Office of Public Engagement

President Obama Drops by Youth Initiative De-Brief

President Barack Obama drops by a meeting with young leaders

President Barack Obama drops by a meeting with young leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, June 6, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Yesterday afternoon, I had the privilege of leading a meeting with 10 incredible young Americans who had participated in the “100 Youth Roundtables” Initiative and came to Washington, DC for a de-brief with President Obama, his Senior Staff, and DC-based youth advocates.

The young leaders were joined by Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Nancy-Ann DeParle (Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy), Zakiya Smith (Senior Policy Advisor for Education), Macon Phillips (Director of Digital Strategy), and myself in the Roosevelt Room of the White House for a listening session on the topics that young leaders discussed in their respective roundtable sessions all over the country. The leaders briefed the White House on their conversations and solutions around jobs for young people, youth entrepreneurship, workforce development, energy & the environment, global poverty, racial & ethnic profiling, human rights, and LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) policy.

Halfway through the meeting, President Obama dropped by (with Bo in tow), and after meeting everyone, took a seat and talked about a range of topics: from the economic situation to climate change, education, incarcerated youth, Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, the Social Work and Reinvestment Act, and civic engagement.

Participants of yesterday’s de-brief were chosen from the feedback sheets we received (from folks who organized roundtables in their communities), and reflected the trends that were discussed nationwide (the data from all roundtables will be launched with the E-book in a couple of weeks).

We listened and de-briefed on the roundtables & issues that young Americans raised as the most important, and learned how they are dealing with and successfully tackling specific challenges in their communities. Some pretty cool video from the meeting, as well as an announcement that the President made to the leaders in the room are coming your way soon, so check back on our blog and sign up for the newsletter to stay connected!

The full list of participants are:

  • Fatima Al- Zeheri, Arab & Muslim American Youth Roundtable (AZ)
  • Sujatha Jahagirdar, Political Director, Student Public Interest Research Groups (DC)
  • Xavier Jennings, Youth Build Denver (CO)
  • Ian Johnson, Research Fellow, St. Croix Institute for Sustainable Community Development at the University of Wisconsin River Falls (WI)
  • Esther Lee, Co-Chair, Minnesota Alliance With Youth Board of Directors (MN)
  • Tobin van Ostern, Network Associate, Campus Progress (DC)
  • Ryan O’Toole, Fordham University Student Body President (NY)
  • Javier Pinedo, Gay Straight Alliance Youth Council of Northern California (CA)
  • Aaron Smith, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Young Invincibles (DC)
  • Sarah Tarrant, Masters Student, Ohio State University (OH)
  • Sam Vaghar, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Millenium Campus Network (MA)   
  • Layla Wright, Youth Build Kingsport AmeriCorps Case Manager (TN)
  • Shengxiao Yu, Chicago District Director, Millenium Campus Network (IL)

White House participants:

  • Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President
  • Nancy-Ann DeParle, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy
  • Macon Phillips, Director of Digital Strategy
  • Zakiya Smith, Senior Policy Advisor for Education
  • Kalpen Modi, Associate Director of Public Engagement and Youth Liaison
  • Bo, The First Dog

 Kalpen Modi is Associate Director of the Office of Public Engagement

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