Introduction of First Lady Michelle Obama by Nicola Goren, Acting CEO, Corporation for National and Community Service

May 12, 2009

Ronald Reagan Building
Washington, D.C.

2:35 P.M. EDT

Good afternoon everyone. And welcome to all of you who join us by phone from across the country!

I would like to recognize our Board members who are here – our Chair Alan Solomont, Vice-Chair Stephen Goldsmith, as well as Eric Tanenblatt, Hyepin Im, and Laysha Ward. Thank you for the incredible leadership and support you provide all of us at the Corporation and for the tireless hours and hard work you have put in during this incredible transition. And thank you to the rest of our incredible Board who could not be with us.

I cannot say enough about you -- our wonderful staff. Your dedication and commitment to national service and public service is second to none. You have put in extra hours, in the case of some doing the work of two people, and in the case of many doing it for decades. You are truly inspirational.

On a personal note, I also want to say thank you to my husband Andy, and my boys Coby and Jared, who are here today. They've been incredibly supportive of me over these years – and especially the last six months.

It's been said before, but it bears repeating now, what was supposed to be a quiet transition turned into the greatest expansion in volunteerism in a generation. This has been an amazing few months – and that it what we are here to celebrate.

Our ability to reach this milestone is in no small part because of the person we have all come here to see. First Lady Michelle Obama has made service and volunteering a life calling. It's not just part of what she does – it's part of who she is. It's in her blood.

After graduating from Harvard Law School and spending several years at a major law firm, the First Lady decided her true calling lay in encouraging people to serve their communities and their neighbors. She served as assistant commissioner of planning and development in Chicago City Hall before becoming the founding executive director of the Chicago chapter of Public Allies, an AmeriCorps program that prepares youth for public service.

In 1996, Michelle Obama joined the University of Chicago with a vision of bringing campus and community together. As associate dean of student services, she developed the university's first community service program, and under her leadership as vice president of community and external affairs for the University of Chicago Medical Center, volunteering in that community skyrocketed.

In her new role at the White House, she has focused on a number of issues close to her heart — supporting military families, helping working women balance career and family, and of course, encouraging national service. We are thrilled that she is visibly out there participating in and supporting national service and volunteering – whether at Youth Build, a food pantry, or with the Student Conservation Association.

Let there be no doubt, Michelle Obama is leading by example. Through her actions and words, she is encouraging Americans from all walks of life to serve the nation and help address the problems we face. And she is helping to leverage a whole new generation of Americans who are making service a part of their daily lives.

But today, Michelle Obama is here to recognize and celebrate all your hard work – work that led to the largest Martin Luther King Day of Service in history; to quickly and efficiently getting Recovery Act money out the door to communities in distress; and to the passage of the most sweeping national service legislation to be passed in 75 years, the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.

It's been a great honor for me to be part of that process. And it's really an honor now to introduce to you the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama….

END 2:42 P.M. EDT

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