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First Lady Michelle Obama to Mentor Washington Girls

Posted by Audiegrl

Will join staffers Desiree Rogers, Susan Sher, Tina Tchen, Valerie Jarrett

First Lady Michelle Obama, Fran Drescher and Sheryl Crow

First Lady Michelle Obama, Fran Drescher and Sheryl Crow

Chicago Tribune/Katherine Skiba—First Lady Michelle Obama — and some of her Chicago “sisters” in the White House — on Monday will launch a first-of-its-kind mentoring program with about 20 high school girls from greater Washington.

As the first anniversary of President Barack Obama’s election nears, it’s the first lady who is making history now. Call this chapter “Girl Power.”

Observers say her leadership and mentoring initiative has not been done by a first lady before. It will see Obama — and White House staffers including Valerie Jarrett, Tina Tchen, Susan Sher and Desiree Rogers, Chicagoans all — act as mentors to high school juniors and sophomores.

Jarrett is a senior White House adviser. Tchen leads its public liaison office. Sher is the first lady’s chief of staff. Rogers is White House social secretary.

The proteges were chosen by high schools, the Girl Scouts and military families, including Gold Star families who have lost a loved one, said Katie McCormick Lelyveld, the first lady’s spokeswoman.

A similar initiative for young men is coming later, she said.

Tchen, an attorney from Chicago long active in politics, said the program builds on a March event at the White House that saw high school girls interact with the first lady, White House officials and a cast of celebrities including singers Alicia Keyes and Sheryl Crow; actresses and sisters Debbie Allen and Phylicia Rashad; actress Fran Drescher; and Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to travel into space.

The First Lady chats with Fran Drescher and Alica Keys

The First Lady chats with Fran Dresche and Alica Keys

Tchen said the program launch will see proteges visit their mentors’ offices and gather as a group for dinner. The inaugural class’s duration has not been decided, she said, adding that she expects discussions of college, careers, and balancing work and motherhood.

The mentors, she said, want to give proteges a “window to a wide variety of different opportunities to play out your dreams.”

Letitia Baldrige, who was a top aide to first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, said the mentoring program was “definitely” a first for a presidential spouse. She called it “wonderfully imaginative,” but cautioned it will be difficult in part because of the ongoing commitment it requires.

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