December 17, 2018 Erica Eckhardt

Former First Lady Michelle Obama Joins Public Allies In Young Leader Workshop In Northern California

In celebration of her best-selling memoir, BECOMING, Mrs. Obama reunites with Public Allies as part of visit to San Jose, California.

San Jose, CA.  — On Friday, former First Lady Michelle Obama participated in a special youth leadership workshop event hosted by Public Allies, an organization she helped shape.  Public Allies is a national nonprofit focused on developing diverse community leaders (called Allies) in 25 communities across the country. The apprenticeship program recruits talented young leaders and provides them with leadership and career development while diversifying our country’s talent pipeline. Mrs. Obama has a longstanding and meaningful relationship with Public Allies, having served as the Executive Director of the Chicago Chapter in the 1990’s and remaining a strong supporter during her time in the White House and after.

Mrs. Obama joined thirty current Allies and program alumni, the legacy of leadership tenure, by participating in their weekly leadership workshop and training. “Public Allies was my favorite job. I meet Allies and Alums all over the country and they are doing amazing things and I know the future is bright.” she told the group. “It was at Public Allies that I first understood that I would always be ‘becoming.'”

“Public Allies is about cultivating the ‘Michelle Obamas’ of this generation — giving young adults at the start of their careers the leadership skills to be change-makers in their communities while creating a more diverse leadership pipeline in this country.  Today was inspiring and meaningful on many levels, welcoming Mrs Obama home to her Public Allies family,” said Jaime Ernesto Uzeta, CEO of Public Allies.

In BECOMING, pages 175-182, she writes about the significant impact her experience with Public Allies has had on her life and career:

“I’d been hired to be the executive director for the brand-new Chicago chapter of an organization called Public Allies. Public Allies [is] all about promise — finding it, nurturing it, and putting it to use. It was a mandate to seek out young people whose best qualities might otherwise be overlooked and to give them a chance to do something meaningful. To me, the job felt almost like destiny.

The most exciting part for me was finding the Allies themselves…..Who were the leaders? Who was ready for something bigger than what he or she had? These were the people we wanted to encourage to apply, urging them to forget for a minute whatever obstacles normally made such things impossible, promising as an organization we would do what we could …

….I’ve been amazed over time to see how many of our recruits did, in fact, succeed and commit themselves long term to serving a larger public good. Twenty-five year after its inception, Public Allies is still going strong with chapters in Chicago and two dozen other cities and thousands of alumni across the country. To know that I played some small part in that, helping to create something that’s endured, is one of the most gratifying feelings I’ve had in my professional life.

For the first time in my life, really, I felt I was doing something immediately meaningful, directly impacting the lives of others while also staying connected to both my city and my culture.”

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