Michelle Obama appointed vice president for community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals

May 9, 2005

Michelle Obama has been appointed vice president for community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals. Obama, who was previously the executive director for community affairs at the Hospitals, will be responsible for all programs and initiatives that involve the relationship between the Hospitals and the community. She will also take over management of the Hospitals' business diversity program.

Prior to joining the Hospitals, Obama worked as an associate dean of student services for the University of Chicago where she developed the University's first office of community service. She came to the Hospitals in 2002 and quickly built up programs for community relations, neighborhood outreach, volunteer recruitment, staff diversity and minority contracting.

"We have been impressed with the care, imagination and energy that Michelle has brought to every project she has worked on since coming to the Hospitals," said Michael Riordan, president and CEO of the Hospitals. "We are excited to have her join the ranks of senior management. She brings to our team a new level of compassion, commitment and close connections to the community."

"My goal in this position," Obama said, "is to continue to broaden the Hospitals' relationships with our neighborhood and with our city." The University of Chicago Hospitals is one of the largest employers on the South Side and one of the most renowned medical institutions in Chicago and even the Midwest. "We have an obligation," she said, "to ensure that we use our resources on behalf of our neighborhood and our city. In this new role, my goal is to better integrate community engagement into the culture of this institution and to expand our partnerships with local organizations and institutions."

Obama, 41, the wife of United States Senator Barack Obama, was born in Chicago and attended Whitney M. Young Magnet High School. She graduated cum laude from Princeton University with a B.A. in sociology in 1985 and earned her J.D. from Harvard Law School, where she met her husband, in 1988. Obama then worked as an associate at the law firm of Sidley & Austin in Chicago. After spending a few years in the private sector, Obama moved into the public sector working first as an assistant to the mayor and then as the assistant commissioner of planning and development for the City of Chicago.

She then turned her attention to the non-profit sector. In 1993, she became the founding executive director of Public Allies Chicago, an Americorps National Service Program. Through her work with Public Allies in Chicago, Obama was able to provide internship opportunities and leadership training to hundreds of young adults interested in pursuing careers in the public sector.

Obama serves on a variety of boards and commissions including the board of the Otho S.A. Sprague Memorial Institute, Facing History and Ourselves, and the Muntu Dance Company. She is a former member of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.

Obama's husband is a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. After seven years as a member of the Illinois State Senate, he was elected this past November to the U.S. Senate and was sworn into office January 4, 2005. He serves on the Environment and Public Works Committee, the Veterans' Affairs Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee.

They live in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago and are the proud parents of two girls. The Obamas are members of Trinity United Church of Christ on the South Side.

The University of Chicago Medicine
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Press Contact

John Easton
(773) 702-0025
john.easton@uchospitals.edu