Michelle Obama resigns position at University of Chicago Medical Center
January 9, 2009
Michelle Obama has resigned her leadership post at the University of Chicago Medical Center as she prepares to take on her new role at the White House as First Lady.
During the presidential campaign, she had been on leave as Vice President for Community and External Affairs at the Medical Center.
"We are so very proud of Michelle personally, and we are very thankful for her professional accomplishments in creating and expanding the strategic vision for the Office of Community Affairs," said James Madara, MD, CEO of the Medical Center.
In light of her departure, Madara announced that the Medical Center’s Office of Community and External Affairs has been reorganized under the leadership of Eric Whitaker, MD, MPH, Executive Vice President for Strategic Affiliations and Associate Dean for Community Based Research.
Madara said the move would enhance support for the Urban Health Initiative, an ambitious effort to reshape health care on Chicago’s South Side.
Leif Elsmo will continue his role as Executive Director of the Office of Community Affairs, reporting to Whitaker, and coordinating all aspects of the office’s functions.
Obama joined what was then known as the University of Chicago Hospitals in 2002 as Executive Director for Community Affairs. She built up programs for community relations, neighborhood outreach, volunteer recruitment, staff diversity and minority contracting.
In 2005, Obama was named Vice President for Community and External Affairs at the Medical Center, where she was responsible for all programs and initiatives that involved relationships between the Medical Center and the community. She was also responsible for managing the Medical Center’s business diversity program.
Obama worked on volunteer programs in the hospitals and in the community, community-based health education conducted by physicians and the Adopt-a-School initiative. Under her leadership, the number of hospital employees serving in the community increased nearly fivefold, while community members volunteering in the hospital nearly quadrupled.
Obama also helped create the South Side Health Collaborative, which finds "medical homes" for residents of the South Side who lack ready access to primary care. The South Side Health Collaborative became a major pillar of the Urban Health Initiative.
In 2007, Obama switched from full-time to part-time, and subsequently took an unpaid leave of absence to work on husband Barack’s presidential campaign.
Prior to joining the Medical Center, Obama had worked at University of Chicago as Associate Dean of Student Services. She launched and became the first Director of the University Community Service Center, which offers new opportunities to student, staff and faculty for service learning, volunteerism and civic engagement.
She also served on the board of trustees at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, where daughters Malia and Sasha were students.
The Obamas recently moved to Washington, D.C., though they expect to maintain their home in Hyde Park. Barack Obama is scheduled to be sworn in as President of the United States on Jan. 20.
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