever before - "because I've seen it with my own eyes".

Mrs. Obama  reminded the audience that despite her husband's accomplishments at the expense of the hard work of constituents like those in the audience, "there is still plenty of work to do", she said.

She said the November election is for the future of America's kids and that as adults "we need to be inspired for them."

"We need to pour everything we have into these elections so that they can have the opportunities they need to build the future they deserve, the first lady said.  "And if we do that, if we just keep stepping up, digging deep, and bringing others along with us, then I know that we can keep making that change we believe in.  I know we can finish what we start.  And together, we can keep building a future worthy of all of our children."

The first lady wasn't shy about asking donors to "dig deep" in their pockets while pointing out what's at stake this fall.

"Right now, we are just 17 seats away from taking back the House, but we’re just six seats away from losing the Senate -- six seats.  And we have tight governors’ races and legislative races in states across the country, races that will be won or lost by just a few thousand, a few hundred, and even a few dozen votes", she said.

Not only is voter turn out at stake, Democrats must also contend with the issue of voter fraud and voter redistricting issues, like those in Tennessee.

"So we can’t afford to just sit back and hope for the best, and then be shocked when things don’t work out our way -- we do that a lot.  We need to be engaged right from the beginning", said First Lady Obama.

Related to FLOTUS
Actress asks FLOTUS about Chicago's long food lines
Mrs. Obama encourages Americans to drink more water.  Drink up!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

President Obama and the My Brother's Keeper Initiative Town Hall

Creating structure and support for high-risk, young males.

With the support of educators, faith-based groups, government, foundations, and various businesses, the president hopes to have their support to help guide, direct, and support young Black youth, by giving them the tools needed to succeed.

Heavy hitters join the initiative.

Leaders from Silicon Valley and the Emerson Collective plan to launch a $50 million competition to redesign high schools so that young people can learn in classrooms built for the 21st century. Also on board are US mayors, the National Congress of American Indians (who are going to do the same for young Native American boys and men), The College Board, AT&T, UBS, JPMorgan, City Foundation, and Discovery Communications, who the president says, "are making big commitments of their own to help young people like you get ahead."


With the National Basketball Association's Chris Paul (who introduced the president at the start of the event) and commissioner Adam Silver in the audience, the president announced that the NBA has committed to recruiting 25,000 new mentors to work directly with educators and schools across the country.

Those interested in becoming a mentor can register on the White House mybrotherskeeper web site.

Often times reflecting on his own childhood, having been raised by a single parent, the president told the eager young crowd that he only met his father for a month. He praised single moms, and said the values his own mother had, are those "that every parent should have."

Parental values key for better parents, better children, better families.

Citing core, basic values the president gave a laundry list of values he says are inherently necessary for any parent to instill in their child, no matter the circumstances of the family structure.

"It doesn't matter if you're the mom or the dad", said President Obama, "loving your child, being responsible for your child, teaching them how to be honest, and how to be responsible for themselves, how to treat other people with kindness and respect, and work hard, "and just being there" are values that can be instilled by either the mom or the dad."

"You get as much as you put in."

The president continued to take questions from the young audience, with a focus on family and education being elements of success.

The nearly long hour long town hall event helped to get an ear about what is on the minds of young people, and to provide a presidential, and empathetic, ear.

The Town Hall took place at the Walker Jones Education Campus where students are encouraged to develop in four core areas: Knowledge, Service, Leadership, and Character. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

African American Chicagoans want to know why they are irrelevant to President Obama

We've all heard the statistics: Chicago is one of the most deadly U.S. cities.  Eighty-two people were killed in a single July 4th weekend - two weekends ago.

Again, 82 people murdered, including children and the elderly.

We all watched when the president cried on national TV when just 20 kids at Sandy hook ES where shot and killed by a single individual, Adam Lanza.  The president even remarked at a memorial service.

We watched when Obama remarked on the killing in an Aurora movie theatre that saw James Holmes shoot, and kill, 12 people.

The president has tried to increase restrictions on gun ownership, pushing for more background checks and psychiatric testing before Americans can purchase a gun, at the resistance of Congress.

Fed up with the politics, and feeling ignored, Chicagoans took to the streets in protest last Friday.

Reports indicate that American citizens staged a march and protest outside of the Chicago police department demanding action from them, and President Obama.

Protesters speak

Folks at the Chicago protest noted that the vast majority of Chicago's black kids are not criminals; they are "regular," nonviolent children. But they must live in these viοlent communities (and manage somehow to dodge the ever-flying bullets) and are showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, writes AllVoices, an online Chicago news portal. "Yet they are ignored by all levels of their own government -- especially the feds. Most black people in Chicago long ago gave up on Mayor Rahm Emanuel's police doing much more than more of the same Gestapo tactics for which Chicago is famous."

The article makes note that Chicagoans are also fed up with the Obama administration's efforts to pour money - billions - into immigration reform to help children of South America who enter the country illegally, while not giving attention to the desperate situation in America's poorest, urban areas.  

A person calling into conservative radio show host Laura Ingraham's show, where the Chicago tragedy was the topic said, “I’m living a nightmare. My whole neighborhood is so viοlent. There’s so much crime,” she explained. "...I can’t do anything, Laura! I’m trapped here.”

Read more.

Press briefing long winded on immigration reform.

Friday, July 11, 2014

FLOTUS at LULAC's Unity Convention

First, let me just say how lovely First Lady Michelle Obama looked when she spoke at the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) earlier this week, wearing a lovely summer blue and white (sleeveless, of course) flowered dress.

Mrs. Obama was on hand at New York's Hilton Hotel to remark about the importance of education, but she also spoke very briefly on the issue of immigration, saying "all these issues must be addressed at the same time."

Said the first lady, "I know that education is one of so many pressing issues on your plates right now. With a broken immigration system hurting so many of our families and neighbors, some of you may be wondering why I decided to focus on education today. But what I know from my own life experiences is that if we truly want to lift up our next generation," she continued, "we must tackle all of these issues at the same time. That is actually one of the greatest lessons of LULAC's history."

Immigration was also on the minds of those who came out to hear her husband speak in Texas this week.   While the first lady was not met with hecklers (something she doesn't do well), President Obama was repeatedly interrupted during his speech.

The president spoke to the individuals after his remarks, but as you might imagine, was not too pleased with the outbursts, even when he informed the hecklers he'd addressed their concerns.

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m sorry, what are you yelling about now?  Sit down, guys.  I’m almost done.  Come on, sit down.  I’ll talk to you afterwards, I promise.  I’ll bring you back.  I’m wrapping things up here.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I understand.  See, everybody is going to start -- I’m on your side, man.  Sit down, guys, we’ll talk about it later, I promise.

 Change. Not as easy as just shouting.

President Obama Announces New Partnership with the Private Sector to Strengthen America’s Small Businesses

 Renews the Federal Government’s QuickPay Initiative
26 Companies Committed to SupplierPay Initiative

As a part of his Year of Action, the President is using the power of his pen and phone wherever he can on behalf of the American people to create jobs and help hard-working Americans get ahead. Today, the President will announce the creation of SupplierPay, a new partnership with the private sector to strengthen small businesses by increasing their working capital, so they can grow their businesses and hire more workers. 

To launch SupplierPay, the President is bringing together 26 companies – both large and small – that have committed to the initiative.  For the larger companies, joining SupplierPay demonstrates a recognition that a healthy supply chain is good for business.  For the small business suppliers, benefiting from SupplierPay means having more capital to invest in new opportunities, new equipment, and new hiring.

President Obama, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, National Economic Council Director Jeff Zients, and Small Business Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet will host a meeting at the White House today with these businesses and their suppliers to discuss what more can be done to strengthen small businesses, building on the successes of the QuickPay program.

SupplierPay builds on the success of the Federal Government’s QuickPay initiative, which President Obama launched in 2011. QuickPay requires federal agencies to expedite payments to small business contractors with the goal of paying within 15 days.  As a result of QuickPay, we have already seen well over $1 billion in cost savings for small businesses since 2011, leading to greater investment and job creation. SupplierPay is the private sector’s equivalent, where companies have committed to pay small suppliers faster or help them get access to lower cost capital.

Also today, the President is renewing QuickPay for federal small business subcontractors, where the government pays its large contractors faster and, in return, requires them to pay their small business subcontractors faster. QuickPay for small business subcontractors, which began in 2012, was only available temporarily for many small business subcontractors.  Today’s announcement means faster payment for all small business subcontractors and even more business opportunities, more investment in small businesses, and more hiring.

The following companies have signed on to SupplierPay: 

Apple                                AT&T                          Authentix                    Cardinal Health          
Coca-Cola                         CVS                            Ericsson                       FedEx
Honda                               IBM                            Intuit                           Johnson & Johnson
Kelly Services                   Lockheed Martin        Milliken                       Molina Healthcare
Nissan                               PG&E                         Philips                          Rolls Royce    
Rothschild North America                                    Salesforce                    Textura           
Toyota                               Walgreens                  Westinghouse Electric Company

Saturday, July 5, 2014

President wears stylish jeans during 4th of July White House celebration (and other July 4th news)

When President Obama isn't wearing suits (that sometimes sag around his ankles) he likes to dress down.  Usually we see him in khakis (or dockers), or in the male version of mom jeans.

But yesterday, during the White House 4th of July celebration, we noticed something considerably different in his dress-down attire.

The Commander-in-Chief was wearing a stylish, (hip, even) pair of jeans.  Different in style, different in color; new perhaps. (Then there's always the chance it could be the same pair as these).

Anyway, take a look.  We think he upped his swag with his 'new' jeans as he greeted the nearly 1,200 military personnel and their families.  The president told those in attendance, "There is no group we'd rather spend time with on this most American of holidays than you."

President Obama wears new jeans at White House 4th of July cookout for military families.  
The yearly cookout honoring military families hosted rapper Pitbull.

'Bull posted a few proud tweets to mark the occasion.

Looks like he was well received.  As one attendee writes, "IT WAS AWESOME, THANK YOU, WOW, PIT AND THE CREW DID AN AMAZING JOB, AND LITERALLY SWEAT THERE ASS OFF!!!!!!!! "

And in case you forgot, it was also Malia Obama's birthday.   I wonder if the now 16 year-old first daughter had anything to do with this year's entertainment lineup.

Guess having the best view of the beautiful Washington DC 4th of July fireworks no longer suffices after a few years.

Honestly, though, we think these guys do it better.

Also on this 4th day of July, President Obama presided over a naturalization ceremony in the East Room of the White House.  The ceremony recognizes contributions made by foreign-born members of the U.S. Armed Forces who have earned their American citizenship by serving our country, and the contributions that immigrants from all walks of life have made to our country throughout its history. 

Twenty-five active duty service members serving in the Navy, U.S. Army, Marines, and Air Force, two veterans, one reservist and seven military spouses received their citizenship, together representing 15 countries.

The president continues to call on Congress to help change the country's current immigration laws.

“The basic idea of welcoming immigrants to our shores is central to our way of life; it is in our DNA,” he said.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Dr. Jill Biden visits Zambia

Here is a pool report on the Dr. Biden's visit to Gambia.   She is in Africa on a three-continent visit focusing on anti-gender issues and education.

This pool report comes from Perpetual Sichikwenkwe from the Times of Zambia newspaper. Her report follows, below.
Dr. Jill Biden.   Photo/ Organizing for Action website.
U.S. second lady arrives in Zambia's capital city Lusaka, for a two day official visit
At exactly 22:20 p.m. Tuesday, the U.S. Military Aircraft number 50932
carrying Dr. Jill Biden, the wife to U.S. vice president Joe, touched
down at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka, the Zambian
capital city.

Dr Biden who is on a three day visit to Africa is accompanied by
United States Agency for International Development (USAID)Administrator Rajiv Shah, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women Issues, Catherine Russell and other officials.

Dr. Biden, clad in pink and white emerged from the aircraft with her granddaughter Finnegan Biden and waved at the U.S. Zambia mission  and
Zambian government officials that were at hand to welcome her. She immediately jumped in a waiting U.S. official vehicle to her hotel for rest in readiness for a busy first official visit day.

Wednesday, July 2 was full of activities around Lusaka as  Dr. Biden
and her delegation met with Zambian's second lady, Charlotte Scott,Zambian minister of Gender and Child Development Inonge Wina, minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs, professor Nkandu Luo and Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health Emerine Kabanshi at Government house.
They discussed matters relating to women's and girls' leadership,education, and empowerment.
Zambia is one of the countries in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) with fewer women in decision making positions while many women and girls lack empowerment in education and other sectors.

While at Government House, Dr. Biden witnessed the signing ceremony between Dr. Shah and Ms. Wina to mark the beginning of a U.S.-Zambia collaborative internship and mentoring program dubbed "women at work".

The program is aimed at enhancing the leadership skills needed for
young women to enter into mid- and senior -leadership public, private
and civil society positions throughout Zambia.

Dr. Biden who is expected to also Visit the Democratic Republic of
Congo (DRC) and Sierra Leone later visited Shalom school located west
of Lusaka and give a key note speech for her three-country visit to

The U.S. Government supporting a program at Shalom for girls'education through the USAID-funded "Time to Learn" program that provides scholarship to vulnerable children in secondary schools. 

The U.S. second lady will Wednesday afternoon take part in a panel discussion on women's entrepreneurship and U.S. support for women in business in Zambia. Tomorrow the delegation will visit the Ng'ombe One Stop Health Centre situated in the highly density township on the northern part of the Lusaka capital.
The U.S. Government is supporting women's health, anti -gender violence programs and programs for orphans at the centre. Zambia is the first stop country on Dr. Biden's visit to the three African countries. 

The pooler also briefed the media on a stop the second lady made to one of the community schools located in Kanyama Township, west of Zambia's capital city, Lusaka.

Dr Biden who was accompanied by Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Rajiv Shah, US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women Issues Catherine Russell, her granddaughter Finnegan Biden and other U.S. officials was welcomed by singing pupils who were praising the U.S government for the help rendered to them.
The pupils were elated that the US Government has joined hands with the Zambian government to brighten their hopes of a better future through education.
 She told the pupils "And as a lifelong teacher, one of my favorite things to do when I travel is to meet students, like all of you".
Dr Biden told the pupils that what they were doing - putting their education first was important because they were creating a lifetime of opportunities for themselves and their families.
"It's a pleasure to be here at Shalom Community School and to meet all of you... and to be joined by Administrator Raj Shah, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development ...Cathy Russell, the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues ... and David Young, our Charge d'Affaires in Zambia" she said as she smiled at them.
The second lady said that U.S. was committed to ensuring that young women have the tools they need to not only survive but to thrive in their communities.

Dr. Biden said that a strong educational foundation can provide a sense of hope of normalcy and the chance at a better life.

"If you change one classroom, pretty soon that classroom has changed one school...that school has changed a village that village has changed a province ...and that province has changed a country", Dr. Biden said.
She said that her trip to Africa would focus on  girls' education and on how women's participation in government, the economy, and civil society can accelerate economic development, improve health and educational outcomes, and foster peace and security.
She said this was being done by ensuring that all students have access to quality education.
Dr Biden expressed her concerns about the horrific capturing of girls in Nigeria which she said has triggered anger reminds the world that girls around the globe risk their lives to pursue their ambitions.
"I've been a teacher for over 30 years.  I love helping students -navigate their future ... and see it grow bright before their eyes" she said.
A pupil and beneficiary of the "Time to Learn Scholarship program", Martha Matongo, thanked the U.S. government for the help rendered of paying for her school fees, uniform and resources to purchase school materials.
Zambian's deputy permanent secretary in the ministry of education Christine Mayondi, said community schools forms an integral party of the education system and was happy that the Zambian government and other partners were helping such schools.
Wife of Zambia's vice president Guy Scott, Charlotte, said 2014 was a special year for Zambia as it was celebrating its 50 years of independence and it was important to receive visitors like Dr. Biden and her delegation.

An excerpt from Dr. Biden's remarks encouraging youth to continue their education.
" a lifelong teacher, one of my favorite things to do when I travel is to meet students, like all of you.
What all of you are doing – putting your education first – is so important. By focusing on your studies, you are creating a lifetime of opportunities for you and your families.
So, on my trip over the next few days, one of the areas I will be focusing is education. 
But I will also be looking at how women’s participation in government, the economy, and civil society can accelerate economic development, improve health and educational outcomes, and foster peace and security.
The United States is committed to making sure girls and young women have the tools they need to not just survive – but to thrive in their communities. 
Through partnerships with Zambia and other African governments, we hope to improve women’s lives through educational opportunities, access to healthcare, combatting gender-based violence, and empowering women – because a nation cannot reach its full economic potential until its women reach theirs.
Many countries around the world now recognize that bringing more women into the workforce is key to economic growth, productivity and prosperity."

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Replenishing the Highway Trust Fund to repair America's roads

President Obama took to the Key Bridge, two years since his last visit, to make the case that the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), the fund designed to help states repair and rebuild America's infrastructure, could potentially run out of funds if Congress doesn't act soon.

"It’s not crazy, it’s not socialism.   It’s not the imperial presidency. No laws are broken.  We’re just building roads and bridges like we’ve been doing for the last, I don’t know, 50, 100 years.  But so far, House Republicans have refused to act on this idea.  I haven’t heard a good reason why they haven’t acted. "It’s not like they’ve been busy with other stuff", the president said.  

Also weighing in on this issue is DC Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton.

“If Congress does not act by the end of the month it will force the Department of Transportation to ration reimbursements to the states, and will be directly responsible for the loss of thousands of good-paying jobs, for the slowdown of current projects, and for the cancellation of new infrastructure work nationwide." 

Norton says if the Fund is not replenished it could lead to an "infrastructure emergency"

"The greatest danger, of course, is to the economy itself", writes Norton in a press release.

"Instead of investing in our infrastructure and in jobs, House Republicans have held steadfast to maintain corporate loopholes that ship jobs and investments overseas. Only real money, no gimmicks, can fix this.”  

Norton is an original cosponsor of H.R. 4985, the Stop Corporate Expatriation and Invest in America’s Infrastructure Act, which closes corporate tax loopholes to help increase revenue for the HTF.

Said the president of Republicans' methodology, "They believe that all we should be doing is giving more tax breaks to those at the top, eliminating regulations that stop big banks or polluters from doing what they want, cut the safety net for people trying to work their way into the middle class, and then somehow the economy is going to get stronger and jobs and prosperity trickle down to everybody.  That’s their worldview.  I’m sure they sincerely believe it.  It’s just not accurate.  It does not work. 

To their credit, this past May, Republicans proposed a plan that would increase the fund by $14M, by using savings from the US Postal Service's roll back of Saturday postal delivery.

The plan was soon denounced by Democrats and thought to be a "ridiculous" idea.

If Congress does not allocate more funds to the HTF, the Department Of Transportation will implement a cash management plan at the beginning of August to manage the flow of federal dollars to states, and reimbursements for infrastructure work will be limited to the available cash remaining in the HTF. 

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) suggests that it will cost $8.1 billion to keep the HTF solvent through the end of the calendar year.
See also
Highway Safety Improvement 

United States Navy Promotes First Female to 4-Star Admiral

from Defense Media Activity

ARLINGTON, Va. (NNS) -- The United States Navy promoted Michelle Janine Howard to the rank of four-star admiral July 1 during a ceremony at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.
Adm. Howard is the first female four-star in the 238 year history of the United States Navy.
Photo/San Diego Times.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus presided over the ceremony and administered the oath of office.

Adm. Howard is the first female four-star in the 238 year history of the United States Navy.

"Michelle Howard's promotion to the rank of admiral is the result of a brilliant naval career, one I fully expect to continue when she assumes her new role as vice chief of naval operations, but also it is an historic first, an event to be celebrated as she becomes the first female to achieve this position," said Mabus. "Her accomplishment is a direct example of a Navy that now, more than ever, reflects the nation it serves - a nation where success is not borne of race, gender or religion, but of skill and ability."

"Michelle's many trailblazing accomplishments in her 32 years of naval service are evidence of both her fortitude and commitment to excellence and integrity," said Adm. Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations. "I look forward to many great things to come from the Navy's newest 4-star Admiral!"

Howard, the Deputy CNO for Operations, Plans, and Strategy, will relieve Adm. Mark Ferguson III as the 38th Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO) later this afternoon.

Howard is a 1978 graduate of Gateway High School in Aurora, Colo. She graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1982 and from the Army's Command and General Staff College in 1998, with a Masters in Military Arts and Sciences.

Howard's initial sea tours were aboard USS Hunley (AS 31) and USS Lexington (AVT 16). While serving on board Lexington, she received the secretary of the Navy/Navy League Captain Winifred Collins award in May 1987. This award is given to one woman officer a year for outstanding leadership. She reported to USS Mount Hood (AE 29) as chief engineer in 1990 and served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. She assumed duties as first lieutenant on board the USS Flint (AE 32) in July 1992. In January 1996, she became the executive officer of USS Tortuga (LSD 46) and deployed to the Adriatic in support of Operation Joint Endeavor, a peacekeeping effort in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. Sixty days after returning from the Mediterranean deployment, Tortuga departed on a West African training cruise, where the ship's Sailors, with embarked Marines and U.S. Coast Guard detachment, operated with the naval services of seven African nations.

She took command of USS Rushmore (LSD 47) on March 12, 1999, becoming the first African American woman to command a ship in the U.S. Navy. Howard was the commander of Amphibious Squadron Seven from May 2004 to September 2005. Deploying with Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 5, operations included tsunami relief efforts in Indonesia and maritime security operations in the North Arabian Gulf. She commanded Expeditionary Strike Group Two from April 2009 to July 2010. In 2009, she deployed to CENTCOM theater, where she commanded Task Force 151, Multi-national Counter-piracy effort, and Task Force 51, Expeditionary Forces. In 2010, she was the Maritime Task Force commander for BALTOPS, under 6th Fleet.

She was the 2011 USO Military Woman of the Year, and the 2013 NAACP Chairman's Image Award recipient.