Mocha Moms Briefing

Uploaded by whitehouse on 16.02.2012

Heather Foster: Welcome to all of you.
I want to welcome you to the White House.
My name is Heather Foster.
I am the Associate Director here at the White House Office of
Public Engagement, and it's my job to basically do what we're
doing today: To make sure that you connect,
you feel connected with the White House,
invite you here to attend briefings, tours, activities,
and often interact with our senior leadership.
So I want to welcome you here today on behalf of the
President, the First Lady, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett.
(cheers and applause)
We have a wonderful morning set up of briefings.
I just want to kind of walk through how we're going to run
the event here today.
And we are very excited that you all are all on social media.
Later on this morning you'll hear from my director,
Jon Carson, the Director of Office of Public Engagement,
and he is all about social media.
He loves groups that blog, that tweet.
And to just tell you a quick story,
it's really important in the work that we do here and how the
President gets his message out.
And we use so much of it on social media,
and we use so much of it on Twitter.
So recently you might have heard that the President called on
congress to make sure that they extend the payroll tax.
And so, back in December, we launched a campaign for a week,
basically, telling all of our groups to make sure that they
tell what their individual story is if they have an extra $40 in
their paycheck, and this went far and wide.
People sent us videos.
They tweeted about it.
They did videos in their bathroom.
It was amazing to see for so many people what $40 did.
And this was the type of thing once everyone saw how much $40
in one paycheck meant, all of a sudden,
we got a payroll extension.
So it's amazing to see what can be done on social media.
And so I just want to make sure that you guys understand our
process here today.
There's some key things about the White House that often make
things like today complicated.
Security is very tight.
So once you enter into the building, you cannot enter,
you cannot leave.
So that is an important thing to remember.
So in case -- you can go outside if you need to make
a phone call.
I know you all are mothers.
So I understand the importance of checking
your phone regularly.
Service in here can get very low.
So you might only have about two bars on your phone,
but once you exit, you'll have full service.
So if you need to leave, feel free to exit out the back this
way, go out the double doors, you'll see staff.
In the case that you get thirsty,
there's a cafeteria out here.
You can grab some water, coffee.
So I encourage you to go ahead and get up and leave.
Restrooms, you should have seen all of them, but just in case,
you need to go out these side doors,
go up the first set of stairs, and you'll see restrooms
And so I think that's it logistically.
We have a great lineup of speakers.
You're going to hear from the director of our Domestic
Policy Council.
You're going to hear from the First Lady's Chief of Staff.
And you're also going to hear from some of our agency
We're going to hear from a lot of African American women who
are senior leadership here in the Obama administration.
So, I just wanted to make sure -- (applause)
-- that you all get the experience today of seeing the
vast amount of women that we have here in the Obama
administration, but then also hearing from our top leadership
on important issues.
So I hope you came ready with questions,
ready to really make sure that you understand the policies,
and to make sure that you say that you're here on Twitter.
So I believe the handle is at mochas.
Speaker: No.
Heather Foster: Mochas@WH.
And we always ask people to also put pound at the White House.
So you can say, I was here for an office public engagement
event pound at the White House.
So you can start tweeting that, put it on your Facebook page.
I saw all of you taking lovely pictures up here.
So make sure that you go ahead and add that to your Facebook
and your Twitter now.
Just to tell you a little bit about myself,
I worked in the administration for the past three years.
My background is in education and policy.
I am from Atlanta, Georgia, and I think I saw --
(cheers and applause)
Woo, Georgia girls!
And I am a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta
Sorority Incorporated.
I saw the sorors taking pictures.
Love y'all.
I'm sure some other organizations are represented
here as well, yeah.
But, no, I welcome all Greek organizations,
and it's great to see the variety of women.
Do we have any women from Chicago?
Audience Member: Yeah!
Heather Foster: Yay!
I moved here from Chicago.
I lived in Chicago for about ten years.
So lots of love for Chicago, as always.
And I thought I saw someone on the list yesterday from Duluth,
Georgia, because I went to Duluth High School.
Audience Member: Woo!
Heather Foster: All right, yay Duluth!
Any women from California?
West coast!
We're heading out to LA.
Any Texas?
New York?
Always the east coast in the house, wow.
Did I miss any?
Northwest, Washington, Oregon?
Audience Member: Charlotte.
Heather Foster: The south, the rest of the south.
Lots of love for the south, North Carolina, Florida.
Audience Member: Ohio.
Heather Foster: Ohio, yes!
Audience Member: Arizona.
Heather Foster: I was about to say southwest.
All right.
Audience Member: Arizona?
Heather Foster: And of course the DMV.
Okay, okay, okay.
So we're all represented.
Did I miss any areas?
Any cities, anybody else wants to shout out?
Audience Member: Michigan.
Heather Foster: Michigan, yes.
Audience Member: Midwest.
Heather Foster: Okay.
All right, so let's go ahead and get started on our
policy briefing.
We have -- what we're going to have is we'll have two
panelists, and they are going to give brief remarks.
I will moderate, and then we'll have some question and answer
time, and then we'll hear from some of our senior leadership in
terms of speakers.
So today we have our first panel.
And Dr. Nadine Gracia from the Department of Health and Human
Services is going to take the stage for us.
Nadine is our Assistant Secretary for Minority Health at
the Department of Health and Human Services.
And then we also have Jocelyn Frye.
Jocelyn is a Deputy Assistant to the President.
And Director of Policy and Special Projects for the
First Lady.
So this is her right-hand woman in terms of policy.
These two women are amazing, and I'm going to allow them to
introduce themselves and then give some brief remarks about
the work that they've been doing.
And then we'll take your questions.
Make sure you stand, go ahead and say your city again,
or your chapter that you belong to,
and we'll take your question.
Jocelyn Frye: Good morning.
Audience: Good morning.
Jocelyn Frye: It's wonderful to see all of you here.
This is very exciting.
We should do this everyday.
As Heather said, I'm Jocelyn Frye.
I work for the First Lady.
I'm her Policy Director.
And I thought I would talk a little bit about her work on
"Let's Move", the childhood obesity initiative that she's
been spearheading since the, almost since we started.
And I've been here since day two, so I feel like a veteran.
And why don't I give you just a quick overview of what we've
been doing, maybe talk a little bit about how folks can
get involved.
And then after Nadine speaks, if you all have more questions,
I'm happy to answer them.
As many people know, as probably I'm sure all of you know,
one of the major initiatives that the First Lady has been
focused on is an initiative around ending childhood obesity.
And she has often said that this is an issue that she selected
largely out of her experience as a mom.
And so it's an experience that I'm sure resonates with many of
you really trying to figure out how to make sure that her own
family was eating right, juggling a busy family life at
home between her and the President long before they were
the First Lady and the President,
and really trying to figure out how to make it all work.
And what she discovered, not surprisingly,
is that the struggle she was facing was one that was not
unique to her, and it is one that cuts across really all
races, all economic levels, all parts of the country,
and it is a huge issue that affects children across
the country.
And I think what struck her the most is the potential long-term
impact of it.
That it's one thing to just make sure your kids are eating
healthy, but when you realize some of the data that suggests
that this generation of kids is more likely to have diabetes and
some other very serious health conditions,
and there are some questions about their life span in
comparison to prior generations, it really sort of brings home
the enormity of the problem.
And the First Lady wanted to tackle this issue like she
tackles most issues, which is not sort of come at it with sort
of a knee jerk solution, but really try to think critically
about what would make sense.
And out of that work came a very comprehensive report done by the
domestic policy council here that laid out essentially a
roadmap for tackling childhood obesity.
And that became sort of the underpinnings,
the policy underpinnings, of what was launched in February
2010 as Let's Move.
It is a national campaign to end childhood obesity in
a generation.
And rather than pick an arbitrary year for ending
childhood obesity, we decided to take sort of a long-term
approach, because it took us a while to get here.
It took us, when you look back at the data,
it's taken us a couple of decades to really get to the
point where today, you know, a third of kids are overweight or
obese, and when you look at communities of color,
particularly African American and Hispanic populations,
it's closer to half of the kids are in that category.
So it took us a while to get here,
and our view was it was going to take us a while to really
eradicate the problem.
The campaign itself, the initiative,
has a number of components.
I could spend hours talking about it,
and I'm sure that would not be interesting.
But, it has sort of four prongs to it: One that focuses on
schools and healthy eating in schools.
One that focuses on really increasing physical activity.
She often talks about the fact that this generation of kids is
far more sedentary than maybe what we remember.
And, you know, having to -- you know,
we all had to go outside and play,
and even if we didn't feel like it, we got sent outside anyway,
and came in when the lights got turned off,
and that type of thing.
Whereas, kids now, the data suggests that they are sitting
in front of some sort of object for at least seven hours a day.
So the physical activity is clearly an issue.
Food access, again, an issue that I'm sure resonates with
many of the folks in this room.
It's hard to tell people to eat healthy if they don't have
grocery stores in their neighborhoods,
if the food is not affordable, that type of thing.
So that's been a core component.
And also the issue of just making sure people have the
right information to make healthy choices.
The First Lady has often talked about going to the grocery store
looking at those labels, and they are incomprehensible.
So if you can't figure out what the healthy choice is,
then you're probably not going to make the right choice.
And fortunately for us, we've gotten a lot of really terrific
response from every possible sector,
from communities on the ground, from faith organizations,
from individuals to large companies,
and we've been pleased with the success.
We've worked closely with folks like Nadine and HHS and many of
the agencies, and it is very much an administration-wide
We just came off of a very rewarding, but a little tiring,
three-day tour to really celebrate the second anniversary
of Let's Move.
And the focus of that three-day tour, we went to Iowa, Arkansas,
we went to Texas, we went to Florida in Homestead
and Orlando.
And the idea behind the tour was really to highlight not simply
successes but really to talk about how Let's Move is
operating at both a very sort of statewide level,
the biggest levels, and also individual levels.
So we went from Iowa, where they have a statewide initiative to
become the healthiest state in the country.
And they have a whole host of folks, we had
14,000 kids in the stadium, to the First Lady going and having
dinner with a family who had been making changes in their own
home, working with "My Plate", which is the icon that was
launched by the Department of Agriculture over the summer.
And we're going to continue to do that.
And there are lots of ways to get involved,
from doing things in your own communities.
There are Let's Move cities and towns which HHS oversees,
and working in your local community around, you know,
whether it's with your churches, or with girl scouts,
or whatever you want to do to really try to make basic changes
in your community.
And I'm happy to talk about that in more detail.
I think I'm going to stop there for a moment and let Nadine
speak, and then I'm happy to answer any questions that you
might have.
So that's just a snapshot of what we've been doing,
but I invite all of you to join us in the effort,
because I think you all know better than anyone sort of the
urgency and need to really address the problem.
So I look forward to talking to you more about it.
Nadine Gracia: Good morning.
Audience: Good morning.
Nadine Gracia: It is really a pleasure for me to be here this
morning and to join Jocelyn on this panel.
Again, my name is Nadine Gracia, and I am the Acting Deputy
Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and the Acting Director
of the Office of Minority Health at the Department of Health and
Human Services, or HHS for short.
I am a pediatrician by training, and so the health of mothers,
the well-being of mothers, and certainly children,
is really important to me.
And thinking in particular about minority health issues has been
a passion of mine and certainly the whole reason for being of my
office, which really has as its mission to develop programs and
policies that will help us eliminate health disparities or
the health gaps that we see in minority communities.
And it's truly just an exciting time and an important time for
us to be working on this issue, because this is certainly an
administration and, as Jocelyn has talked about,
an administration that really understands the importance of
And in understanding that importance of health has really
focused on prevention.
And that's so important when we talk about the health of
minority populations.
The reason being is because the statistics really are
troublesome, and I'm sure many of you know them.
And I actually want to commend your organization, actually,
for the community service work that you do in addressing health
and health disparities.
Certainly we see that there are higher rates of diabetes,
obesity, cancer, in minority populations.
We look at HIV.
African American women have high rates of HIV infection.
Infant mortality, African American women have twice the
rate of infant mortality, where babies are dying in their first
year of life.
These are really concerning statistics,
but this is such a great time, because this administration has
put health really as a priority and at the forefront.
And one of the key ways that it's done that is through the
Affordable Care Act, the new healthcare law that President
Obama signed in 2010, which basically is one of the best
ways and strategies that we have really to improve the health of
all the nation, but really for us to tackle the disparities
that we see in minority and underserved communities.
And I just want to highlight just a few ways that that is
being accomplished.
When I talked about some of those disparities that we see --
diabetes, cancer, heart disease -- many of those conditions are
But some of the challenges with preventing those diseases is
that to get the preventive screenings,
we see that minorities often don't receive those preventive
screenings, or that they go late to get the preventive care that
they need to stay healthy.
And once they actually get that care,
often they don't receive the same quality of care.
And what the Affordable Care Act is doing is really to help make
prevention affordable and accessible.
So many of those screenings that I've talked about,
such as screening for diabetes, screening for obesity,
tobacco cessation, screening for blood pressure,
with the health care law, new health plans are required to
cover those preventive screenings at no cost to you.
That means no co-pay, no deductibles,
so that we can make those services accessible to
all people.
We also want to ensure with regards to infant mortality and
healthy pregnancy that mothers have access to the services that
they need to have a healthy pregnancy.
And so, again, those types of screenings,
screening for conditions that can harm the mother,
that can harm the baby, are actually provided, as well,
at no cost.
There are also services that will be implemented this year
with regards to breast feeding support,
including access to breast feeding supplies.
Because we know that some of those barriers exist as far as
getting -- (applause)
Some of the barriers exist as to getting access to the supplies
but also to encouraging mothers to be able to breast feed,
to be in supportive environments,
not just in the hospital but when you go home.
Those women that are in the workplace, et cetera,
to ensure that they have the skills,
as well as the clinicians, people like myself,
being able to actually counsel effectively mothers to encourage
them to breast feed.
And our surgeon general has really been a pioneer in
this area.
She issued a call to action to support breast feeding
last year.
But the Affordable Care Act is doing other things where
we're also investing in clinics that we want to have community
health centers, more community health centers in underserved
areas, to really help patients and others get access to the
care that they need.
We're investing in the workforce,
so trying to incentivize and encourage providers to actually
practice in those communities that need it most.
But we also have provisions that really help to protect women.
You know, insurance companies actually used to be able to
charge higher premiums for women where -- I'll give you an
example -- that a 22-year-old woman could be charged as much
as 150% higher in her premium than the same age man,
just because of her gender.
Or that insurance companies could actually deny women
coverage because of preexisting conditions, such as cancer,
or could you believe it, having a baby.
And that no longer in the case.
Insurance companies cannot do that.
There are also provisions when we talk about children and youth
and young adults where we know that there often is a high
insurance rate for young adults, especially as they are crossing
into adulthood.
And so one of the provisions in the Affordable Care Act is that
young adults can actually stay on their parents' insurance plan
until the age of 26.
And that's the case whether -- they can actually be married.
They can be financially dependent on you.
They can actually have started employment,
but they actually can stay on your insurance until the
age of 26.
And as mothers, I'm sure that gives great piece of mind,
to know that as your children are making that transition that
they don't have to worry about their access to healthcare.
These are just some of the provisions in the Affordable
Care Act.
And, as you see, it's the reason why it's so important for us to
continue to move ahead, to really ensure that this,
by this strategy, by this law, we are able to actually
encourage prevention and really have a healthier nation for
everyone in the U.S.
There is also strategies that we have out of our department that
under the leadership of Secretary Sebelius,
who is certainly a dynamic woman and really taking charge in
leading us in this department to address disparities.
Last year we actually released our first ever action plan to
reduce racial and ethnic health disparities, the first one ever.
And this is a plan that all of our agencies within HHS are
committed to.
So we have leadership from the top levels of the department who
have said, we will make disparities and the elimination
of disparities a priority.
We're addressing issues such as transforming healthcare.
We're addressing workforce issues.
We're looking at the research that we need to do to continue
to better understand the disparities that we see and
better target our interventions.
But we're also looking at how we make decisions with our programs
and policies to say, how will this program or policy help us
to reduce disparities.
And then we're also tackling certain disease issues,
like heart disease, influenza, flu,
we're in the middle of flu season,
tackling those type of disparities that we see to make
sure that we can eliminate them and reduce them over time.
And this is really a tremendous effort for the department,
because what we see now is that we have the leverage through the
Affordable Care Act, through our first ever action plan on
disparities to really make this happen.
But we also in the Office of Minority Health have something
called the National Partnership for Action to
End Health Disparities.
And this Partnership for Action is a community driven,
community organized approach that we work in partnership with
communities who have actually identified what they can do to
actually help us and health disparities.
And so last year, as well, the National Stakeholders Strategy
for Achieving Health Equity was released.
And we have regional councils across the country comprised of
and led by community leaders who are working activity will
address the disparity issues that they see in their regions.
So you can see there's a lot of momentum that we have in the
department, and we're working across the federal government
really to address these issues.
And I'll conclude with just one example of a program in our
office, the Office of Minority Health,
which is related to infant mortality awareness.
This is a campaign that was started in 2007,
called "A Healthy Baby Begins with You."
Again, as I mentioned, because we see that the rates of infant
mortality for African American infants are twice that of
whites, we see that a higher rate as well in American Indian
and Alaskan native infants.
And so this is a campaign where we're working to make sure that
women understand the risks for infant mortality.
It's one of the higher rates of preterm birth or low birth
weight infants.
And we've expanded that program now to also include a
preconception health program where we're actually teaching
college students about the importance of preconception
health and that they can become ambassadors to teach their peers
so that we can basically have a pipeline of women who understand
the importance of preconception health and really help us to
eliminate and reduce this disparity.
So I'm very excited to be here.
I commend you for everything that you do,
in particular being the mothers that you are,
and I look forward to answering any questions that you have.
Thank you.
Heather Foster: So, at this time,
let's take a few questions.
Let's start from this side of the room.
Make sure you say your name and your chapter.
Christine Garrett: Good morning.
My name is Christine Garrett, and I represent the Howard
County chapter of Mocha Moms, and I'm one of their
And I'm a resident of Baltimore County.
And I have a very interesting dynamic.
I have two kids, 8 and 6.
I am presiding over a chapter where the moms are very engaged
in leaving and being organic and being very thoughtful about what
they eat and how they move.
You mentioned the Let's Move campaign.
My children attend Baltimore County schools,
and what's very interesting is that recess has been considered
an option and not something mandatory.
I grew up where lunch and recess were together.
So we're talking 30 to maybe 45 minutes of lunch and just
break time.
What I would like to know is how is the Let's Move campaign
directly or indirectly encouraging or influencing
policy on the state and local level to,
for lack of a better word, enforce or encourage recess not
being an option but more so a mandate?
Because I think a lot of us have discussed over just in
conversation that PE classes are just being wiped out in
certain areas.
And I find it very unsettling that as a mom that my children
only get maybe 20 minutes to break from the day,
and yet the teachers are wondering why the kids are
bouncing off the walls after lunch.
And I'm not going to discuss the food.
I'm not going to go there, because I'm sure someone else
will address that issue.
But I would like to know what is our First Lady doing with the
policy that we have, in Let's Move,
how are they doing to address the physical
activity of our children?
Thank you.
Jocelyn Frye: That's a great question,
and it hits the nail right on the head.
There are a couple of things that we are doing to address it.
The first thing, though, I'll preface it by saying is that we
have some real limits in what we can do.
We can't force schools to make those decisions,
nor do we want to.
We want schools and districts to have the discretion to make the
decisions that seem right for them.
One of the things that we've done is, first of all,
emphasis -- emphasize is one of our key priorities really
increasing the percentage of kids who participate in physical
activity and get, you know, 60 minutes of play a day,
which is a core principle of the Let's Move campaign.
And one of the programs that we've lifted up,
that we emphasize a lot, is a USDA program called the
HealthierUS School Challenge.
It's a program that if schools join it,
and you can either be a bronze, a gold, a silver,
or a gold with distinction, and if you join it,
you essentially are making a commitment to do a certain set
of things.
Meet a certain set of standards when it comes to the nutritional
value, the food that you provide to do nutrition education with
all of your students.
And also to provide for a certain amount of physical
activity for your kids a day.
So it is a program.
If you join it, our view is that you are hitting all the
components that we think are necessary to make sure that kids
are getting both healthy food and a sufficient amount of
physical activity.
And one of our goals in the report that the Domestic Policy
Council issued was to increase the number of schools that
participated in that program over time.
Our first goal was to double that number.
We met that goal last year.
We were trying to get to 1,250 schools.
We exceeded it.
And then we have a goal of adding at least 1,000
schools a year that do that.
When we went on our tour last week,
we actually have already met the June 2012 goal.
In fact, we've gone past it by a significant margin.
So we are going to continue to really push schools in the way
that we can to really encourage them to invest in physical
activity and to make that a core component of what they do.
The other thing I would say is that the First Lady often talks
about one of the very first events that we did to highlight
the schools that were participating in that program,
was out in Alexandria.
And one of the principals said to her essentially what you
said, which is that he found that their kids did better when
they were not only giving them healthy food but they were
setting aside a sufficient amount of time for recess and
physical activity.
That they performed better academically.
There's data to show that.
And I think the dynamic that we're facing is that there are
schools that feel like they are under a lot of pressures.
They sometimes, you know, mistakenly think that recess is
a way to meet some other goals.
But what we've reinforced is that if you talk to the schools
that are actually making this work,
they will tell you their kids do better when they actually have a
balanced approach to these issues.
The last thing that I'll say about it is that we'll also made
a point of lifting up schools that are not just in sort of
more elite communities where you might argue that they have
greater resources to provide healthier food.
One of the schools that the First Lady has visited is out in
Southeast D.C. River Terrace Elementary.
That was one of the first silver/gold schools under
the USDA program.
Not any additional resources, but just a committed principal
who believed in trying to make sure that her kids -- it's,
you know, almost I think 99.9% African American population,
but she understood that physical activity was a core component,
and they've made that commitment.
So we've tried to lift up schools across the country that
have been doing what we think is necessary to ensure both
physical activity and healthy food.
The very last thing, though, I will say about school lunch to
anticipate a question out there is that one of the biggest
accomplishments for Let's Move is pushing the child nutrition
law and making that become law.
It was the most significant change in schools and to school
lunch in over 15 years and will mandate that schools across the
country retire nutrition standards to ensure that they
are actually getting healthier school lunches.
So that, for us, was an enormous accomplishment and I think will
do a lot to make sure that kids are getting healthy food.
But thank you for the question.
Heather Foster: Right here.
LaTisha Elcock: Good morning.
My name is LaTisha Elcock.
I'm from the Alexandria chapter in Northern Virginia.
I really love what you had to say about A Healthy Baby Starts
with You and how there are preconception classes offered to
college level women who are considering becoming a mom.
I'm concerned about that population that's not
in college.
There is a giant population of women in this country that
graduate high school or not and then move on and they
begin to work.
How does the administration plan to reach out to those women who
may not be on a college campus but still need this information
to make sure they too can produce healthy babies and be
effective moms?
Nadine Gracia: That's a great point, a great question.
Actually, with that campaign, we actually teach the college
women, but the college women then interface and interact in
the community.
So it's actually not limited to the campus.
Actually, it's that they go out and become ambassadors
to the community.
And so that can transcend those who are actually in college and
those who are not in college.
But we also have -- actually, it was just announced this month --
an initiative called the Strong Start Initiative that HHS just
released to actually help, as well as being a campaign,
issuing $40 million in grants to healthcare providers to
community coalitions and others to also work on this issue with
regards to preconception health, to try to reduce the number of
preterm births that we see, low birth weight,
as well as reducing the number of elected deliveries,
C-section deliveries that we see before 39 weeks,
because that can be a risk to the mother's health.
And so we actually are investing in that way.
So there are many different ways that we are doing that,
but we certainly know that we want to target those who are
most at risk and utilize different vehicles so it doesn't
just come from us as providers, but it can come from peer
to peer.
And I think that's a very effective strategy for us,
because it comes from people who they trust and who they know in
the community.
Heather Foster: Oh, wow.
One from this side of the room.
Robin Page: I was just thinking about -- I'm sorry,
I'm Robin Page from Hampton, Virginia,
Hampton Roads chapter -- was thinking about the Let's Move.
And as far as exercise, because we know our children are in
front of the screen of some sort,
is there any partnership with Wii or Xbox with like Just Dance
or Zumba to create maybe a Let's Move exercise program?
Jocelyn Frye: A couple of things.
One of the things is that we always emphasize you can get
exercise in a lot of different ways.
I mean, the First Lady talks about that,
that it's not just going outside.
Even if you're at home and you don't have the ability to go
outside, you can turn on the radio and dance.
Wii or whatever the different opportunities are,
the key is to move.
So we definitely emphasize that.
One of our priorities this year is to really focus on the
physical activity piece, and we work very closely with an
organization called the partnership for a
healthier America.
They are the entity that has been the facilitator for a lot
of the big business agreements and corporate agreements that
we've had.
And so one of the strategies that they are looking at right
now is whether or not there are some specific initiatives that
we could do with partners like that.
Or there are other initiatives around, you know,
pedometers and things like that, things that acknowledge the
technological age in which we live,
and try to build into that additional activity as well.
So those are things that we are exploring,
and I'm sure in the coming weeks that we'll be able to talk about
them in more detail.
Nadine Gracia: And if I could just add from the HHS
perspective, we also have the surgeon general who issued a
vision for a healthy and fit nation and talked about many of
those other ways in which kids can actually get
physical activity.
And when I was in practice, I would talk to the youth in my
office, and they would say, well, we don't like gym,
or we don't like to be out, and we're not athletic enough to be
in sports.
And I will say, well, do you watch videos,
do you watch music videos?
They say, yes.
I say, well, what do you do when you watch them?
Well, I just sit on the couch.
I say, then get up and start dancing to the music video.
And so you have to be creative and give kids different options
as far as how they can get that exercise,
because we also recognize too that there are communities where
it may not be safe for the kids to be outside and getting that
type of physical activity.
But we also have the President's Council on Fitness Sports and
Nutrition that also works very closely with Jocelyn's office to
really promote physical activity, as well.
And they have initiatives and campaigns of how youth and
others, adults as well, can get physical activity on a regular
basis without necessarily needing to have specific gym
memberships or access in other places,
but to make it accessible, affordable,
and something that can be fun.
Heather Foster: One from this side of the room.
I'll make sure to get you.
I saw you.
Bridget Obikoya: My name is Bridget Obikoya,
and I was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama,
but I live here in Arlington, Virginia.
And I am in the Southern D.C, Austin D.C. chapter.
And I am an advocate for sensory processing disorders and
designing the home, in particular ADHD, autism,
Asperger's Syndrome, a few things like that.
And what I'd like to know is -- I know that there's a direct
connection, first, between movement, nutrition,
and neurological disorders.
And I want to know if there's anything in particular that you
all are doing that target children?
And I know also that ADHD and other neurological disorders are
on the rise most between boys, in particular African
American boys.
And I wanted to know if there's anything you're doing in
particular to target that segment of the population
and as a whole?
Thank you.
Oh, and also I'd like to say that I'm a blogger,
and I blog on these issues and my blog is B, B is for bloom.
Speaker: B is for bloom?
Nadine Gracia: Well, certainly the issue of autism
and other spectrum disorders, on that spectrum, if you will,
has been, it's been a challenging issue and one that
really is an important public health issue that we've seen.
We have, and actually under President Obama,
had significant increases in our investments in the research and
the work that we're doing in autism, not only in research,
but also in the services that we provide.
Because we recognize that it's not only about understanding
what causes it, but also ensuring that those children who
have autism or are on that spectrum actually have the
ability to really be fully productive members of their
society, whether that's in school,
whether that's in their communities,
or in their families.
And so we have actually a committee,
it's called the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee
that we run at the Department of Health and Human Services that
is looking at many of the things that you have raised.
Looking at the research issues and asking what types of
questions do we still have yet unanswered to better understand
why is autism on the rise?
And how do we target our programs to better address that?
But also, what are the services that these youth need?
Whether it's educational, whether it's in health services,
employment, et cetera.
And then also understanding that there are differences that we're
seeing, whether it's in males versus females,
whether it's minorities or non-minorities.
So we have those initiatives that are underway to really try
to address those problems, because we see that
it's complex.
It's multifactorial, and we're not clear on exactly what the
cause is and why it's increasing,
but we know that if we really continue these more
comprehensive efforts that we can basically help support the
youth who have it.
Heather Foster: Okay.
You have a question?
Tawanna Smith: This actually follows up a little bit.
So thank you for bringing that up.
My name is Tawanna Smith.
I'm from Brooklyn.
I live in Maryland now.
I have to represent Brooklyn.
Anyway, I'm the state coordinator for Maryland.
And I'm not going to get choked up,
but I'm a mother of a four-year-old with autism.
And, woo, my husband, he was a reservist,
and he was an employee of Department of Homeland Security.
So this past year we had to make a decision for him
because of insurance.
So this is really an insurance question.
We had to make the decision for him to leave Homeland Security
to go into active duty, because TRICARE paid for more of our
stuff than our federal insurance did, unfortunately.
And, you know, obviously, if you go active duty,
that's going to be a cut in what we're going to take home for
take home pay, but that's a sacrifice that we've had
to make.
Because, for instance, ADA therapy,
one hour of ADA therapy is $100.
One hour -- we do speech therapy at Kennedy Krieger Institute,
which I'm sure you're familiar with in Baltimore,
which is one of the premier places for, you know,
in the area for children with autism and autism
related disorders.
To go to one class costs $425.
Insurance pays for one month.
This is Maryland now.
Maryland mandate is very different from other states.
But there's so much on clarity with insurance companies and so
much disparity cross states that have families making a decision,
should we stay in this state?
Should we move to someplace like Florida?
Should we move to Pennsylvania?
Should we move to New Jersey?
That have better -- that are mandated to provide certain
amount of services, or just to provide services in general, OT,
ST. and I really want to know like what provisions are being
made in the Affordable Healthcare Act for autism.
Because, as you know, it's on the rise.
And one of the things that I fight with Kennedy -- not fight
with -- I try to help Kennedy Krieger with is there are so
many of our children who do not -- they don't have access.
Their parents just don't know.
They just don't know.
And they did a research study trying to say that it was based
off of, access being based off of race.
And I said, it's not necessarily race.
It's more socioeconomics, because a white family that does
not, you know, who is in the same socioeconomic class as a
black family is going to have the same amount of
limited access.
So really we want to know like -- it kind of like leads off of
her question, like how is it being mandated?
What provisions are being made in Affordable Healthcare Act to
allow more people to have access to these services?
Because, quite frankly, they cannot afford it.
And so, you know, my thing is if you don't pay for them now,
you're going to pay for them later.
So I'm really trying to stay -- (applause)
-- trying to stay at home.
I mean, my options are because you have to go to therapy like
all day almost every day, my option is to stay at home,
but I really feel like maybe I should get my public policy
degree and go back and fight and be a lobbyist or something.
I personally think that there might not be as many parents of
kids with autism on these boards and, therefore,
the policy is not being written correctly.
Nadine Gracia: So you raised, certainly,
an important point and one that we have seen.
That the services that are provided across states actually
can differ.
And, actually, one of our agencies,
the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services,
was looking at that very question to compare what states
offer so that they can actually see what is the disparity that
we're seeing.
Because we would hear these stories of parents who may move
to other states to be able to get different types of services.
One of the key provisions of the Affordable Care Act is related
to what we call the preexisting condition,
one referred to as the preexisting condition.
And one of the provisions in the act is that children under the
age of 19 cannot be denied insurance coverage because of a
preexisting condition.
As in heart defects, they cannot be denied health
insurance coverage.
This is an important step, because insurance companies were
able to deny that coverage or be able to rescind that coverage.
And so that's one of our first key levers.
And I think with regards to the services that are actually
provided, this is where we have many of our agencies that are
looking at what are the services that will be most effective to
really help optimize those children's lives so that we can
provide the evidence to show that these are the types of
services that should also be covered in the coverage and the
healthcare that they receive.
Heather Foster: Okay, well, thank you.
That's going to wrap our session now for this panel.
Let's just give a special round of applause.
Thank you, Jocelyn and Nadine, so much.
So now we have the opportunity to hear from one of the recent
appointments here that the President made to the Domestic
Policy Council.
It was just actually just a shift internally,
as she worked previously as the Director of Intergovernmental
Affairs, Cecilia Munoz is now the new Director of the Domestic
Policy Council.
Cecilia Munoz: Thank you.
Good morning, everybody.
Audience: Good morning.
Cecilia Munoz: It's so wonderful to see all
of you here.
I'm so excited.
I think this is a really awesome organization.
So I'm very excited to be here with you and honored to be here
with you and grateful that you've come from all over to be
part of this session today.
I know we're going to try to make it as useful a day as
possible, as useful to you, but also hopefully the better we're
connected, the better job we can do in the work that we're doing
day in and day out for people around this country.
So, really, thank you for your energy and your commitment and
your time.
It means the world to us.
It sort of feels like we got people who have our backs a
little bit.
That's kind of nice.
Just to introduce myself a little bit more, as you heard,
I was the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs here
at the White House for three years.
And just about a month ago, the President asked me to succeed
the amazing Melody Barnes as the Director of the Domestic
Policy Council.
They are not easy shoes to fill, to say the least.
But I inherited a really, really wonderful team that's working on
a range of policy issues.
And before I started with the administration,
I worked at a civil rights organization for 20 years,
called the National Council La Raza.
It's the nation's largest Latino civil rights group.
Oh, thank you.
Thank you.
That means a lot to me.
I grew up there.
I worked there for 20 years on a whole range of public
policy issues.
So while -- but the issue that I am best known for,
the issue that I have the deepest expertise is
immigration policy.
I have spent my whole career working on education,
on healthcare, on issues of poverty and economic
opportunity, on housing, on a whole range of other issues that
we work on here too.
And I learned from deep experience that we have a lot to
do in this country to really achieve our promise,
and our potential, and our commitment to our best values
as a society.
And that we are most likely to achieve that dream if we are
working collaboratively, if we're working together,
if we are really lifting people up and making sure that,
frankly, that we hold policymakers' feet to the fire.
And that's part of what you do, it's a big part of what you do,
and it is essential to our ability to be successful as
an administration.
So, for me, it's just a huge honor to be doing this work here
in this capacity at the White House.
We have teams in DPC, in the Domestic Policy Council,
engaged very deeply in the weeds on a whole range of issues.
And a lot of them are reflected in the budget that we released
this week.
That was only just this week.
We sort of each day is kind of like dog years here.
It seems like it was longer ago than just actually three days.
But we introduced the budget on Monday.
And I want to raise the budget because it's important.
It's a blueprint for what the President has said he's trying
to achieve.
You heard him -- if you heard him give his speech in
Pottawatomie, Kansas, he talked about our values as a society.
That we ought to be -- we ought to continue to strive to be the
kind of place where if you work hard and you play by the rules,
you ought to be able to be confident that you can raise a
family and count on a good education for your kids and
count on access to healthcare, and be able to own a home,
and put a little bit away for your retirement.
That everybody needs to be playing by the same set
of rules.
And that's the kind of country that we need to be,
and that's the kind of -- those are the kind of values that we
need to continue to work towards.
So he laid out that vision in his speech in Kansas,
and then he built on it in the State of the Union Address with
more specifics about, so what does it mean.
If we're going to be that kind of society,
what does that mean in policy terms?
How do we make that real for people?
How do we make sure that those values are working in people's
lives all around the country?
So the speech is the next opportunity to sort of
provide detail.
And he talked about the kinds of investments we're making in
energy, and in manufacturing, and in our students,
and in our workers, and in sort of reinvigorating our values in
this country.
And then the next level of detail,
and it's a lot of detail, is in the President's budget.
And so the budget -- you know, I'm not going to recommend,
necessarily, that you go through all of the documents.
Although, they are available on the White House's website.
But what really matters is this: This is a document which lays
out the President's blueprint.
It's the roadmap for how we want to achieve that vision,
those values, and make them real in people's lives.
So it talks about starting with, you know,
preparing our students and our workers to make sure that they
are ready to meet the challenges of this growing economy.
And this is a budget which presents a balanced
picture, right.
It reduces the deficit to the tune of $4 trillion,
but it also makes really critical investments in the
things we must be investing in if we're going to continue to
grow the economy, if we're going to continue to create jobs,
and if we're going to continue to make sure that everybody has
access to those jobs, and that everybody is prepared for
those jobs.
We know that there are sectors of the economy,
these are businesses telling us, we're going to need millions of
workers in the technology field.
We're going to need millions of workers in healthcare.
We know where the needs already are.
We know where their business is telling us.
We have jobs available now, and we can't find folks to do them,
because they don't have the right training.
So that's about making sure we're investing in our
educational system.
And this is an area where we have been deeply energetically
involved since day one.
It also means investing in programs for workers,
for people who are in the workforce,
who need that training, who need those skills,
people who are going into community college,
making sure that they are getting the training that they
need for jobs that we know are actually available in
their communities.
That it's not a theoretical education.
That it's education towards good jobs, well paying jobs,
jobs that can provide benefits and some security for people in
their communities, working with employers who say, look,
this is where we know we're going to need workers.
Let's build a curriculum so that you're as a community college
really are doing the career training for the kinds of jobs
that we're going to need.
The President announced a community colleges to careers
program, an 8 billion-dollar investment, just this week,
which is a big piece of the federal budget.
We're also investing very, very seriously in education at the
K-12 level and in higher Ed.
So you've probably heard us talking about the Race to the
Top program.
There's another $850 million going into the Race to the
Top program.
And the way that program works is that it essentially has
spurred the kinds of reforms in more than 40 states.
Now, not all those states got grants,
but we used the program to make sure that those states were
moving forward in reforms.
The most important of which is about making sure that we have
the right accountability mechanisms in place to make sure
every kid is moving forward in our schools and that our schools
are designed to achieve educational success for
every student.
And we know that the old system under the No Child Left Behind
law was deeply flawed, and we have been investing very --
We have invested very heavily in reforms to that law.
And, frankly, like a lot of other things that the President
is working on, like the American Jobs Act,
the reforms to the No Child Left Behind law are stuck in
the congress.
We don't have the bipartisan partners we need to get the big
reforms through.
So what we're doing is using the tools that we have to make sure
that reforms happen anyway.
Race to the Top is a very big piece of that.
And the President announced in his budget that we want to
expand Race to the Top to the higher education sector.
To use those resources to get states and colleges and
universities to make sure that we are making college
more affordable.
This is an area where we've made lots of gains in the last
three years.
Pell grants are bigger and they are more available.
We've changed the way that the college loan structure works so
that folks only have to pay back a proportion of their income so
that they can manage their debt successfully while they
are working.
That stuff is done already!
We've accomplished that already, but we know we need to do more.
So these kinds of reforms that are reflected in the President's
budget are making sure that we keep college affordable,
making sure that we have accountability,
the right accountability mechanisms in place in the
states to make sure we're making progress for our students.
And we're investing to the tune of $5 billion in reforms for
teachers in this country, in making sure that this is an
honored profession, it is a well remunerated profession.
These are -- we need to make sure that we're providing the
best possible training in education for people going into
the teaching field.
We need to make sure that we're not using just a test as the one
way of measuring whether or not these folks are effective.
So we're talking about things like game tapes, right,
like peer reviews, making sure that teachers are getting
support from each other and that we have the best,
the best trained, the best paid core of teachers and principals
in our schools, because we know that that's how you move the
needle for our kids.
So a lot of this stuff we would be able to do on a bigger scale
if we had legislation, and we're going to keep pressing for that.
But this president is pressing forward with what he can do,
and I have the privilege of working with a highly energized
secretary of education who has the great virtue of not only
being very skilled and very committed,
he's really impatient.
But he's impatient for all the things he should be
impatient for.
And to work with someone who is putting that level of energy
into making sure that every student in this country succeeds
is a great honor for me, because it is among the most important
things we can do to make sure that our country is moving
forward, that our economy is moving forward,
that we are on the best possible footing for the work that we
need to do in this 21st century and in this global economy.
So that's just a couple of areas where we've made investments.
There's a lot more to talk about.
But what I want to most say to you is this,
because I so deeply respect the commitment that led you to be
connected to this organization, that led you to take the time
and energy to come here.
Like many of my colleagues, really like all of my
colleagues, everybody has a story to tell.
And I hope Tina Tchen, sitting right there,
she's going to speak to you next,
I hope you ask her for her story as well.
I have the great joy of working with people and for people who
are deeply, deeply committed to making sure that when we talk
about economic recovery that we are talking about every corner
of this country.
When we talk about supporting people who are looking for work
that we are supporting everybody who is looking for work,
including people who have struggled with getting in the
workforce for a long time.
That when we talk about building the economy,
that we are talking about making sure we prepare every student
and every worker to fulfill to their highest potential.
And the notion that nobody in this building needs to explain
why it's important to make sure that we are reaching every
corner of this country and every community and every
constituency, nobody needs to explain that.
I mean, I've spent a career explaining that to people
working in the civil rights community and talking to
policymakers about how sometimes you have to go the extra mile
for certain constituencies.
Because it's not a given that if you set up a job training
program that they are going to be served by it, right.
We've all done that work.
We've all had that conversation.
I haven't had to explain that to anybody that I work with.
Because my colleagues are all people who have been doing that
work all of their careers.
This is a very deep commitment, and so we have a president who
is moving these values forward, who is fighting with the
congress, frankly, which is not always the most cooperative body
in the federal government, who is doing what he can with the
administrative tools that he's got.
Those administrative tools are insufficient to do the job,
but we're doing what we can while we work on the big picture
and fight those battles.
But the most important thing is that for all of his gifts and
his oratorical skills, and his capacity,
and for all of the talented people that he has working with
him in the federal agencies, this president can't do it
by himself.
We can't do it by ourselves.
We really need you.
We need every pair of hands, every voice,
we need to know what you know and see what you see in your
communities all around the country.
We need to make sure that that is informing the work
that we do.
And we need to make sure we're giving you the tools that you
need to do your job well to help be a voice for these values that
we're trying to move forward.
So I don't know if we have time.
I know Tina is here and she's our next speaker.
I don't know if we have time for questions.
But I just especially want to thank you for the work
that we do.
Do we have a couple minutes?
Speaker: Yeah.
Cecilia Munoz: She's letting me take two.
Donna Maria Coles Johnson: Thank you so much for
being here.
I'm Donna Maria Coles Johnson, and I'm from Washington,
D.C., but I'm representing the Charlotte chapter today from
North Carolina.
And you've spoken in great detail about domestic policy
where jobs and education and things are concerned.
And I'm a small business advocate,
and one of the things that I'm noticing,
and I'm sure you are as well, is that our country and the world
really is moving more towards small business being redefined
really not as small businesses as they are currently defined
but really as individual people.
Cecilia Munoz: Yeah.
Donna Maria Coles Johnson: Owning their own businesses and
working from home.
And I don't see this any more prominent than I do with women.
And I'm the Work At Home Network Director for Mocha Moms,
and so I would like to ask you: I see the President doing a lot
of things.
He has signed an executive order sharing that we need to make
sure that small businesses are taken care of.
The leader of the Small Business Administration has just been
elevated to a cabinet level.
Cecilia Munoz: She is awesome, by the way.
Donna Maria coals Johnson: Yes, she is.
Cecilia Munoz: We know that that's where we're creating jobs
and that's why built into this budget are things like tax
incentives for small businesses.
Built into this community college is the careers program
that I just announced that's $8 billion is a specific program
for entrepreneurs.
So it includes online training programs for folks who can't
necessarily get to a facility that's providing training,
as well as broader hands on in-depth training for people who
are seeking to enter this sector.
And Karen Mills, who is our Administrator of the Small
Business Administration, is both very passionate and very
eloquent about making sure that we're giving people the tools
that they need so that they can enter this sector and be
successful in this sector.
And we know that the first two years for a small business owner
are critical.
That's the critical point.
And she has geared the resources of this,
of her organization of the Small Business Administration.
But we're also gearing the resources of the Department of
Labor and the Department of Commerce and other sectors to
make sure that we are providing the right incentives through our
tax structure, the right supports through experts around
the country to make sure that people know, for example,
how to get into the export sector if you're a small
business that's producing a product,
to make sure that we are helping you gain access to
markets overseas.
This is an area of great energy for this administration.
Because we know that that's how we create jobs.
So thank you for the question and thank you for the work in
this area.
It's great.
One more.
Yes, ma'am?
Delna Gray: Hello, I'm Delna Gray from the Northern Prince
George's County chapter, originally from Los Angeles.
And I used to work with Melody Barnes in the senate.
So I'm really good friends with her.
But I wanted to ask you a question about business and the
mortgage crisis and what's going on there.
I have -- I'm also a stay at home mom,
but I also have a real estate investment company.
So, obviously, my industry has been hit hard by the
mortgage crisis.
And I know the President talked about what he,
the plans he has in terms of implementing the mortgage --
Cecilia Munoz: Yes.
Delna Gray: -- controversy and what he's going to ask the
mortgage companies to do to revamp the mortgages to help
with people who are underwater with their mortgages.
What is he doing in that regard?
And also, because of course as an investor,
the monies has dried up in that area as well.
Is there something that he's doing for investors like myself
and of course all of the women who are sitting here that are
homeowners that would love to see their mortgages -- and these
are people who usually aren't late.
Cecilia Munoz: Right.
This is another great question.
Thank you.
So this is another area of huge need and huge concern.
And this is an area you've been hearing about,
the president making his We Can't Wait announcements.
While we try to work with congress to get the big stuff
done, the big reforms done, we've been scouring to see what
administrative tools that we have in order to make change for
people in the meantime.
And he made a We Can't Wait announcement,
this is a couple months ago now, exactly with respect to
homeowners who are underwater with their mortgages who have
not been able to access the historically low interest rates
that are available to other borrowers right now.
So this is an effort, and this could help more than a million
homeowners who are underwater with their mortgages,
who need to refinance, and to make sure that we make available
to them the capacity to refinance at those rates.
That saves, as you know, that is hundreds of dollars a month,
sometimes more.
To an individual homeowner, that can make or break whether or not
they're able to stay in their homes,
whether or not they are able to make it,
whether or not they are able to reinvest those resources in
their small business.
So this is something that the administration is doing
on our own.
We can do it on a much larger scale with a little help from
the congress of the United States,
but this is an area where we're moving forward and doing as much
as we can for people, because we know how critical it is.
It's certainly critical for the economy,
but it's critical for these families.
And really the focus for all of these efforts,
for the payroll tax deal that we think is going to -- I'm
knocking on wood -- is getting finalized today that includes an
extension of the payroll tax and unemployment insurance.
This is about folks who are working hard and trying to make
ends meet, trying to do their part,
and trying to keep house and home together.
That's been a real focus that's going to continue to be the
President's focus this year.
And, again, we can't do it without you.
So thank you for everything you're doing.
And I will turn it back over.
Heather Foster: So, at this time,
now we have the Chief of Staff to the First Lady and the former
Director of the Office of Public Engagement, Tina Tchen.
Tina Tchen: Thanks, Heather.
And welcome to the White House.
Good morning.
Actually, it's wonderful to see all of you here.
I know you've traveled here.
And it is great to hear about Mocha Moms being out there and
connecting with all of your members.
I will say there was -- you know,
we talked about your being here at the senior staff meeting this
morning, and people were pretty excited to hear about Mocha Moms
and hear about you being here.
(cheers and applause)
So, welcome.
I want to echo where Cecilia left off,
which is reason we're so excited that you're here is that we
cannot do this all alone.
And one of the big things we've been learning over the course of
the last year and a half or so is how little people really
understand about what the President has done.
You know, there's this narrative that's out there that nothing
has happened, and Obama care doesn't help anybody,
and we're not doing anything to help the economy,
and yet we've done a tremendous amount.
And once people learn about that, then they understand,
and then they're supportive.
And so you are so important on getting that message out,
and I really thank you for taking the time.
It's a big chunk of really busy lives for all of you to take the
time to be here to learn that detail,
and we're really grateful for that.
And then we are really grateful for then what you're going to do
on turning around and getting that message out.
The other thing that we've learned through some of the
research that folks have done is actually people don't get a lot
of information anymore from the newspapers or from the
television network news.
They get their information from each other.
You know, people are getting their information from you,
from the articles you send them, not the articles they are
picking up on their own, or the blog posts that you
are putting up.
So your role as messengers here is so important.
So I'm going to do a couple things here,
because like many people in the White House,
none of us does one thing.
We all have to do like multiple things.
So in addition to being Chief of Staff to the First Lady,
which I've been for the last year,
I am also the executive director of the White House Council on
Women and Girls.
So I'm going to talk about both of those things.
(cheers and applause)
So first, for the First Lady, it's just such a treat and a
delight for me everyday, I have to say,
to come in to work in the White House, but not just that,
to sort of go over to the east wing and to work with our first
lady who is just such a remarkable person and a
remarkable leader.
Our Policy Director Jocelyn Frye is going to be here a little bit
later this morning.
She's going to tell you more in-depth about Let's Move,
her effort to end childhood obesity in a generation.
So important to the health of our children and of ourselves.
And she's really passionate in talking about that.
I will say that we just came off of a three-day, four-state,
five-city tour last Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Hopefully you saw some of it along the way,
promoting the second anniversary of Let's Move.
And our First Lady will do anything.
She will do pushups with Ellen.
She will do dancing.
She danced on the stage with 14,000
kids in Des Moines on Thursday doing something called
the Interlude Dance.
She then did the Platypus dance on Saturday in Florida with
Disney characters.
So she will do anything to promote the health of
our children.
So that's so important.
So I'll let Jocelyn fill you in more on that.
Our second initiative, which I also hope you've heard about,
is Joining Forces.
And Joining Forces is the initiative we launched last
April together with Dr. Biden to really support our military
families and our veterans.
I mean, these are families -- (applause)
Absolutely, absolutely.
You know, the statistics are after ten years at war,
you know, really 1% of our country is part of our voluntary
force, and they have really served and protected and made
the ultimate sacrifices for the rest of us.
And I'm in that rest of us, the 99% of us who are not from a
military family.
And, you know, it really is our obligation, the rest of us,
that's a different 99%, that's 99%,
to support our veterans and our military families.
And so often our military families don't wear the uniform,
but they are still enduring nine, ten,
11 deployments of their military family member.
You know, we've got kids who sometimes move 10 times before
they graduate high school.
And we ran into that yesterday at the Pentagon with the First
Lady and Dr. Biden and Secretary Panetta,
and all of the joint chiefs.
Everybody was there to underscore the importance,
talking about spousal licensing.
And this is actually something I'm going to charge you all to
do when you get back home, because it's something everybody
can do in every state.
What this is is there are about one-third of military spouses we
now know are in some sort of licensed occupation.
They are a teacher.
They are a nurse.
They are a dental hygienist.
A real estate broker.
Somebody just mentioned they were a real estate broker.
A lawyer.
Those are professions that are licensed state by state.
And when these military spouses have to move with their military
service member multiple times -- we had a nurse yesterday who
introduced the First Lady who told a story about how at one
time when she moved, she just gave up,
because it took so much paperwork to get her nursing
relicensure when she moved from one state to another.
And so they are losing money in their bank account.
The economy is losing out.
Their kids are losing out.
That's something every state can do.
We can't do it federally.
It's state regulation.
But we're calling upon every state.
About 11 of them have already done it.
We're calling on all the other, the other 38, 39,
to enact state laws.
So in your home state, you know, to laws that will make it easier
for military spouses to either get a temporary license or have
There's lots of different models that can be modeled
to fit your state.
And if you go to,
you'll learn about Joining Forces,
you'll learn about other ways we want everybody to do what they
can, whether it's go over to a military spouse member's house
and offer to baby-sit her kids, or take care of the military
spouse kids who are in your school or in your parish.
You know, if you're an accountant,
help them do their taxes.
You know, it's as simple as sending somebody over to mow
their lawn.
Anything that you can do to help our military families, you know,
we're asking everybody to do what you can to do that.
And it's had tremendous support.
I mean, really, it's just been so great,
and the military family members are so grateful,
and they are really feeling it, which is something that is very
important to the First Lady.
And then I want to spend some time talking about with my
second hat, so the Council on Women and Girls.
And we formed the Council on Women and Girls in March of 2009
by executive order.
It's one of the first executive orders the President issued.
Creating a council that is really all of the federal
agencies across the federal government and every major
White House office.
And when he created it, he did that instead of creating just
one office for women's policy in the White House,
we did it with this council to go across the entire federal
government, because the President said then,
his charge to the cabinet was, every part of the federal
government affects women and girls, some part.
Whether it's their own employees or in what they do in their
policies and programs.
And so every agency as part of what they do every day has to be
to think about how are they affecting the lives of women
and girls.
And Valerie Jarrett is the chair.
I am the executive director.
Valerie is traveling with the President.
Otherwise, she'd be here today.
And she conveys her welcome to you.
I think it's important that Valerie is there.
Because, as you all know, she is one of his closest advisors,
longest friends.
The fact that he gave her this job means that the voice of
women and girls is in the Oval Office every day with him.
It's great.
It has just been great.
So I have to say our federal agencies have stepped up across
the board.
So I talk about small business, I know there was a question
about small business earlier.
You know, we after ten years of languishing,
our administration issued finally the Women Owned Small
Business Rule that gives women owned businesses an equal
footing to get federal contracts.
They are discriminated against in 80 different fields.
(cheers and applause)
We've now issued a federal rule.
It took effect in the spring of last year to give those women
owned businesses a leg up.
We've expanded the number of women business development
centers that the SBA owns.
So now we have 113 of them around the country to provide --
another question over here -- to provide that kind of grassroots
on the ground support for women owned businesses.
Valerie two weeks ago we were just at an urban economic forum
in New York where we had 500 women entrepreneurs from New
York, not only just coming to hear about what the
administration was doing, but to connect with each other.
And we did a mentoring session for them so that they could meet
people who are venture capitalists and funders
and investors.
So we're going to keep doing that around the country.
So that's what we're doing for women owned businesses.
Our Department of Transportation,
I love to talk about it sometimes,
because who thinks about transportation and women's
issues, right.
But Secretary LaHood has been terrific.
One of the first things he did the first year was to enter into
a memorandum with Spellman College.
Oh, there you go!
With Spellman to create opportunities for young women at
Spellman to become engineers, because we know that women
aren't well represented in the STEM field, science technology,
engineering and math.
And so they do not only their academic work while they are at
Spellman, but they come and then they do summer internships at
places like the Highway Transportation Safety
And then he expanded that in year two to ten
additional schools.
I happened to be there at the event where we penned the
memorandum to do that and met this fabulous Spellman,
Spellman Spellman rising sophomore.
So this young lady, if you think about this, she's 19 years old,
she's a rising sophomore.
She just finished her stint at Highway Transportation
Safety Board.
She was so excited to be a highway engineer.
This is what she wanted to be at age 19.
She was great!
So ten more schools we're doing that.
The other favorite example for the Department of
Transportation, we asked everybody to think,
what do you do in every one of your programs that affects women
and girls, and think about how to adjust that.
And as they did that, they realized -- remember,
Transportation does the crash tests for cars, right,
for crash worthiness.
They realized that in the entire 40 year history of that program,
they had never used anatomically correct crash test dummies
for women.
And they started doing that a year ago for the first time.
And you all know, the seat belt kind of hits us a little
differently, little crash experience is a little different
than for men.
And they are now doing.
They've now changed that.
You know, our military, I think you probably saw the
announcement last week where we're expanding the number of
roles that our women in the military, you know,
can serve in.
One of them, my other favorite ones is that for the first time
in history we now have women going on to be officers on
submarines in our Navy.
And this is important, because submariners are to the Navy what
fighter jet pilots are to the Air Force.
It's the way to leadership.
And because they like to take the cream of the crop out of the
Naval Academy, the only way to keep taking the cream of the
crop and putting them on submarines was to expand it to
women, because the cream of the crop coming out of the Naval
Academy are women.
So it's been great.
And then finally, I can't leave the podium without talking about
healthcare, because obviously the Affordable Care Act and the
passage of healthcare reform is so important for women,
for women's health.
You know, women before the passage of the Affordable Care
Act, women and currently now because it's not fully taken
effect, women can pay up to 120% more in premiums than men,
simply because they are women.
And it's called gender discrimination.
It's going to be outlawed when the Affordable Care Act is
fully implemented.
Important things like making sure that if you get breast
cancer, the practice that insurance companies have of
recision, of kicking you off now that you're sick is barred.
They can't kick you off because you've gotten sick.
They can't refuse to ensure you because you have a
preexisting condition.
And we have that important announcement that you all have
probably seen recently in the news of the expansion of women's
prevention health.
So, for the first time, for the first time,
the Affordable Care Act now requires all insurance companies
to cover prevention services at no additional deductible
or co-pay.
That started with kids.
We implemented the kids rule last year.
So for all your children, your well baby care and inoculations,
the kinds of things you need for your kids, are covered.
Without that -- we expanded it this last year to take effect
later on this summer to women's prevention health.
We've never had a standard for women's prevention health.
The mammograms and pap smears and gestational diabetes and for
the first time ever screening for domestic violence victims so
they can get help.
Those are all required to be covered.
And the thing that's gotten a little bit of press lately
is contraception.
We're including birth control as a required for insurers to cover
at no additional cost to health pay.
I mean, we know that 90%, 98% of American women are going to use
birth control at some point.
It's not just -- it avoids unintended pregnancies,
but it's key to avoiding lots of other diseases,
like ovarian cancer.
I was just with the American College of Obstetrics
and Gynecologists.
They feel so strongly about this as an integral part of
women's healthcare.
You know, women have to use birth control for 30 years.
I mean, that is -- that is the span for many women.
It can be as expensive as $600 a year over 30 years.
This is a real cost.
And we know, you know, there is about a third of women who need
birth control who say they can't afford it even today.
So this is what you know we are working on.
We had an announcement last week.
You know, we have tried to strike a balance that recognizes
the religious beliefs of both churches who are accepted and
now as the President announced last Friday,
you know an accommodation for religious affiliated
organizations like hospitals, and social service
organizations, so that they don't have to use their own
money to provide the coverage but the insurers will.
So that we have both women getting coverage that they need,
and religious employers being able to have the respect for
their beliefs that they should have.
And we think that strikes the right balance.
But I do think that there is a rhetoric out there that doesn't
recognize that balance and tries to distort what is going on.
So I hope you learn about what is going on there.
And again, message that out to -- to your members.
And so finally, I mean, I think that again just to echo my
closing -- my closing remarks what Cecelia said,
is the theme is, get that in a word out.
Learn, take what you will hear all day-to-day.
If you have got questions, our Office of Public Engagement,
you know Heather and her team are great at you know let's just
get to them with questions that we have.
If you need more information, go to,
and get that information.
And then re-tweet it out to everybody.
And thank you so much for being here for everything that you are
doing everyday.
Tina Chen: Two questions.
I think we got two questions.
Time for two questions.
All right.
Go ahead.
Kimberly Thomas: Good morning,
my name is Kimberly Thomas and I am a member of Queens Long
Island Chapter.
I am also a mommy blogger,
I do it all.
I also have -- I have so many questions to ask you.
But I will just ask one.
I have a Girls Empowerment Program back in my community.
And I am such a big fan of Michelle Obama and her --
her program.
Everything that she is doing, because I have two
small children.
So the Let's Move works for me.
And the White House Mentoring Program,
I sort of model some of it after my own program.
For the sake of my girls who don't know how to navigate life
and how to get to where they want to go,
they are 12 and 13 years old, what was the path that you took
to where you are today?
Tina Chen: (laughter)
It is hard.
So -- and I have a 15 year old too,
so I know how hard it is to navigate our girls through the
current -- the current waters out there.
You know, I -- we were laughing yesterday because we went to a
luncheon with the Premiere, the Vice-president Shui who is
visiting, and the woman who wrote the Tiger Mom book
was there.
So those of us who are Asian children, yeah, a couple of us.
Chris Lou, sat next to her and we were riding in the van,
and we both said, well, we were all kind of raised
by tiger moms.
Because I said I confess that I was too.
I am not a tiger mom, though.
I think I don't have as much energy to put -- to put into it.
You know, I try to do the no TV during the week,
like the First Lady does, and my daughter calls me everyday at
5:30 and says, all right, homework is down.
Now, can I watch TV?
So you know, for me it was a lot of that.
I came from a family with two girls.
So I think that even though my dad is a Chinese dad,
sort of really was hoping for a son,
but he put -- he put -- he put all of that into his girls which
I think is what helped.
Because I had, I carried with him those hopes and dreams and
aspirations he might have all put into a boy.
He put into me and my sister.
And that really lifted us up.
And pushed us forward to succeed and gave us the self confidence
I think to go through things.
And I think that is what our girls need.
I was a lawyer before coming here.
I did -- I was a lawyer at Skadden & Arps in Chicago for
23 years.
I passed to the White House, I cannot -- I can't really
tell everybody.
As I often say, I can't really tell you how to meet a guy you
know with the big ears and the funny name 20 years ago,
and then have him become President.
I can't quite -- (laughter)
-- I can't quite tell you how to do that to get to the
White House.
It was -- that was just a little bit of fate and faith and
blessing happening there.
But I do think the idea that our girls just need
to have confidence.
We need to give them that self esteem and that confidence and
so they know, you know, as minority women,
it used to happen to me as a lawyer all of the time.
You walk into the room, I am the person there to solve
their problem.
But you know my male partner is taking me in there,
because he is the one who knows them.
And I am coming in because I got a special problem,
I was a trial lawyer.
And -- but the first half the conversation,
it is all going to the guy.
I mean, he is the guy that they are looking to and what -- what
we have to realize is to have the patience to know that
eventually they are going to need the help.
And so whenever they get through -- they get through describing
their problem over here, when they needed the answer,
he doesn't know the answer.
So -- (laughter)
-- right?
So they turn and they look, they turn and look to me.
And then I have got the answer.
And then the whole rest of the conversation,
they are talking to me.
And, you know, you just, you have to have the self confidence
and the patience to know that is going to happen.
To know, you stick to your guns, you do your work.
You are patient.
You know, and it will come to you.
I mean, I often say that.
If you do your work and you are good, it will come to you.
You don't have to sort of be out there kind of making a lot of
noise and nobody is listening to me.
You just -- it will come to you.
So I think -- I think that is -- I think that is the message.
And one more.
In the back there.
Shenia Coleman Kirkland: Hi, my name is Shenia Coleman
Kirkland, and I am the Georgia State Coordinator for Mocha Moms
and the General Council for Mocha Moms,
and I am so excited to be here from Atlanta.
I have a question that is kind of piggybacks on the question
that the At Home Director, Network Director asked,
many of us in this room have kind of taken an alternative
career path.
My background is that I am an attorney.
And many people have decided to work either eliminate their time
in the work force or work part-time, flex time,
those types of things.
And I am wondering you know as economic realities have made it
so that many women have to get back in the work force,
including many of our members, and I am wondering what if
anything the administration is doing to encourage businesses to
look to part-time, telecommuting, flex time?
Tina Tchen: Yup.
Shenia Coleman Kirkland: In particular to find balance for their families.
Well, I am glad you asked that, because it is one of the things
that I should have mentioned and I left off my list.
It is a big issue for us.
The First Lady and the President have both talked about it,
because it is something they both live.
They were both working parents with young children throughout
their entire careers.
You probably heard the story, First Lady often tells the story
of going to her job interview at the University of Chicago
Medical Center having to take Sasha in the baby carrier with
her to the job interview.
And so she knows it.
So we in fact in this very room in March of 2010,
held the first ever White House conference on
workplace flexibility.
And both the President and the First Lady spoke at it.
We issued a report that is still being cited from -- by our
President's Council Of Economic Advisers that laid out the
business case and there is a positive business case.
The businesses that have flexible work arrangements that
allow for part-time, that allow for time off,
allow people to sort of on ramps and off ramps for the careers,
have a better bottom line.
They have lower turn-over, they have a more productive
work force.
They have lower absenteeism.
Those are all things that contribute to the bottom line
and are really critical.
I have done and spoken about this globally.
You know, other countries are doing it.
So to maintain our global economic competitiveness,
this is something that we need to address.
So what we have been doing, we launched that in March of 2010.
Our Women's Bureau from the Department of Labor then had ten
other sessions like that around the country.
They have got a report that they are pulling together on
best practices.
We have been trying to implement best practices in the federal
government as a -- be a model employer.
So we have enacted a tele-work, the Tele-work Act that did get
enacted, and that we have been implementing to try to get
tele-work and other flexible arrangements implemented through
the federal bureaucracy.
One of the things which is also try to work with DOD because
like yesterday's announcement, because they know.
They have got a lot of working spouses.
In the military as well.
And to develop flexible arrangements for that.
It is a challenge.
We would love to sort of hear more input from all of you about
what's working, and what is not working,
what can we do in the federal government to help.
It is a little challenge in the current statutory environment,
the regulatory environment, because it is hard to get new
regulatory pieces put through.
So what we are trying to do is lead by example and also work
with all of the coalitions on workplace flexibility that are
out there to kind of lift this up and make sure people get the
word out.
The -- the -- the economic report to the President by the
CEA will come out.
It is either coming out this week or it is about to come out.
It is a big, thick report on the overall state of the economy to
the President.
But I will give our new chairman Alan Krueger a lot of credit.
He has a special box, look in chapter six when it comes out,
on over all economic trends.
And he has got a special box where he highlights this very
issue of workplace flexibility as one of the trends that is
important to pay attention to as we build our economy of
the future.
So it is something that we are very, very interested in.
So thank you for asking about that.
So thank you all.
Heather Foster: So let's just thank Tina again,
because those were great remarks.
I know you were excited to hear from her.
So it has been a busy morning, and there is always things
going on.
Just like Tina mentioned.
All of us are juggling about three to four things each day,
and sometimes each hour.
So we are really excited that we have had so many speakers.
So we are going have another panel now.
And so not just all women today, but now I am going to introduce
you to my colleague, Kevin Lewis,
who is our Director of African American Media and
Special Projects.
Kevin is going to help moderate this next panel.
And we have some speakers from the Department Of Education.
Tyra Mariani.
And from the Environmental Protection Agency,
I see you in the back, Stephanie.
Ms. Stephanie Owens.
And they are both going to highlight issues on education
and the environment.
And so once again, we'll do the same as before,
they will give about five minutes of remarks and then
we'll take question and answer.
Stephanie Owens: Good morning, ladies.
Audience members: Good morning.
Stephanie Owens: You guys look so beautiful.
It is just so awesome to look out and see all of these
beautiful faces.
I want to start by thanking you for being here and for
congratulating you on being the new face of an environmentalist.
I am Stephanie Owens.
I am from the Environmental Protection Agency and you are
going to hear from our administrator in just a
little bit.
So I am going to keep my remarks very short.
I focus on public engagement at EPA.
And my role is to expand the environmental conversation.
To have more people at the table talking about these issues.
I am -- you have heard about our agency, right?
Job killing, EPA.
No, not so much.
That is not who we are and that is not what we do.
We protect human health and the environment.
Indulge me.
I would like for you to reach in your purse and grab oh,
I don't know, something that you can read.
Maybe some hand lotion, lip gloss,
just any -- anything that has a list of ingredients on the back
of it.
Does anyone have an ingredient say the second or third that has
more than 2 syllables?
All right.
Anybody want to mention what that ingredient is?
Audience member: (inaudible).
Stephanie Owens: Absolutely.
And what does that do?
That is exactly my point.
And so one of the things that our agency does is we work on
chemical safety.
We actually research the chemicals that go into the
products that are used, the products that are used to
produce food, the products that are used in your
cleaning ingredients.
And for the first time, in 2010, Administrator Jackson put a
database of over 83,000 chemicals on the website,
so that should you decide you want to know what it is you are
putting on your face -- (laughter)
-- I am not preaching.
Just teaching.
Should you decide you want to know,
you can actually go on that database and look it up and see
how it impacts you.
There is a lot of conversation about the work that we do.
The regulations that we put forward and we have done some
amazing work and the administrator is going to talk a
little bit about that when she gets here.
But at the same time, it is really important for us to begin
to provide more education, at a community based level.
I don't mean community as in your neighborhood.
I mean community as in the place you are.
Where it matters to you.
So that you know what is in that lip gloss,
so that you know what is in that detergent that you are using.
So that you know what it is you are putting on your table.
So that when your child drops something,
and picks it up and puts it in his or her mouth,
then you know exactly what is going on with
that particular chemical.
One of the other areas that I focus on is
environmental education.
And I have to really applaud Quay and the work that she has
done and the way that your organization has come together
-- behind her leadership.
Your support of our release of the Mercury Air And Air Toxics
Rule was absolutely phenomenal.
You had people talking about an EPA regulation that don't
normally have this conversation.
Usually, it is polarized.
So you have some folks over here and it is all about the earth
and polar bears and conversations that folks don't
necessarily normally have.
And then you have business and industry over here saying it
doesn't work.
And then in the middle, you have everyone else.
And this is the kind of conversation that we want to
begin to have so that people understand how these
environmental rules effect them in their own individual areas.
So I am going to stop now because I want to spend more
time answering your questions.
And just once again, it is an awesome view from where I sit,
so thank you.
Tyra Mariani: Good morning.
My name is Tyra Mariani.
I would like to echo the sentiments of Stephanie.
It is both an honor and a privilege to sit before you to
see a room full of women of color at the White House is a
pretty amazing thing.
And I have to say, I am like a little bit nervous,
just because I am so honored to be in your presence as peers.
Really, I do mean that.
I am the Deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary Arne Duncan here at
the White House.
And as you know, President Obama has made education a major,
major focus for his administration.
When other agencies are seeing cuts, President Obama is always,
always making education a priority and putting more money
into education rather than less or even the status quo.
I wanted to both highlight some of the things that we have
worked on over the last two to three years as well as just to
give you a sense of some of the things that we are looking for
and what the priorities are going forward.
Of course, we had the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
which saved over, I think we had over 325,000 teaching jobs,
Pell Grant, and new reform programs that were funded.
We also made a major investment in early learning.
We just had what was called the Race To The Top Early Learning
Challenge Fund.
As you know probably better than I,
the variability in early learning, you know,
particularly from birth, to pre-K is just all over
the place.
It is anything from right babysitting,
to true children learning languages,
and things of that sort.
So with the early learning challenge,
we really wanted to challenge states to pick up the mantra of
adopting standards and thinking about high quality early
learning programs, so that children are prepared to enter
kindergarten and beyond.
So that was also another major investment.
We also have tried to support meaningful change at the state
level, so, one, you may have heard of the Race To The Top
which focuses on standards and assessments.
Prior to what we call college and career ready standards
curriculum, state standards were all over the map.
And so parents thought that their children were doing well,
because maybe the standards were dumbed down and they
actually weren't.
But through these incentives that we have provided,
we have 46 states that have adopted college and career
ready standards.
And they are beginning to work with the new generation
of assessments.
So whether you're home schooling or you have children in public
schools, I really encourage you to approach your schools and
districts and find out where they are in adopting
these standards.
And are they being implemented?
Are they starting to think about preparing teachers and are
teachers starting to use these standards?
And just so you know, these standards are
internationally benchmarked.
So when -- when kids start learning according to these
standards, we know that they will be
internationally competitive.
Which is a great move.
We are also focusing on turn around.
So our bottom five percent of schools which represent over a
thousand schools across the country,
we call them drop out factories.
When it comes to high schools in particular,
the President has made it a priority through the School
Improvement Grant that we focus on turning around these low
performing schools, so it requires introduction of new
staff including principals and teachers, new curriculum,
and also thinking about adding learning time,
because we know that our kids, sometimes the six hours
isn't enough.
And it can be through enrichment and other programs,
but we want to make sure that our kids have what they need to
go forward.
We are also trying to make college count,
so this isn't a K to 12 agenda, but we also have really focused
on Pell Grants and making sure that post secondary students
have access to Pell Grants.
So since 2009, I am happy to say that Pell Grants are up
by 50 percent.
So instead of 6 million students having Pell Grants,
we now have 9 million students that have access to Pell Grants.
And then also the percentage of young adults with post secondary
degrees is up 2 percent to 42 percent,
which is not nearly enough when you consider the President's
goal of us becoming the leading nation in terms of producing
high -- post secondary graduates, but it is a start.
And the other thing that we have been focused on is
really transparency.
And helping parents and students make informed decisions around
what does college really cost?
What am I going to learn?
And what kind of jobs are the graduates of these
colleges getting?
And so we have really been pushing a transparency agenda
thinking about a score card that is -- an easy to read score
card, that allows parents and students to understand what
value they are getting for the colleges that they are going to.
Going forward, the -- we are continuing to focus on college
costs both continuing that federal support that I talked
about through Pell Grants but then also state reforms.
So we are really pushing states and colleges to think about
making college affordable and of value, of a high quality.
And then we are also focused on freezing the subsidized student
loan interest rate.
It is currently at 3.4 percent.
It is supposed to double later this year to 6.8 percent.
So you can imagine that is something that we want to fight,
fight against in the economic times that we face.
And we are also really focused on teachers.
So we realize that our teachers are nation builders.
They are perhaps one of the most important professions.
And, you know, we realize today that the role is so important,
yet teachers don't feel respected in the way that we
think about the profession.
You know we want to negotiate 15 -- 15 minutes in every given
day, but we realize that teachers are professionals,
that they work way longer than the -- than the eight hours than
the contract may say.
And so the President has called for,
he is actually proposing $5 billion in the FY13 Budget that
really encourages states and districts to think about
transforming the profession.
And so this includes anything from not only thinking about
paying teachers more and so you should -- it should be a
competitive wage that students graduating from college consider
teaching along with engineering and accounting and every other
profession that is out there.
So he is calling for an increase in compensation -- (applause)
-- but then also that the school place that we consider
collaboration, that teachers have career pathways,
so you shouldn't have to leave the classroom in order to make
more money.
But you should have other, you know,
ladders and roles along the way that allow you to
stay in the classroom.
We realize that great principals are equally important,
so we want to make sure that we are investing in the preparation
of our teachers and our principals.
And so these are one of the reforms which is really focused
on the teaching profession as a whole.
How do we transform it?
We look at a silver bullet.
We want to look at evaluations systems,
but it is so much bigger than that.
And we realize that.
So we are calling for $5 billion to in-cent states and districts
that really move towards thinking about transforming the
teaching profession.
And then finally, the other priority is jobs.
Aligning job training and education programs with work
force demand.
The President has called for $8 billion in mandatory funding for
community college to career fund.
And if you saw the State Of The Union Address,
you may remember him mentioning the need to really align what we
are preparing adults to do and the skills that are needed in
the economy.
And so he is proposing for $8 million for community colleges
to really work with businesses in the community to align that
-- that need that is happening.
And the final thing I will say before we open it up for
questions is that we can't do anything without
parent engagement.
It is one thing for this to come from Washington,
and we are going to continue to push for what we think is the
right thing.
But if we don't have parents demanding a better education,
better schools, right, better districts -- (applause)
-- we are just not going to get there.
And so we both want the voice to come from the ground to make
it better.
But then we also want to do what we can to help parents be
informed decision makers in figuring out what the best
schools are for their kids.
So as someone said earlier, we can't do it without you.
But what -- I think your presence here says a lot around
parent engagement and education as a whole.
So that is all I will say and then I will open it up.
Kevin Lewis: Perfect.
Thank you so much.
I am going to moderate and help out here.
Welcome, everyone.
We are going to start with a question.
Who is going to get it?
I have a waving hand.
In the middle.
Here we go.
Waving hand.
Anna Daschel Charles: Thank you.
Kevin Lewis: Please say your name, chapter --
Anna Daschel Charles: Good morning.
Good afternoon.
My name is Anna Daschel Charles.
I am from Johns Creek, Georgia.
And I am representing the North Fulton, Georgia Mocha Moms.
But most important I just want to say I am so thankful and
blessed to be here today.
I am a mom of three boys and my boys are so sharp, straight A's,
advanced levels.
Their ages are six, nine and 11.
I live in one of the most affluent school districts
in Georgia.
However, as far as diversity is concerned,
this is coming toward education.
In our neighborhood, and in our school,
although my children are doing extremely well and they are even
advanced, I find that we still have a challenge and feeling
like I am keeping up.
And my -- our school is predominantly children from
China, they are first generation here.
But from China.
Children from Japan and even children from India.
And I find that these children are entering kindergarten.
My little guy is in first grade, but even in kindergarten,
they are entering maybe speaking two or three languages.
Tyra Mariani: Yes.
Anna Daschel Charles: So you see, which I love my children,
but they do not speak two or three languages.
So you said something that piqued my interest.
You said that you have international benchmarks that
you are enforcing.
Where can I find more information out about that?
Can you share more because I need to know.
Tyra Mariani: So the as I mentioned that 46 states have
adopted college and career ready standards.
Don't ask me which state.
I can't remember off the top.
I think it's Texas was the one that wasn't adopted.
But any way, 46.
The good news is have adopted these college and
career ready standards.
And the standards are internationally benchmarked,
meaning if children are learning according to these standards,
we know that we will be internationally competitive
as a country.
If you -- if you Google what is called, Common Core Standards,
that will tell you exactly which states are a part,
that have adopted these standards.
And then you should inquire within your particular district
or school where they are in terms of adopting the standards.
So that is the gist of it.
And then there are also two consortium that have
been developed.
States are in usually one of the two that are also working to
rethink the assessment so that students are prepared.
You know, we know that today's assessments aren't of high
quality and aren't measuring important skills like
critical thinking.
And so we have two assessment consortiums that have been
formed to align to the common core curriculum.
That is more competitive.
So again, Google Common Core Standards,
and you can also get a sense -- they actually have the standards
on line.
So if you want to look at what students should be learning in
language arts and math by grade level,
the standards are available for you to see.
And then again, you can check, it really varies by district and
by school in terms of their plan for implementation.
But you definitely, again that parent engagement piece,
you want to push.
Where are you guys in adopting these standards?
Are my kids learning?
When can I expect them to adjust to these new standards?
Kevin Lewis: Okay.
So we are going to take an EPA question now.
There we go.
Tasha Fuller: My name is Tasha Fuller.
I am with the (inaudible) of Mocha Moms.
Hi, ladies.
Audience Members: Hi.
Tasha Fuller: My question is an environmental question.
I have a very green child.
I don't know where I got her from.
And we are all into the environment and recycling.
And one thing that I have noticed and it is an education
and EPA question, is that when you go to the schools to
volunteer, they are not recycling.
Stephanie Owens: Absolutely.
Tasha Fuller: They are not teaching sustainability,
they are not composting, they are not doing any of the things
that we need to do in order to make our world a better place
and a greener place.
And I have also noticed on another end, you know,
we just happen to be fortunate when you are a stay at home,
you have a couple of opportunities available to you.
But when we travel to other areas and visit our families,
our neighborhoods don't look like their neighborhood.
Stephanie Owens: Right.
Tasha Fuller: They don't have the same resources going in to
their neighborhoods to actually keep it clean.
And I'm wondering why that is.
I mean, we're all paying taxes.
We're all, you know, living in America and I should never go to
another neighborhood or have to take my child to my grandmother
-- their grandmother's house and see trash all over the street.
I mean, what's up with that?
Kevin Lewis: What's up with that.
Stephanie Owens: Yeah, what's up with that.
Kevin Lewis: Thank you.
Thank you for your question.
Stephanie Owens: First of all,
I'm excited about the question about the schools because you're
absolutely correct.
And last year Administrator Jackson and Secretary Duncan
created an initiative.
It's called Green Ribbon Schools.
So that initiative actually focuses on bringing more
environmental information in to the schools in a voluntary way
because the teachers are very busy and you can talk to this,
teaching to test, and their budgets are cut tremendously.
And someone mentioned earlier that even things like recess,
where children don't have an opportunity to do that.
So there's a limited amount of time that the teachers feel as
though they have and it's the limited amount of money that the
administrators of those schools feel that they have.
But through this initiative, EPA and the Department of Education
are working together to identify schools across the nation that
are -- will then be given green ribbons as these green ribbon
schools and hopefully that will become a model for a very easy
and voluntary way to incorporate some of these green activities
into the school setting.
On the inequality of community maintenance and solid waste,
is basically the question that you're asking about,
so the federal government, we set up federal regulations and
we provide funding to states who then provide funding to
counties, who then provide funding to cities,
and it's that flow that often causes the disconnect in terms
of what actually happens from one community to another.
So the federal policy, our federal policy on solid waste is
the same in all of the states, but what states are funded in
which ways and how that moves down to actual local government
and what they're able to do, that's all a local decision.
So these kinds of conversations are the kinds of conversations
that you would have with your local municipalities about the
issue that you're raising.
But from a federal level the regulations are all the same;
it's just how they're implemented at the local level
that's always different.
Did you want to add to that?
Kevin Lewis: Okay.
Let's we're going to switch back over to education.
Tyra Mariani: She set it off.
Kevin Lewis: Okay, waving your hand
all the way in the back.
Cree Davis: Hello, my name is Cree Davis,
I'm one of the presidents of Atlanta South Fulton Chapter.
And I want to say thank you for recognizing
that Mocha Moms is a powerful grassroots organization.
Mocha Moms is a very strong organization.
But I have a plea.
I have a nonprofit organization that is another one Big Sis Lil
Sis, Inc., and one of the things that we incorporated is help
with breast feeding.
You know, we've heard today about health care.
But all of that really starts as from a baby with breast feeding
which in our community, some of, I'm pretty sure most of us in
here have breast fed because we have that educational level,
but I'm standing here for the girls that are in my
organization who don't have that chance.
And my organization is their chance.
We teach them how to breast feed literally with our hands.
Is there a way we can use media, commercials,
the way that McDonald's, McDonald's pushes burgers and
fries -- (laughter)
-- on our community, can we use that same effort and push
breast feeding?
Can we use that same effort and push how important education is
in a fun commercial to the kids, you know,
that are in our communities, urban,
some of the rough urban communities that where the
children are sitting there watching TV all day because mom
is at work, they can be-- this can feed into them as well.
And the more they see it the more their minds will
be renewed.
So is there a way we can do that?
Is there a way you all can use more of the media as far as
commercials to push some of these things to our children in
the rough urban neighborhoods?
Stephanie Owens: The answer is yes and only because I still
see her sitting here, I'm going to punt back to -- (laughter)
-- because really it's very appropriate for Dr. Nadine to
speak to how, with her work at the Department of Health and
Human Services and especially her work with disparities,
and I'll just tell you HHS does amazing PSAs.
The CDC does amazing PSAs.
And so I absolutely think that there is an engagement activity
that could happen.
And I think that that's sort of square in your area, Doctor.
Dr. Nadine Gracia: And so, yes, I mean,
I think the influence and the use of social media is amazing,
social media, mainstream media for us to get these
messages across.
We have actually a program called "Text for Baby" because
you know about the use of the cell phones, for example,
I use the cell phones and this is a free service actually where
you can get text messages sent to your phone if you
are pregnant.
So actually it will tell you in the course for your pregnancy,
okay, it's time for this test so you should be going to see your
obstetrician -- (cross-talk)
Audience Member: So how do you hear about that?
Dr. Nadine Gracia: I'm telling you right now.
Audience Members: So doctor's orders for today.
Dr. Nadine Gracia: You can go to Women's or you can
actually just go to "Text for Baby" you'll find it but our
Women's -- someone is helping me get this information
-- and it continues actually after you've had the baby as
well so that you know it's time for the two-month checkup,
it's time for the baby to get these vaccines and the
four-month check-up.
This is a great tool because we know the high usage rate of
text messaging.
These are some of the innovative ways that we are trying to get
health messages out there besides just expecting that
you're just going to get back in the doctor's office by going and
have routine care.
But we're also, we're tweeting, we're blogging.
The Surgeon General is doing this as well.
So there are those mechanisms if you go to my office's website
which is again Google Office of Minority Health or it's
If you can't remember all of that just Google Office of
Minority Health@HHS.
You can sign up for many of these things to get information
but certainly "Text for Baby" if you haven't heard about it
please spread the news.
Audience Member: I just wanted to add that "Text for
Baby" has already reached out to us so it's in the works.
Stephanie Owens: Wow!
Kevin Lewis: Okay.
Okay, I feel so bad, I feel so bad.
So I was just looking at Twitter and John Carson,
who is our Director of the Office of Public Engagement,
he tweeted, "Hey, I'm coming down to speak to
the Mocha Moms."
So he's here.
I definitely encourage you all to tweet if you have,
I saw you have about three, over 3,
000 followers so for the folks who aren't here you can,
you know, start to dialogue.
I'm going to call up John Carson right now so you can --
John Carson: Good morning!
Audience Members: Good morning!
John Carson: How's it going so far?
Audience Members: Great.
John Carson: Had some great people come by?
Learned a lot.
Well, look, I am just here to, first, as many others have said,
to say welcome to the White House.
But they sent me up here with an "ask" of all of you.
But it's an ask that I know this is a crowd that is very good at
and that is tell your story of what you experienced here today.
What you learned here today.
What you learned from each other.
What you learned from Administration officials.
You know, it's very fitting that I'm making this ask after the
exchange that just happened because here's what I have to
tell you.
I work on public engagement.
My job wakes me up in the middle of the night as to how we can
make sure more people understand how the federal government can
be a partner with them, with their organization,
with their community.
And here's what I have learned.
The New York Times is wonderful.
The Washington Post runs a decent story now and then.
But I tell you what, the number 1 way that people find out what
is going on in this country, they find out how the federal
government has something that can help them,
is one-on-one conversations.
It's that blog posting.
Look, I know the power of what Mocha Moms can do.
My wife and I, wherever we've moved we're on the local Mommy
Blog we follow and that's how, and, you know, we're busy,
when some pediatrician that we've never met on that list
serve says you really shouldn't be using this formula,
you should use that one, we just go with it.
That's how-- (laughter)
The Affordable Care Act, right?
You've talked about it this morning.
Here's what I want you to understand.
The number 1 way that people have found out how it can help
them, that website they can go to,
is not some New York Times or Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
article about the politics of the Affordable Care Act;
it is one mom sitting next to another at a basketball game
saying I just got my 22-year-old on my insurance,
have you done it yet?
These are not extra things.
Tweeting is not some nice side thing that happens.
This is the number 1 way information moves today.
So my simple ask is talk about what you liked here.
Talk about what you didn't like.
Talk about the information you learned.
But for two different reasons.
First is for the information that you will share.
The collective power, the collective networks of this
incredible group of community leaders will reach more people
than the President's trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin yesterday.
But there's a second reason that I ask you all to be so vocal
tweeting, writing, blogging, pull someone aside at the
grocery story tomorrow, is that what we need in this country
right now is more people understanding and believing that
we can make our country better and stronger.
More people believing that they can be a part of it.
And when they see that a community leader like you that
they know, that they're on your e-mail list,
that they've seen you at work, when they see that you were at
the White House, you were a part of making change happen,
they're going to believe that they can be a part of it, too.
So be vocal.
Tweet me.
I am at JohnCarson44.
We're going to be doing a Twitter session with a number of
you later this afternoon.
I look forward to it.
And thank you so much for what you're doing every day.
And back to Kevin.
Kevin Lewis: Okay.
And we have another guest.
Okay, so we're going to take about a couple more questions.
Before we continue, since there are so many great -- I see all
the hands shaking -- I just want to -- can you take the
opportunity just to share your contact information so if any of
the Mocha Moms have questions for you they can reach out to
you directly.
Stephanie Owens: Sure.
It's Owens, O-W-E-N-S.
Owens, O-W-E-N-S.Stephanie, S-T-E-P-H-A-N-I-E,
Tyra Mariani: And I'm not a tweeter.
But you can have my e-mail address which is Tyra.Mariani.
If you -- I'll spell it for you but if you have it on the agenda
it's T-Y-R-A.M-A-R-I-A-N-I @ E-D as in
So Tyra Mariani@ --
Kevin Lewis: Okay, so we're going to take one more question.
Time for two more questions?
So we have two more questions.
See the words voluntary, collective -- (cross-talk)
All right.
Here we go.
How could I say no?
She's shaking her hand.
Akilah Jefferson: I'm Akilah Jefferson,
Co-President for Southern Prince George's County Chapter of the
Mocha Moms.
Audience: Whooooo!
Kevin Lewis: Welcome.
Akilah Jefferson: And I so, so, so value education.
I'm actually an instructor at a local community college that's
going workforce development, so helping,
and I'm over in Southeast, D.C., helping people, you know,
learn a craft, learn a skill, get back out there.
My question to you involves how the Administration addresses the
individual needs of our students.
So as opposed to, you know, we kind of, you know,
over the years have done it because we've done it that way
have a factory model of education,
how are we addressing those individual needs,
supporting specialty programs in, you know,
Mandarin Immersion schools and things like that within our
public school system?
So that's my question.
Kevin Lewis: Thank you.
Tyra Mariani: That was a great question.
I so absolutely agree with you and I talked about the need to
transform the teaching profession, it's because we,
you know, you said earlier when I walked in that we're not
preparing our kids for the kind of jobs that we were prepared
for; it requires a different kind of preparation.
It's really a local decision in terms of what kinds of schools
and so we certainly are promoting states and districts
to create a different portfolio of schools whether that -- and
that's not necessarily charter or traditional school but that
is the Mandarin Immersion Program,
that's career academies that's, you know, really,
places with really small class sizes or maybe students
with disabilities.
And part of this standard is saying in developing the common
core curriculum, which we didn't do, states have done,
is to define what we think students need to know and be
able to do.
And so our funding, whether it's through "Race to the Top" or
school improvement grants have really pushed states and
districts to come together in terms of deciding what students
need to know and be able to do but allow teachers to decide
along with parent engagement what's necessary for
those students.
One of the things that we're really encouraging and have put
out is the technology plan to say we realize that student
learning is individualized and technology is a great enabler
when you're in a classroom of 20 kids or 30 kids or more,
that you can really leverage technology to look at
individualized student needs.
And we're also supporting collaboration with teachers
because we think that it's through teachers talking about
students that you can understand student needs.
If you just put that teacher alone in the classroom and you
don't give him or her time to talk to other teachers about
Johnny is really struggling with this or, you know,
Sarah is really acting out, I don't know what's going on,
and that, through that collaboration you can sort of
figure out what the student needs are.
So I'd say that our incentives and even our ESCA flexibility so
"No Child Left Behind" really strict at mandating and
punishing schools but allowing states to come up with
accountability systems that look at different needs of students
and how they're performing, including subgroups so that they
can meet those needs at the local level.
Kevin Lewis: Okay.
(cheers and applause)
Shelley English Figaro: I'm Shelley English Figaro and
I am one of the founders of this organization.
(cheers and applause)
This is one of the proudest moments in my life.
And this is a dream come true.
Thank you.
Thank you, very much, for this.
I have a question.
The little boy who was four years old,
my son who was four when we founded this organization,
is now a man, he's in college, that's how long we've been
doing this.
I'd like to know what explanation have the colleges
given you in terms of their justification for their prices.
We just went through the college admission process,
he's a freshman now, and the average college
is $52,000 a year.
We really ended up basing our decision,
in terms of where to send him, on pure finances because we
simply couldn't afford to send him to some of the colleges that
he got into because they were 52, 53, $54,000 a year.
And many Mochas don't have children as old as I do --
-- but I want to know what have the colleges told you?
What information?
And what really can be done?
Thank you.
Tyra Mariani: So part of the issue has
been state aid to colleges.
And that is with the economy taking the hit the way it has,
state budgets have decreased what they have given to those
colleges and universities and so colleges and universities have
then passed that cost on to students.
And so we've really focused through the Pell Grants trying
to give more aid.
But that's not enough because then they, you know,
you're almost sort of, I don't want to say contributing to the
problem, but you're helping students to pay for,
students and parents to pay for, but it doesn't help if the cost
keeps going up.
And so a really major push, particularly over the last
several weeks and going forward, is offering, you know,
thinking about a competition, thinking about the aid that we
give to states so that they can start to think about how to make
college more affordable and really incenting and giving
tuition and scholarships to places that are giving a real
value to your point of, like, I've got to make a decision and
they are tradeoffs.
I would say, but to answer your question,
the primary reason has been around reducing state aid to
colleges and universities and having to pass that cost on.
But I think relatedly colleges and universities really have to
start thinking about how they do things differently.
And so personalizing learning at the college level is also
equally important in thinking about online learning and other
ways of getting that information out.
And so I'd say one of the current pushes that the
Administration is really making colleges and universities
rethink how they deliver what they're teaching and delivering
it so that it's a value to schools.
Kevin Lewis: All right.
And I know this is going to be a lightning rod,
I feel so bad on that side, I have to do it -- on this side,
I'm sorry, sorry, so the last question for real this side.
Audience Members: Ooh!
Shoshana Biknear: My name is Shoshana Biknear
and I represent the Essex County Chapter in New Jersey.
So I actually come on a couple of different fronts.
I come as a Mocha Mom but I come to you all asking questions both
as a teacher and as a mother and as a parent.
"No Child Left Behind" is a hallmark of the Bush era and it
was the first of its kind to establish benchmarks for schools
to hold teachers and administrators accountable to
promote achievement for all students.
So I love that.
So for everything that's been said about it,
I really appreciate that there is being ratification to it to
make it better.
Just before I get into the next part I want to
Big Up for Obama --
-- for being a part of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
I just want to say if you don't know about that,
you need to know, it allows teachers,
child care providers and other service individuals to stay in
the professions.
And for somebody who came out of college having
$50,000 in student loans, I am only two years away
from having forgiveness.
But I unfortunately come broken-hearted knowing that the
policy needs to be ratifi-- amended in terms of "No Child
Left Behind" because I am now back working in Newark,
New Jersey, working as a literacy specialist.
And I firsthand witness the pain and humiliation of a 5th grade
student who is not able to read.
I want to know what funds are being allocated for early
intervention programs to put educated,
dedicated professionals in front of our kids at the early
childhood education level to minimize special education
budgets that come later down the road.
And you talked about "Race to the Top" which is largely based
on test scores and I'm here representing all of you knowing
that the gap starts long before our kids ever take a test.
What is being done to hold our communities accountable for our
children, not just the parents and the teachers.
And in terms of like with, I know you said a lot,
you said something briefly about the early learning challenge and
I want to know where to get more info for that because now that
I'm back in the classroom and I'm working with teachers who
are absolutely dedicated to these kids,
there's so many teachers out there that are trying to stay in
this profession.
I could have gone on to be a lot of other things but I believe in
our kids.
I believe in my kids.
I believe in your kids.
I didn't come through school going to the best
private schools.
I went to schools at some of the worst public schools but I
turned out here in the White House.
So -- (applause)
-- our public schools work.
Even though many of us are affluent and we have the
opportunity, advocate even if the children are in private
schools, advocate for the public schools.
(cheers and applause)
Heather Foster: So, thank you, very much.
That was, I mean, I think we have to say that we're all
inspired by the fact that you sat there,
you've listened to everything that the speakers said.
You realized how it related to your life and that's what makes
everybody here in this room work as hard as we do every day.
And understand that that message,
that passion that you have, the tears that you are shedding,
our President understands that, and that's why he employs us to
work as hard as we can to make sure that you have programs like
the Public Loan Forgiveness Program.
So just know that.
Just know that.
And so, you know, I have the pleasure of working with Michael
Strautmanis and a lot of times people here in D.C., they know,
they call him Straut --
Michael Strautmanis: Wait, you're not going to do this.
I thought I was going to come --
Heather Foster: Yes.
Michael Strautmanis: Well, first of all,
we'll get you answers to your questions so you get the
information that you need so we will do that.
Sorry, I knew you were going to do that anyway.
We'll get it.
I can't stand here while you do that.
Heather Foster: He's just going to drop by
to say some few words.
He heard you ladies were in the building today.
He's actually on travel but wanted to stop in and say some
brief words.
But you are, you know, passionate,
and I just have to address it and say thank you.
So we're going to make sure Straut does answer your question
but we're going to allow him to give some brief remarks so he
can be on his way.
Michael Strautmanis: I am, so these folks,
they work for me so they have to let me come and speak.
So I'm going to interrupt briefly because I wanted to come
by and say a couple of things.
So my name is Mike Strautmanis.
It's great to see everybody here.
How you doin'?
Audience Members: Fine.
Michael Strautmanis: I wanted to say a few things
that I want you all to know.
Valerie Jared and the President are on the West Coast,
but they would want me to say the following: Number 1,
we cry a lot around here.
We do.
Because it's a tough time -- see,
I'm getting choked up right now -- and my team who works for me
know that I'm a big crier.
But it's because we care.
And it's because we're -- our emotions and why we get up every
single day are wrapped up in this.
The other thing I wanted to say, particularly specifically just
for the Mocha Moms is that, you know, we see you.
You know, I -- my mentor and the first person really
professionally who looked out for me was Michelle Obama,
the First Lady of the United States.
I work for Valerie Jared, she's my boss, and I see her,
we meet three times a day, we e-mail 150,
she's is on that e-mail jag.
And, you know, between my mom and my wife and my daughter,
these amazing sisters that we have here who are incredible,
who are doing exactly what you're doing but just in a
different setting, who are juggling exactly what you're
trying to juggle to manage their parents and their families and
their communities and their professions,
and their children and everything else.
I guess I just want you to know that what you're doing and the
way you're doing it just that's the way it's supposed to be.
Don't let people make you feel like you need to change somehow
how you're doing what you're doing in order to fit in to some
notion about what is success and what this country is supposed
to be about.
If there is nothing else you should take away from this,
know that the way you operate, the way you roll,
is happening at the highest levels of the United States
of America.
(cheers and applause)
The President is trying to, you know,
do his job and be a good husband.
And be a good father.
And take care of his health.
His wife is doing the same thing,
but as I said about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers,
on heels backwards.
And so, and that ethic and that faith and that determination to
do everything right the way you all do,
looking at you I think about my wife,
her determination to do everything right and have
everything happen at the highest standard,
that's how they got to where they are.
Nobody gave them anything.
Nobody gave you anything.
So as we continue to do this work,
as we try to accomplish what needs to be accomplished in
order to make sure that we have an economy that's built to last,
that has opportunity for everyone,
just know that we're going to need you,
not as supporters -- yes, we're going to need you as supporters
-- but we're going to need you as guides.
We're going to need you as inspirations.
We're going to need you as innovators who can show us the
way things are going to work well in the community so that we
can do the same thing and have that reflected here.
So this is a real partnership; that's why we did this.
It's not to start something.
But to reflect what is.
And to reflect what has already happened.
And to affirm you and to affirm us because this is why we do
what we do.
So I just want to thank you for the spirit and energy that you
brought into us.
This place was been crackling all day.
I saw some of y'all coming in as I was going into work today --
-- and you all were cracklin' on 17th Street and Pennsylvania
Avenue, talking to each other and I'm gonna tell them this and
I'm gonna say that and, you know, we're going to do this.
And you all have so much energy around governing, right?
Around education.
And around an economy.
And around health care.
And around our environment.
Around what's real.
So, yes, you know, J and B, they had their baby and I know that's
important and we gotta talk about it.
And we lost Whitney and that was a tragedy and I know we want to
talk about that.
And what our children are wearing when they're in school
and all that stuff, you know, yes, I want to talk about that.
But I want to talk about this, too.
Michael Strautmanis: Thanks a lot, everybody.