Last week, I had the privilege of attending a briefing in the White House along with hundreds of Mocha Moms Inc from across the country. It was a town hall session with White House Advisors and cabinet members. It was a wonderful opportunity to be heard and listen as the plan for the nation was discussed. This briefing included some of the areas of greatest concerns to moms- Education, Environment, and Heath & Human Services.
I can not tell you how exciting it was to hear that the White House realizes that it is important to join forces with Moms. In May 2009, The Office of Public Engagement was issued a mission by President Obama “…to engage as many Americans as possible in the difficult work of changing this country, through meetings and conversations with groups and individuals held in Washington and across the country. ”
The voice of women and girls is being heard more in the White House than ever before. I loved the story told by the first lady, Michelle Obama's chief of staff Tina Tchen. She attended a meeting where the majority of the attendees were men. It was obvious that she was being ignored when they directed all of the questions to her male colleague. Imagine the joy and shame on their faces when in the end it was Tchen who had all the answers. This was a testimony that many of us could relate to because sometimes as moms we are overlooked.
Michael Strautmanis, Deputy Assistant to the President and Counselor for Strategic Engagement to the Senior Advisor Valerie Jarret ,
stopped in and wanted to say hi and to give some encouraging words. At lunch later his words could be heard at all the tables. He reminded us that we don't need to fit into some notion of what success is. We are guides, innovators who will show the world how things work in our community. He closed by saying “WE SEE YOU”
We concluded the day with an Oprah style, Mom Talk with Environment Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson. In 2011, Administrator Jackson spoke at the Mocha Moms Inc National Conference so she is no stranger to us and her mission. I proudly support her efforts to protect the health and environment for all Americans. She and her staff are constantly working across the nation to usher in a green economy, address health threats from pollution in our air, water and land, and renew the public’s trust in EPA’s work.
It was truly a great day and I left with a new found sense of purpose. Power comes from the people and if we believe we can make our country better just by sharing…I did and I hope you will also…