Tag Archives: Michelle Obama

What Will Be Your Summer ‘Do?

We’re days away from the official start of summer and what better way to get ready than changing up your ‘do? We both did a hair transformation for the summer and we encourage you to do the same. Whether you drastically cut your tresses or just get some bang action or layers going, treat yourself to a fresh look for the season.

So tell us – which ‘do is most likely to be yours this summer?

Photo credits: Dawn Richard, Janet Jackson, Tracey Ferguson, Oprah, Halle Berry, Taraji P. Henson, Michelle Obama, Keri Hilson

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Michelle Obama at the Second State Dinner

President Obama and the First Lady held their second State Dinner last night, welcoming Mexican President Felipe Calderon and his wife. Michelle Obama was wearing this stunning blue gown by designer Peter Soronen. No party crashers were reported (whew!) and the food had to be outstanding (Top Chef Masters winner Rick Bayless prepared the food). More about the State Dinner here.

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Yay or Nay? Michelle Obama’s New Haircut

Michelle Obama has a new bob haircut. What do you think?

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Spotlight On: Valerie Jarrett

Photo Courtesy of Capital File Magazine

We’ve seen her next to and behind the president and know her as a powerful adviser. But who is Valerie Jarrett? Though quite elusive, she is an interesting woman with a fascinating story. Given her international exposure and strong pedigree, it’s not surprising that she is Barack and Michelle Obama’s “BFF.”
An only child, Valerie was born in Shiraz, Iran in 1956. No, her ethnicity is not Iranian and her parents were not in the military. Her father, James Bowman, rather was a geneticist and pathologist working for a program that brought American doctors to developing countries. They lived in Iran until Valerie was five at which time they moved to England for one year before moving back to the Hyde Park neighborhood in Chicago, where her parents had strong ties. During her childhood, she traveled around the world with her family. During the summers her father would often do research around the world. In an October 2008 issue of Vogue, she described how one summer they “went from Ghana to Nigeria to Ethiopia to Uganda to Egypt and then back to Iran.” This experience she says, “required me to be able to straddle a bunch of different cultures and worlds. It made me comfortable talking to anybody at a very young age.” These skills would certainly serve her well later in life.

Valerie’s family was full of “firsts.” Not only was her father a doctor and the first black to receive residency at Chicago’s St. Luke’s Hospital, but he also was the first black to receive tenure in his department at the University of Chicago. Her mother, an early childhood expert, came from two generations of firsts: her grandfather was the first black graduate from M.I.T. and her father was the first black to head the Chicago Housing authority. It was this family foundation that undoubtedly prepared her for academic and career success.

Valerie’s childhood was very different from many African Americans growing up in the 1960s. Considering her parent’s emphasis on education, it’s not surprising that she attended the both the University of Chicago Laboratory School and Northfield Mount Hermon boarding school in Massachusetts before heading to Stanford for undergrad. After graduating with a BA from Stanford, Valerie headed back to the Midwest where she attended law school at the University of Michigan where she received her JD in 1981. In 1983 she married William Robert Jarrett, childhood friend and son of a Chicago Sun-Times columnist Vernon Jarrett. Though they were only married for a few years, they had a daughter, Laura. It was, in fact, the birth of her daughter that caused Valerie to make a career switch from the private sector as law firm attorney to the public sector. She told the Chicago Tribune, “I wanted to do something she’d be really proud of me for.” Her daughter now is studying at Harvard Law School.

After her transition to the public sector, Valerie held several positions under mayors Harold Washington and Richard M. Daley. It was during her tenure in Richard Daley’s office where she met a 27 year old Michelle Robinson (soon to be Obama). During that interview process she met the then fiancé of Michelle who not only grilled his future wife’s future boss but also established the foundation for a long friendship. Neither could have predicted that over 15 years later that same man would ask her to serve as Senior Adviser of his presidential campaign and Co-Chair of his Presidential Transition Team.

Saying that she keeps her plate full would be an understatement. She held the position of CEO at The Habitat Company, a real estate development and management company, where she joined in 1995 and worked for over 10 years prior to joining Mr. Obama. She has also held numerous board positions including the University of Chicago Medical Center, USG Corporation, and the Chicago Stock Exchange, where she also held the Chair seat from 2004-2007. If that wasn’t enough, she also served as the vice chair of the Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee.
On November 15, 2008, she Valerie was appointed to be the Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement. In this role Valerie manages a large portfolio of offices: the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, White House Office of Public Engagement, Office of Urban Affairs. In addition, she chairs the White House Commission on Women and Girls and White House Office of Olympic, Paralympic, and Youth Sport.
Though we may see her more than we hear her, we should not underestimate Valerie Jarrett. As one of the most trusted confidants of the president of the United States, she just may be one of the most influential women in the world.

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Are Black Women Really Intimidating?

If you are an intelligent, professional , single or “spoken for” black woman, chances are, you have at some point been referred to as “intimidating”. Whether it was the reason for the surprisingly negative performance review you received at work, the excuse your non-brown co-workers gave for not befriending you right away or the ever popular (and my personal fav – NOT!) unequivocal reason that you are still single. No matter the specifics of the justification for the label, it all speaks to the same stereotypical impression that black women are somehow more intimidating than any other group of women. Even our first lady Michelle Obama could not escape the intimidation label during our President’s campaign for office. Surely you remember the ridiculous caricature of her on the cover of The New Yorker as a gun toting, afro wearing, finger pointing, super black panther from the 70’s. If that’s not enough, then surely you have heard the whisperings from some black men about the reason they choose to date women of other races.

A sociologist might argue that the association between black women and intimidation stems from the deliberate attempt to reverse the roles of black men and women during slavery. A time when black men were emasculated and black women were stripped of their feminine characteristics in the eyes of the masters and later in films, a la’ Hattie McDaniel in “Gone With the Wind”. Clearly we are far from the days of slavery yet this perception of black women as intimidating continues to perpetuate itself be it in pop culture, politics, music, movies or any other facet of life. Could it be that where there is smoke, there is fire? Are black women really intimidating or is everyone else super sensitive? Share your story of “intimidation” and let us know what you think.


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Spotlight On: Michelle Fenty

Michelle Fenty

“I grew up with Margaret Thatcher, so for me it’s nothing new. I know a woman can run a country,” – Michelle Fenty

She’s stylish, accomplished and a force to be reckoned with. Meet Washington, D.C.’s other “First Lady”, Michelle Fenty, wife of D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty.

Born and raised just outside of London, Michelle is one of three daughters. Her parents, who are of Jamaican descent, did not move to the United States until Michelle was 18 years old. The move was prompted by the Michelle’s parents wanting to be closer their parents who had moved to New York City. It was perhaps her move to the big apple that sparked her career aspirations. “I grew up wanting to be a teacher. Part of that was not being exposed to female lawyers and doctors. It wasn’t until I was much older that I decided on the law.” Michelle chose Howard Law School in 1994 as the place to begin honing the intellectual capital that she still relies on to this day. It was at Howard Law School that she met her future husband who coincidentally asked her to be his mentor. “I was a couple years ahead of him, a third year preparing to get out when he was coming in.” Not surprisingly, Adrian Fenty had a crush on his new mentor and it wasn’t long before they began dating long distance after Michelle graduated and moved back to New York. As the saying goes, the rest is history, as the couple eventually wed and currently are the parents to twin 9-year-old boys and an 11 month-old daughter.

If you were to research Michelle online, you would likely not find too many personal details about her life, but what you will find are the kind of accomplishments and noteworthy community involvement that would make any woman proud to read about. Michelle is still a practicing attorney, specializing in the intricate field of global technology. When asked about her choice to continue her career, Michelle had this to say, “I have spent a lot of years studying to be an attorney, and I felt it was important for me to continue to work and contribute,” she says, “Not just to my household, but to my personal fulfillment as well.” As if being a mother to three young children and the wife of a politician weren’t enough to contend with, Michelle has also taken on some major charitable efforts including servings as president of the advisory board for the Capital Breast Cancer Center and previous involvement supporting the Boys and Girls Clubs of Washington. Michelle does all of this while at the same time maintaining a sophisticated style that got her recognized by The Washingtonian.

It’s hard not to draw the parallels between Michelle Fenty and First Lady Michelle Obama. Oh to be a fly on the wall when these two powerhouse women take time out to support each other’s charitable events as they have done on several occasions in the past. Michelle Fenty is a career woman, a mother, a wife in the spotlight and a community leader. When asked about how she handles it all, her response was simply, “I basically approach each day knowing that I may not accomplish the goals I set out to do in the morning, but I’m OK with that because, at the end of the day, I am trying to achieve so many things.”

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Spotlight On: Peggy Sutton

Peggy Sutton

Peggy Sutton

By JaSaun Buckner

Dancing is an expression that comes from the mind, body, and soul.  For children, dance instruction and performance provide an artistic outlet, stability and lessons that last a lifetime.  For just over 50 years Mayfair Academy of Fine Arts has provided a place where black children and adults in Chicago can learn the fundamentals of dance and performance within their community.  

Ms. Peggy Sutton is the owner and director of Mayfair Academy of Fine Arts.  Mayfair was founded in 1957 by renowned Tap Master, Mr. Tommy Sutton with the goal of developing dance as a cultural and physical asset for the children on the south side of Chicago. He passed on his legacy to his daughter, Peggy Sutton who has successfully operated Mayfair since 1978. Today Mayfair is one of the largest privately owned schools of its type with an enrollment of over 900 students and two locations.[1]  Ms. Sutton nurtures her student and her factually who are all like one big family.  Most of the teachers at Mayfair were once students. Distinguished alumni include First Lady Michelle Obama, Common and Tempest Bledsoe.  Each year Ms. Sutton produces the annual Mayfair dance recital, entertaining audiences up to 5000 while exposing her students to historical and theatrical venues throughout Chicago. 

In addition to her administrative and artistic duties at Mayfair she also does choreography for many local civic and charitable organizations and oversees the Mayfair Performing Company. Ms. Sutton is a graduate of Southern Illinois University with a degree in accounting.

Ms. Sutton is also the recipient of the Chocolate Chip Theater Co. “Smart Cookie” award, the Alpha Kappa Alpha “Pearls of Excellence” award, the Chicago Defender’s “Women of Excellence” award, Zeta Phi Beta’s 2008 Women of the Year award and the 2008 Ruth Page Award.

Ms. Sutton understands that her purpose is to continue the legacy her Father left before her, which is to educate, expose, empower and employ our children in the Fine Arts. It is Ms. Sutton’s hope that her legacy will be to show by example the business of the arts as a thriving African American and female owned and operated business, which has been a positive fixture and cultural institution in the same community for the past 50 years.[1]


[1] http://www.mayfairacademy.net/ma/mssutton.html

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