First lady foreshadows speech with guest selection
First lady Michelle Obama and guests take their seats at President Barack Obama's State of the Union address on Jan. 25
September 8th, 2011
04:43 PM ET
11 years ago

First lady foreshadows speech with guest selection

Washington (CNN) – First lady Michelle Obama has invited a diverse array of business executives, military personnel and workers – both well known and unknown – to sit in her box at President Barack Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress on Thursday.

The selection of 24 guests and what each guest is noted for in the White House release of guests are considered indicators as to what the president's speech may address.

On Monday, Sept. 12th, CNN will broadcast the "Tea Party Republican Debate," live from Tampa, Florida at 8 p.m. ET. Follow all the issues and campaign news leading up to the debate on and @cnnpolitics on Twitter.

Among those attending the speech will be Jeffery Immelt, CEO of General Electric and the chairman of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and Steve Case, co-chair of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Richard Trumka, president of the large labor union.
A number of prominent politicians will also sit with the first lady.

Maryland Governor and former Mayor of Baltimore Martin O'Malley, noted in the White House release for "spurring innovation in all sectors of business, academia, and government," has been invited, along with Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

The White House release notes that Villaraigosa implemented "a sales tax increase to invest in creating 166,000 transportation jobs in Los Angeles."

Dannie and Sabrina Mangrum will also sit with the fist lady and the White House notes a "tax cut would benefit their family as they are looking for ways to provide for their children and their education." According to White House sources, the president's job plan could include a $120 billion to extension of the current payroll tax cut.

Hector R. Sealey, another guest of the first ladies for tonight's speech, has been working for 30 years in the construction industry, states the White House release. "Hector, along with almost a million workers, is at risk of losing his job if Congress does not act and the transportation bill expires," states the guest list.

President Obama has said that his plan for Congress will look to help the struggling construction industry. White House sources have indicated that the plan could devote up to $100 billion to fixing roads and bridges.

The military will be represented in the first ladies box.

Joseph Kidd, a Navy hospital corpsman that has been deployed twice to Iraq, had lunch with the President on his August bus tour through the Midwest. A release by the White House stated Kidd asked "the President to help with credentialing programs that would allow a service member to take his or her skills from the military directly into the private sector."

Other guests are as follows:

  • Darlene Miller, CEO of Permac Industries
  • Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express
  • Dr. Albert Green, CEO if Kent Displays
  • Jan Heister, chairperson for Premiere Tooling
  • Philip Maung, founder of Hissho Sushi
  • Gracey Ibarra, graduate of WIA Youth Program
  • John Reftery, CEO of Patriot Contractors, U.S. Marine
  • Nicole Gentile, third grade teacher
  • Kelcie Fisher, senior in high school
  • Kirk Bergstro, project engineer for Denver Transit Patners
  • David Catalano, co-founder Modea, a digital advertising agency
  • Jessica Pickett, firefighter/medic for Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department
  • Marlena Clark, graduate of Anne Arundel Community College
  • Tamara Washington, single mother of three

Filed under: Congress • Jobs • Michelle Obama • President Obama
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Steph

    Well, that beats Boehner's list of business execs who think they can regulate themselves. Do you think that White Castle should be allowed to police it's own food safety, Mr. Boehner, really???

    September 8, 2011 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  2. ConservaFASCISTS/TEAliban/TEAhadists

    The FLOTUS' guests are real Americans, while Speaker Boehner's are a bunch of NRA toting registered republicans.

    September 8, 2011 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |

    I like her guest list better than I like Boehner's.

    September 8, 2011 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  4. "The GOP biggest deception is getting the Poor and Middle class to believe they are out to help them"

    Well her list looks much better than the Speakers!!! LOL

    September 8, 2011 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  5. Rickster

    lol...what a clown Obama is............this is a teleprompter reading that shouldn't even be taking should be a routine policy statement coming out of the white house or, at best, a speech from the oval office. Obama is such a clown he thinks it's a state-of-the-union speech. lol.....what a clueless buffoon.

    September 8, 2011 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  6. Marie MD

    Michelle Obama is such a class act. She seems to genuinely like people while at the same time you can tell that she is not one who likes fools.

    September 8, 2011 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  7. The Elephant in The Room

    You know I`m a little miffed at the "Speaker of the House" inviting guests to the President`s address.

    I see it as a inappropriate. The First Lady has invited guests for at least 30 years but I don`t know that the speaker has.

    Nor, from a protocal standpoint, should the Speaker be inviting guests to hear content from the President. While it is unlikely, the President could want to present sensitive info and therefore want tight controls on the audience. In corporate America, the recipients of such a message would NEVER presume to invite someone else.

    September 8, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    I guess the GOP doesn't have a lock on the "job creators" huh? Who'd a thunk? There are actually CEOs out there who aren't just money-grubbing randian trickle-down greed-is-good wannabe Masters of the Universe who want to squash labor rights and destroy the middle-class in a gambit to control the country and thru it, the world? Shocking....perhaps the GOP can explain to us why a CEO of a major credit card company would actually support the administration's economic policies if tax cuts for the rich, deregulation and eviscerating the societal safety net are the "only ways to prosperity."

    September 8, 2011 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  9. stayintrue

    Oh PULEEZE, each and every one of those guests is a front for the president to call out their names and call them "workin' folks' and use them to make a point. Why wasn't he thinking of them for the past three years? Yeah he was going to focus like a LASER on jobs, last year, the year before-–blah, blah blah. Of course now Jeffrey Immelt has millions/billions/ makes millions, pays NO TAXES and sends jobs over seas. He's the guy they want there, he's got the money, but no one is going to mention his little secret, because he is in the presidents select circle.

    September 8, 2011 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    "it should be a routine policy statement coming out of the white house or, at best, a speech from the oval office."

    Why? So GOPers could run around like their hair is on fire screaming that Obama takes nonse of the economic problems seriously? Take off the tinfoil hat,'s cutting into your scalp and restricting the blood flow.

    September 8, 2011 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  11. Rick McDaniel

    All the Dem supporters they could round up, I am sure.

    September 8, 2011 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "The definition of insanity, Albert Einstein once famously put it, is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result," said McConell"

    You mean like cutting taxes for the extremely wealthy and corporations? Or maybe deregulating industries by removing regulatory barriers to behaviors that have a direct and immediate effect on the public's health and drinking water or pesticides or air quality, etc.? Or maybe let's deregulate the financial industry all over again and then ignore what regulations do exist? And hey, things were ever so peachy for the eldery and retired persons befoer SS and Medicare, why did we even enact them in the first place...must've just been a lark...we should return to the way things were before those programs because doing it that way was obviously working so much better we shoudl do it again? Pesky minimum wage and 40 hour work weeks...grumble grumble...weekends are an unaffordable entitlement program yadda yadda...why innovate when we have perfectly good coal and oil blah blah blah...who said children need accurate text books?

    September 8, 2011 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  13. KansasGirl

    She had a "sock" stuffed in her mouth, before the "first family" goes to Bali. See how this works?

    September 8, 2011 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  14. Ex-Moderate Republican

    Good group of people that really represent America.

    September 8, 2011 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  15. Mary

    Guess Michelle was able to fit this in before another one of her many vacations that we pay for, but can't afford to take our own family on.

    September 8, 2011 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  16. Woman In California

    You see people REALLY aren't corporations. Thank you First Lady. Republicans don't know the difference.

    September 8, 2011 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  17. Michigan conservative

    Michelle Obama .. a class act? Please ... the women who hates this country? The woman who takes a second private jet to Martha's Vinyard because she and the president couldn't "coordinate their schedules"? And they had the audacity to criticize the Auto CEO's for their use of private jets? What hypocrites! Michelle is the biggest one of them all. All their expensive vacations, while the rest of us are barely making it? They want to preach to the rest of us how our lives should be, how we should all use less energy and "tighten our belts". Let's see them set the example.

    September 8, 2011 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  18. Angy

    I hope people take note is it a group that really represent America. Unlike the repugs. Come on people wake up. President Obama is working for ALL America again UNLIKE the repugs who ONLY work for the rich.

    September 8, 2011 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC

    Comparing Mrs. Obama's guest list to Speaker Boehner's gives us a revealing insight into what it really means when conservatives say the "American people want .... blah." Repubilcans seem to want to only listen to CEOs. The elite in our society.

    September 8, 2011 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |