Behind the Lens: Photographing the President in 50 Countries

Today, President Obama visits Kenya — the 50th country he has visited during his Administration. It’s also my 50th country traveling with the President.

To mark the occasion, as I did when the President visited his 50th state, I chose one photograph from each country that we’ve visited.

Traveling abroad with the President is very different.

Often times, I am at the mercy of the host country for access. Some countries are more accommodating to me than others. I am lucky to have counterpart official photographers in many countries who are extremely helpful to me in this regard. I of course try to return the help to them when they visit the White House with their head of state.

We’re also rarely in any one country for more than a couple of days, which gives us only a partial glimpse of each place. And because of security, the sites we are able to visit are often limited too.

All that said, we’ve had the incredible opportunity to visit the Pyramids in Egypt, Stonehenge in the United Kingdom, the Great Wall in China, Petra in Jordan, and the Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar (Burma). (So I really shouldn’t complain too much.)

I hope you enjoy this gallery. And stay tuned — we’ll be adding a photograph from Kenya and additionally, Ethiopia, following his visit next week.

Afghanistan, 2012

Boarding Air Force One at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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West Wing Week: 07/17/15 or, “Barack-amole”

This week, the President secured a historic nuclear deal with Iran, traveled to Oklahoma to highlight the administration's work on criminal justice reform and the ConnectHome Initiative, designated three national monuments, spoke at the White House Conference on Aging and dropped by the Kids' "State Dinner."

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Behind the Lens: Photographing the President in 50 States

This week, the President will visit South Dakota, marking the 50th state he has visited during his administration (as such, it's also my 50th state with him). To mark the occasion, I chose one photograph from each state that we’ve visited. This was not as easy as I thought it would be. With help from photo editor Phaedra Singelis, I tried to depict a variety of situations. Some are more lighthearted; some are sad, and some are poignant. Some are with the Vice President; some are with the First Lady, and a couple are with the entire family. A selection of photos are centered on policy, and others on politics. Some focus on the President as Commander-in-Chief -- others on his role as consoler for the nation.

I hope you enjoy this gallery. And stay tuned -- we’ll be adding a photograph from South Dakota following his visit there on Friday.

Alabama, March 7, 2015. Marching at the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Alabama, March 7, 2015. Marching at the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Alaska. Nov 12, 2009. Air Force One refueling at Elmendorf Air Force Base. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Alaska. Nov 12, 2009. Air Force One refueling at Elmendorf Air Force Base. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Arizona, Aug. 16, 2009. Viewing the Grand Canyon. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Arizona, Aug. 16, 2009. Viewing the Grand Canyon. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

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The Incredible Kid-Ingenuity on Display at the 5th White House Science Fair

Today, the halls of the White House were packed with science projects -- robots, 3D-printed objects, computer programs, apps, and extraordinary scientific discoveries -- all built, invented, designed, and brought to fruition by students.

President Barack Obama greets Emily Bergenroth, Alicia Cutter, Karissa Cheng, Addy O’Neal, and Emery Dodson, all six-year-old Girl Scouts, from Tulsa, Oklahoma as he viewed their science exhibit during the 2015 White House Science Fair celebrating student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions, in the Red Room, March 23, 2015. The girls used Lego pieces and designed a battery-powered page turner to help people who are paralyzed or have arthritis. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

At the 5th annual White House Science Fair, President Obama welcomed more than 100 students from more than 30 states for a celebration and showcase of their truly remarkable achievmenets in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

As part of the Science Fair, approximately 35 student teams exhibited innovative projects -- including discoveries and insights in key areas such as disease diagnostics, clean energy, and information security -- as well as inventions ranging from the “why didn’t I think of that?” (automatic page-turner for people with arthritis) to the “who’d have ever thought that possible?” (a hiccup-curing lollipop!).

The President personally viewed some of these projects, marveling at the incredible ingenuity on display from student innovators across the country including some as young as six years old.

President Barack Obama talks with Sergio Corral and Isela Martinez while viewing science exhibits during the 2015 White House Science Fair celebrating student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions, in the State Dining Room, March 23, 2015. The two 17-year-old students are current leaders of the robotics program from Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix, Ariz., which was chronicled in the recent documentary "Underwater Dreams" where their under-served high school beat out MIT and other colleges in an underwater robotics competition. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy).

In remarks to an audience of science-fair participants, mentors, educators, and leaders in government, philanthropy, and the private sector, President Obama praised these extroadinary students:

“These young scientists and engineers teach us … how to question assumptions; to wonder why something is the way it is, and how we can make it better," the President said. "And they remind us that there’s always something more to learn, and to try, and to discover, and to imagine -- and that it’s never too early, or too late to create or discover something new." 

President Obama went on to describe how science shapes our world-view:

"That’s why we love science. It’s more than a school subject, or the periodic table, or the properties of waves. It is an approach to the world, a critical way to understand and explore and engage with the world, and then have the capacity to change that world, and to share this accumulated knowledge. It’s a mindset that says we that can use reason and logic and honest inquiry to reach new conclusions and solve big problems.”

POTUS Delivers remarks at 5th annual White House Science Fair

President Obama also announced a number of ambitious steps to continue to inspire young people like those at the Science Fair and ensure they are connected to the tools, resources, training, and mentors they need to achieve their STEM goals. Here are just some of the announcements the President made today:

  • A $150-million philanthropic effort to empower a diverse cadre of promising early-career scientists to stay on track to become scientific leaders of tomorrow
  • The $90-million Let Everyone Dream campaign to expand STEM opportunities to under-represented youth
  • A $25-million Department of Education competition to create science- and literacy-themed media that inspires students to explore
  • 120 universities and colleges committing to train 20,000 engineers to tackle the “Grand Challenges” of the 21st century
  • A coaltion of CEOs called Change the Equation committing to expand effective STEM programs to an additional 1.5 million students this year

All told, the steps launched today bring the Administration’s grand total up to $1 billion in commitments and in-kind support to advance the President’s Educate to Innovate campaign, which aims to inspire more girls and boys to excel in STEM subjects.

To highlight the theme of this year’s science fair -- Diversity and Inclusion in STEM -- Administration leaders hosted two roundtable discussions in which students shared stories about opportunities and challenges they face in STEM studies.

Kaitlin Reed demonstrates to President Barack Obama the attachable lever she developed that can make wheelchair movements easier and less tiring, during the 2015 White House Science Fair in the Blue Room, March 23, 2015. With Kaitlin is Mohammed Sayed, who developed a 3D-printed modular arm for his wheelchair that can be used as a food tray, camera tripod, rain canopy, laptop holder, and cup holder. The two 16-year-old students are from Massachusetts. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).
 

In the morning, Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls Valerie Jarret, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel, Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Associate Director for Science Jo Handelsman, and OSTP Principal Assistant Director for Energy and Environment Tammy Dickinson met with all-star female students participating in this year’s White House Science Fair. There was a lively discussion of the changing image of women in STEM and the need for even more extraordinary female role models to step up and tell their STEM stories.

In the afternoon, Vice President Biden joined a group of students, teachers, and STEM advocates for a discussion on the importance of providing access to STEM education to all Americans, regardless of background. The Vice President -- joined by NFL player Victor Cruz and actress Cierra Ramirez -- talked with the students about the tremendous opportunities that are becoming available every day because of advances in science and technology. He closed reminding participants never to lose faith in their own abilities to shape the future.

It was a whirlwind day for science and engineering at the White House! Geeks descended upon 1600 Pennsylvania -- filling rooms and halls from the State Dining room to the East Garden -- and showcasing more discoveries, inventions, and bright ideas than ever before.

We can’t wait to keep track of where these incredible young innovators go next!

President Barack Obama hugs Emily Bergenroth, Alicia Cutter, Karissa Cheng, Addy O’Neal, and Emery Dodson, all six-year-old Girl Scouts, from Tulsa, Oklahoma after viewing their science exhibit during the 2015 White House Science Fair celebrating student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions, in the Red Room, March 23, 2015. The girls used Lego pieces and designed a battery-powered page turner to help people who are paralyzed or have arthritis. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
 

Becky Fried is Deputy Assistant Director for Strategic Communications at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

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The First Lady’s Box Seats at the 2014 State of the Union

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For nearly three decades, extraordinary Americans who exemplify the themes and ideals laid out in the State of the Union Address have been invited to join the First Lady in her viewing box. Learn more about the remarkable individuals who will join First Lady Michelle Obama for the 2014 State of the Union Address:

First Lady Michelle Obama
First Lady Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama is the First Lady of the United States. Continuing a longstanding tradition, extraordinary Americans who exemplify the themes and ideals laid out in the President’s State of the Union Address attend the event as guests of the First Lady.
Dr Jill Biden
Dr. Jill Biden
Jill Biden is the wife of Vice President Biden. An educator and a proud Blue Star mom, Dr. Biden works to highlight the importance of community colleges, to raise awareness about the sacrifices made by military families, and to bring attention to women’s health issues.
Valerie Jarrett
Valerie Jarrett
Valerie B. Jarrett is a Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama. She is also the Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls and she oversees the Offices of Intergovernmental Affairs; Public Engagement; Urban Affairs; and Olympic, Paralympic, and Youth Sport.
Joey Hudy
Joey Hudy (Anthem, AZ
)
“Maker” and Intel Intern
Joey Hudy is a self-described “Maker,” part of a growing community of young people, adults, and entrepreneurs who are designing and building things on their own time. Joey first shot to fame in 2012 when, at 14-years-old, he attended the White House Science Fair where the President took a turn using the contraption he had made -- the “extreme marshmallow cannon” – and launched a marshmallow across the East Room. Joey then handed the President a card with his credo: “Don’t be bored, make something.” Now 16, he has continued to live by his motto, appearing at Maker Faires all across the country. Joey, a proponent of STEM education, is determined to teach other kids about how they can make and do anything they want. Joey lives in Anthem, Arizona with his mom, dad, and older sister. Earlier this month, he started as Intel’s youngest intern, a position Intel CEO Brian Krzanich offered him on the spot at his Maker Faire exhibit.
Jason Collins
Jason Collins (Los Angeles, CA)
12-Year NBA Player
While at Stanford, Jason Collins was selected as an All American, named the NCAA’s “Big Man of the Year,” and earned an appearance in the Final Four. After graduating in 2001, Collins was drafted into the NBA and has since played for six teams including the Celtics, whose then coach Doc Rivers said of Collins: “He’s the best. He literally is one of the best guys I’ve ever had in the locker room, player or coach.” In his 12 years in the league, Collins’ teams earned 9 trips to the playoffs including 2 NBA Finals appearances. In April 2013, Collins became the first male player in major American team sports to come out openly as gay. The President expressed his gratitude to Collins for his courageous announcement through an article Collins penned himself. The President said he “couldn’t be prouder” of Collins, recognizing this as a point of progress for the LGBT community, and one more step in America’s goal to treat everyone fairly and with respect. Collins is 35 and lives in Los Angeles, California.
Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman
Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman (Boston, MA)
Survivors of the Boston Marathon Bombing
Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman are forever linked due to the attacks on the 117th Boston Marathon. In what has become an iconic image from the day in April of 2013, Carlos – wearing his white Cowboy hat – was captured rushing a badly injured Jeff away from the bombing to safety, thereby becoming two of the faces of ‘Boston Strong.’ From his intensive care hospital bed, Jeff played a vital role in identifying the bombers. After losing both legs in the attack, he is battling back, describing himself as a quick healer and stronger now than he was before the attack. Jeff, 27, and Carlos, 53 and a Gold Star Father, have become close friends.
Gary Bird
Gary Bird (Moore, OK)
Fire Chief
Fire Chief Gary Bird represents all of those who rallied together to help the community of Moore, Oklahoma – firefighters, police officers, teachers, neighbors – in its greatest time of need: The immediate aftermath of the EF5 tornado that hit Moore, killing 25 men, women and children and devastating a community of more than 1,000 homes and businesses. Bird and his search-and-rescue crews worked through the path of the storm to rescue survivors. “We will be through every damaged piece of property in this city at least three times before we're done, and we hope to be done by dark tonight,” Bird said in a press conference the evening the tornado hit. Bird began his career in 1981 as a volunteer firefighter in Ninnekah, Oklahoma. After four years as a volunteer, he was hired by the Moore Fire Department, working his way through the ranks. He was appointed Deputy Fire Chief in February 2003, a position he held until being named Fire Chief on June 30, 2012. Bird and his wife, Cindy, have been married for 34 years, and they have a son, two granddaughters, and a six-month-old grandson.
Kathy Hollowell-Makle
Kathy Hollowell-Makle (Washington, DC)
2013 DCPS Teacher of the Year
Kathy Hollowell-Makle was named 2013’s District of Columbia Public School’s Teacher of the Year after more than 15 years teaching in the District. Kathy bega her career in AmeriCorps  as a Teach for America corps member in the District in 1998 and currently teaches at Abram Simon Elementary in Southeast Washington, DC. By the school year’s end, more than 90 percent of her students demonstrate early literacy at proficient or advanced levels and last year, more than 80 percent of her students advanced two or more reading levels. Kathy contributed some of her experience and expertise to a roundtable with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan regarding early childhood education. Kathy emphasizes a positive attitude and focuses on fluency in reading, writing and counting, explaining: “The best part of teaching is having former students recognize me, and being able to see how wonderful they turned out to be.” Kathy lives in Washington, DC with her husband Stephen and two sons Amir and Ian. She is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana.

Aliana Arzola-Pinero
Aliana Arzola-Piñero (San Juan, Puerto Rico)

2013 Kids State Dinner Attendee
Aliana Arzola-Piñero, from San Juan, Puerto Rico, is in fourth grade at the Colegio Puertorriqueño de Niñas. Aliana is an avid reader and gymnast who loves to cook with her grandma, something she’s done since she was two-years-old. She participated in the 2012 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge sponsored by the First Lady. While she didn’t win, she worked hard, tried again, and her perseverance paid off as she proudly represented Puerto Rico at the 2013 Kid’s State Dinner hosted by the First Lady. Her winning recipe “Yummy Eggplant Lasagna Rolls,” incorporates the “My Plate” guidelines. Aliana has worked hard to translate her experience visiting the White House into concrete steps to benefit her community, championing healthy eating and an active lifestyle for kids.

 

Cristian Avila
Cristian Avila (Phoenix, AZ)
DREAMer, “Core Faster” and Voter Engagement Coordinator, Mi Familia Vota
Cristian Avila, 23, was brought to the United States with his younger brother and sister when he was nine-years-old. Though Cristian became an All-American scholar by 7th grade and received a full scholarship to a private Jesuit high school, he was limited by his undocumented status. Last year he received temporary relief from deportation through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The 23-year-old Arizona resident started volunteering with Mi Familia Vota, a non-profit Latino civic engagement program, at the age of 16, and he was one of the core fasters in the Fast for Families demonstration late last year at the foot of the Capitol, which the President, Vice President, First Lady and Cabinet and Administration officials visited. After 22 days, he passed on the fast to others but has continued to push Congress to take up comprehensive immigration reform. Cristian is fighting for commonsense immigration reform so he can one day join the US Marine Corps and serve our country in uniform.
Mary Barra
Mary Barra (Detroit, MI)
Chief Executive Officer, General Motors Company
Mary Barra was named Chief Executive Officer of General Motors effective January 15, 2014. In this role, she leads the company’s overall efforts to strengthen GM globally as an industry leader in automotive design and technology, product quality, customer care and business results. She is also a member of the GM Board of Directors and the first female CEO in the company’s history. Barra began her career with GM in 1980 as a General Motors Institute (Kettering University) co-op student at the Pontiac Motor Division. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering. In 1990, Barra graduated with a master of business administration degree from the Stanford Graduate School of Business after receiving a GM fellowship in 1988. Barra has held a number of positions with GM, most recently as executive Vice President, Global Product Development, Purchasing & Supply chain – in this role she was responsible for the design, engineering, program management, and quality of GM vehicles around the world. In 2013, Fortune Magazine named Barra one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” and Forbes Magazine names her one of the “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.” Barra lives in the Detroit area with her husband, Tony, and their two children.
Governor Steve Beshear
Governor Steve Beshear (D-KY)
After serving three terms in the Kentucky House of Representatives, and as Kentucky’s Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor, Steve Beshear was elected Governor in 2007. Governor Beshear has worked closely with the Obama Administration to provide affordable health care to the people of Kentucky. In his second term, the Governor extended access to affordable health care coverage to hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians by expanding Medicaid and setting up a new health insurance Marketplace, “Kynect.” If the remaining states that haven’t expanded Medicaid coverage did so like Kentucky, about 5.4 million uninsured Americans would gain access to health insurance coverage by 2016. Governor Beshear is a native of Dawson Springs in Hopkins County, in western Kentucky. He holds a bachelor’s degree and law degree from the University of Kentucky and served in the U.S. Army Reserve. He and his wife, Jane, have been married since 1969. They have two sons and three grandchildren.
Tyrone Davis
Tyrone Davis (Winston-Salem, NC)
Fellow with the Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate Corps
Tyrone Davis, from Winston-Salem, NC, has been legally blind since the age of nine. Despite his vision loss, he ran cross-country and track in high school, and received a political science degree and Masters of Public Administration from North Carolina State University. He developed an interest in environmental issues during his time as an undergraduate, which led to a fellowship with the Environmental Defense Fund in 2010, placing him at Elizabeth City State University, a historically black university. His recommendations showed the school how to achieve savings of more than $31,000 a year, resulting in nearly 200 tons of carbon emissions reductions annually. Tyrone’s father owns and operates a small office cleaning service, while his mother is a cost clerk for the county’s school transportation department. He has one younger brother currently attending North Carolina A&T State University. Now in his third year at Elon University School of Law, Tyrone hopes to use his skills to benefit the environment and make communities safer.
Vice Admiral Michelle Howard
Vice Admiral Michelle Howard (Washington, DC)
Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans & Strategy
This year, Vice Admiral Michelle Howard will become the first female four-star Admiral in the 238-year-history of the United States Navy, and the first African-American female to achieve four-star rank in the history of the military. She was nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate in December. Howard’s initial sea tours were aboard USS Hunley (AS 31) and USS Lexington (AVT 16). While serving on board Lexington, she received the secretary of the Navy/Navy League Captain Winifred Collins award in May 1987. This award is given to one woman officer a year for outstanding leadership. She took command of USS Rushmore (LSD 47) on March 12, 1999, becoming the first African American woman to command a ship in the U.S. Navy. In 2010, she was the Maritime Task Force commander for BALTOPS, under 6th Fleet. Her shore assignments include: J-3, Global Operations, Readiness and Executive Assistant to the Joint Staff director of Operations; Deputy Director N3 on the OPNAV staff; Deputy Director, Expeditionary Warfare Division, OPNAV staff; Senior Military Assistant to the secretary of the Navy; Chief of Staff to the director for Strategic Plans and Policy, J-5, Joint Staff, and Deputy Commander, US Fleet Forces Command. Vice Admiral Howard is a 1978 graduate of Gateway High School in Aurora, Colo. She graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1982 and from the Army’s Command and General Staff College in 1998, with a Masters in Military Arts and Sciences.
Sabrina Simone Jenkins (Charleston, SC)
Sabrina Simone Jenkins (Charleston, SC)
Sabrina Simone Jenkins – through obstacle after obstacle – has persevered in getting herself educated, determined to make a better life for herself and her family. Sabrina is a single mother to her teenage daughter Kenya. After serving in the Air Force, Sabrina took classes at DeVry University while working full time, graduating with a 3.7 GPA at the age of 42 – all while caring for ailing family members and becoming seriously ill herself. Sabrina then earned her master’s degree in human resources in 2012. Sabrina is currently saddled with nearly $90,000 in student loan debt, something that will only worsen as she pays for Kenya to go to college. Sabrina’s remarkable resolve through incredibly difficult circumstances brought her to the attention of The Shriver Report, which seeks to highlight the 1 in 3 American women living on the brink of poverty. The President is determined to help people like Sabrina – Americans who are working hard and doing the right things – get ahead.
Mayor Ed Lee (San Francisco, CA)
Mayor Ed Lee (San Francisco, CA)
Mayor Edwin M. Lee is the son of Chinese immigrants and the first Asian-American Mayor of San Francisco, a position he’s held for more than three years. He previously served as San Francisco’s City Administrator and Director of the Department of Public Works. In 2013, he hosted a series of town halls to mobilize the Silicon Valley business community in support of immigration reform. Mayor Lee is also working on a proposal to significantly increase San Francisco’s minimum wage. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Education awarded a five-year, up to $30 million Promise Neighborhoods implementation grant to support school improvement and revitalize the Mission neighborhood in San Francisco. Originally from Seattle, Washington, Mayor Lee graduated Summa Cum Laude from Bowdoin College in 1974 and Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley in 1978. He and his wife, Anita, have two daughters, Brianna and Tania.
Andra Rush (Detroit, MI)
Andra Rush (Detroit, MI)
Founder and Chairperson, The Rush Group, Detroit Manufacturing Systems
Andra Rush is a descendant of the Mohawk Tribe from the Six-Nation Reservation, and the founder and chairperson of the Rush Group family of companies, which include Rush Trucking, Dakkota Integrated Systems, and Detroit Manufacturing Systems. This consortium of manufacturing, trucking, assembly, and distribution is one of the largest Native American-owned businesses in the country. Rush started her first company, Rush Trucking, in 1984 with only three trucks and successfully grew the company to include 800 tractors and 1,350 trailers. In 2012, Ms. Rush launched Detroit Manufacturing Systems Ltd., LLC (DMS), a joint venture between Rush Group Ltd, LLC and Faurecia. DMS manufactures and assembles automotive interior components in the City of Detroit and grew to more than 600 employees in its first year of operations, the largest new manufacturing employer in the City of Detroit in decades. The company’s first customer was the Ford Motor Company, building interior components for the Mustang and F-150 pickup truck. In 2012, she was appointed to the U.S. Manufacturing Council, which is the principal private-sector advisory committee to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce on manufacturing matters. She was also appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to serve as a trustee for Michigan’s Children’s Trust Fund. Ms. Rush has a Bachelor of Arts in Nursing (1982) from the University of Michigan. She has three sons.
Amanda Shelley (Gilbert, AZ)
Amanda Shelley (Gilbert, AZ)
Physician Assistant
For years, Amanda Shelley, a 37-year-old physician assistant from Gilbert, Arizona, was unable to get insurance due to a pre-existing condition. That all changed on January 1, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Two days later, Amanda began having severe pain in her abdomen, which at first she ignored – something she was used to doing because she was previously uninsured. The next day, when the pain became too much to bear, she went to the emergency room and eventually had emergency abdominal surgery. Amanda is one of millions of Americans who now knows the security that comes with quality, affordable health insurance.
Antoinette Tuff (Atlanta, GA)
Antoinette Tuff (Atlanta, GA)
DeKalb County Bookkeeper
On August 20, 2013, the world learned of the compassion and heroism of Antoinette Tuff, the DeKalb County bookkeeper who prevented a shooting at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy, an elementary school in the suburbs of Atlanta. Tuff, a mother of one daughter and one son, talked the would-be shooter down, sharing her personal struggles, discussing love and doing her best to connect with him until he surrendered before harming anyone. Now, instead of being known for another tragic school shooting, August 20, 2013 is remembered for one woman’s grace under pressure. The President called Tuff after the ordeal and has said what she did was “remarkable.” Antoinette has been nominated for the Carnegie Medal for civilian heroism.

Additional guests will be announced in the week leading up to the State of the Union, so check back here, or at WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU to get more information. In the meantime, here’s how to stay updated, and learn more about the 2014 State of the Union: 

  • WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU: Check out WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU for an enhanced viewing experience of President Obama's State of the Union address.
  • Get email updates: Sign up and make sure you’re among the first to get exclusive content before and after the speech
  • Follow us on Twitter: Make sure you’re following @WhiteHouse on Twitter for news and real-time updates before, during and after the address.

 

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Weekly Wrap-Up: “We’ve Got Your Back”

Watch the West Wing Week here.

“You’ve met the mission”: President Obama spoke in Annapolis, Maryland last Friday to deliver the commencement address to the U.S. Naval Academy’s class of 2013. In his address, the President congratulated the graduates for taking their oath, and praised them for meeting the mission of the Academy and proving themselves morally, mentally, and physically.

“So, Class of 2013, in your four years by the Bay, you’ve met every test before you. And today is the day that you’ve been counting down to for so long. You will take your oath. Those boards and gold bars will be placed on your shoulders. And as your Commander-in-Chief, I congratulate each of you on becoming our newest officers -- ensigns in the United States Navy, second lieutenants in the United States Marine Corps.  

The Savoy School: Actress Kerry Washington joined First Lady Michelle Obama at the Savoy School in Washington, D.C. on Friday. The school was selected for the Turnaround Arts Initiative at the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities last year. While visiting, the First Lady played freeze dance and checked out art projects created by a fifth grade class.

"When you work hard and you invest thousands of hours in anything, you get better.  And that’s what you guys are learning here at Savoy.  Hopefully you are learning that with your math, with your reading, with your dancing, with your singing, it's about the amount of effort that you want to put into anything."

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West Wing Week: 05/24/13 or “Justice for Everybody”

This week, the President continued his Jobs & Opportunity tour, this time highlighting bold new efforts in education and manufacturing in Baltimore, gave the commencement address at Morehouse College, invited the President of Myanmar, eight immigra... Read more »

President Obama Responds to the Tornadoes in Oklahoma

Ed. Note: You can help people affected by the recent tornadoes through American Red Cross Disaster Relief. If you are in the affected areas, click here to apply for assistance and learn about other resources that are available to you. Check back here for more information — we'll continue updating this post as the response effort develops.

5/23/13

President Obama continues to receive updates on the response to the devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma, and continues to direct his team to provide all available resources to support state and local partners leading the response.

More than 400 federal personnel remain on the ground in the impacted area, including teams that are working directly with families and individuals who were affected by the tornadoes.  As of last night, more than 2,200 individuals impacted by the tornadoes had registered with FEMA for direct assistance available through the major disaster declaration provided Monday night. (For those in affected areas, find out how to apply for assistance here or learn about other resources available to you)

According to FEMA, since Monday night, the national Urban Search and Rescue teams completed searches of more than 1,200 structures in the affected area.

FEMA and federal partners have established an Incident Support Base to stage commodities. More than 127,000 liters of water and nearly 30,000 meals have been delivered to the state to support response efforts.

FEMA also continues to work closely with organizations such as the American Red Cross, who continue to bring resources to support impacted families. (Learn more about how to give or get help through the American Red Cross)

5/22/13

Update 2: Press Secretary Jay Carney announced in today's briefing that on Sunday, May 26, President Obama "will travel to the Oklahoma City area to see firsthand the response to the devastating tornadoes and severe weather that have impacted the area on Sunday night and Monday. He will visit with affected families as well as thank first responders."

Update 1: Overnight, the President continued to receive updates from his team on the ongoing response in Oklahoma. Following yesterday's call to the Mayor of Moore Oklahoma, Glenn Lewis, the President spoke again to Governor Fallin expressing his concern for those who had been impacted and to reiterate that he had directed his Administration to provide all available resources to support the response led by the Governor and her team. Last night, the President also spoke with Senator James Inhofe to make clear that FEMA stood ready to continue to support the people of Oklahoma through the immediate response phase as well as the recovery, and to let the Senator know that Oklahomans remained in his thoughts and prayers.

On Tuesday, at the President’s direction, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate arrived in Oklahoma to ensure that federal resources were effectively supporting the response efforts. Administrator Fugate is on the ground again today, and this morning Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will also travel to the affected area to meet with local officials and see ongoing response efforts first hand.

As of this morning, FEMA has more than 400 personnel already on the ground supporting the response, including three national Urban Search and Rescue Teams, an Incident Management Assistance Team, as well as personnel focused on helping survivors register for and receive the federal assistance made available by the major disaster declaration signed by the President on Monday night. As of 2 a.m. this morning, more than 1,000 individuals affected by the tornadoes and severe weather in Oklahoma had registered for assistance with FEMA.

The President received a briefing this morning by his team, and will continue to be updated on the response throughout the day.

5/21/13

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the ongoing response to the devastating tornadoes and severe weather

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the ongoing response to the devastating tornadoes and severe weather that impacted Oklahoma, in the State Dining Room of the White House, May 21, 2013. Vice President Joe Biden, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino accompany the President. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Update 3: As response and recovery efforts continue on the ground in Oklahoma, the Department of Homeland Security announced this afternoon that Secretary Janet Napolitano will travel to the area tomorrow to meet with state and local officials and ensure first responders are receiving the assistance they need to help those affected by the tornadoes.

Update 2: This morning, President Obama delivered a statement on the devastating tornadoes and severe weather that impacted Oklahoma. He described the response efforts underway, and assured the people of Moore and all the affected areas that they "would have all the resources that they need at their disposal."

For there are homes and schools to rebuild, businesses and hospitals to reopen, there are parents to console, first responders to comfort, and, of course, frightened children who will need our continued love and attention. There are empty spaces where there used to be living rooms, and bedrooms, and classrooms, and, in time, we’re going to need to refill those spaces with love and laughter and community.

"Americans from every corner of this country will be right there with them, opening our homes, our hearts to those in need," President Obama said. "Because we're a nation that stands with our fellow citizens as long as it takes. We've seen that spirit in Joplin, in Tuscaloosa; we saw that spirit in Boston and Breezy Point. And that’s what the people of Oklahoma are going to need from us right now."

Watch the full statement below or read the remarks here.

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