Valerie Jarrett

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Chief Executive Officer, The Barack Obama Foundation

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Valerie Jarrett: Biography at a Glance

  • Valerie Jarrett was the longest-serving Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama and is currently CEO and Board Member for the Obama Foundation and a Senior Distinguished Fellow at The University of Chicago Law School. 
  • She is Board Chairman of Civic Nation, Co-Chair of The United State of Women, Senior Advisor to Attn., and One Million Black Women Advisory Board member. 
  • She also serves on the boards of Lyft, Ralph Lauren, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Sweetgreen, Ariel Investments, Sesame Workshop, and the Economic Club of Chicago.
  • Her bestselling memoir, Finding My Voice, shares her optimistic perspective on the importance of leadership and the responsibilities of citizenship in the twenty-first century, inspiring readers to lift their own voices.
  • She led the Obama Administration's efforts to expand and strengthen access to the middle class, and boost American businesses and our economy; Champions the creation of equality and opportunity for all Americans, and economically and politically empowering women in the United States and around the world
  • Valerie speaks to numerous topics from her life of public service; she shares her expertise and voice on the critical issues of today, including criminal justice and police reform, civil rights, women’s equality, and politics.

Videos

Biography

Valerie Jarrett is Chief Executive Officer and a member of the board of directors of the Barack Obama Foundation. She is also a Senior Distinguished Fellow at The University of Chicago Law School. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling book Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward. She serves as Board Chairman of Civic Nation and Co-Chair of The United State of Women. Jarrett serves on the boards of Walgreens Boot Alliance, Inc., Ralph Lauren Corporation, Lyft, Inc., Sweetgreen, Ariel Investments, Sesame Street Workshop, and the Economic Club of Chicago. Jarrett also serves on the Goldman Sachs One Million Black Women Advisory Board.

Ms. Jarrett was the Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama from 2009-2017 making her the longest-serving senior advisor in history. She oversaw the Offices of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs and Chaired the White House Council on Women and Girls. Ms. Jarrett worked throughout her tenure at the White House to mobilize elected officials, business and community leaders, and diverse groups of advocates. She led the Obama Administration’s efforts to expand and strengthen access to the middle class, and boost American businesses and our economy. She championed the creation of equality and opportunity for all Americans, and economically and politically empowering women in the United States and around the world. She oversaw the Administration’s advocacy for workplace policies that empower working families, including equal pay, raising the minimum wage, paid leave, paid sick days, workplace flexibility, and affordable childcare, and led the campaigns to reform our criminal justice system, end sexual assault, and reduce gun violence.

Ms. Jarrett has a background in both the public and private sectors. She served as the Chief Executive Officer of The Habitat Company in Chicago, the Commissioner of Planning and Development for the city of Chicago, Deputy Chief of Staff for Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, and practiced law for ten years in the private and public sectors. She also served as the director of numerous corporate and not-for-profit boards including leadership positions as Chairman of the Board of the Chicago Stock Exchange, Chairman of the University of Chicago Medical Center Board of Trustees, Vice Chairman of the University of Chicago Board of Trustees, Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Chair of Chicago Transit Board. Ms. Jarrett has also received numerous awards and honorary degrees, including TIME’s “100 Most Influential People” Award.

Jarrett received her B.A. from Stanford University in 1978 and her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1981.

Topics

The State of Our Democracyarrow-down

The United States has long been a symbol to the world of a strong democracy. Of late, many are questioning traditional institutions, social norms, and even the rule of law - all of which are historically fundamental pillars on which our democracy has rested. As the longest-serving advisor to Pres. Obama and chair of the board of Civic Nation, Valerie Jarrett has a rich history of actively engaging both citizens and corporations in fulfilling their civic responsibilities to strengthen and protect our democracy. Valerie passionately believes that the United States should serve as a beacon of hope to the world and lead by example. In an increasingly polarized atmosphere, she is still hopeful that ordinary people can come together around common goals and achieve extraordinary things.

In this conversation, Valerie will discuss the essential pillars of democracy; the current threats that exist, including apathy, discrimination, disinformation, and voter suppression; and how we all can fulfill our responsibilities to be informed and engaged citizens. She will also share her perspective as a board member on several corporate boards including Walgreens, Ralph Lauren, Lyft, and Sweetgreen, on what role corporate America must play to advance equity and inclusion and improve our global standing.

A Conversation on Racearrow-down

As a former public official in Chicago and the longest serving advisor to President Obama, Valerie Jarrett has played a pivotal role in developing laws, policies and practices to make our nation more fair and equitable.   From revamping public housing in Chicago, to fighting for gender equity, to reforming the nation’s criminal justice system, Jarrett has been on the forefront of developing strategies to improve our culture and strengthen critical protections against discrimination.

Jarrett uses her personal story, including the close relationships she has developed with the country’s business leaders, civil rights leaders, mayors, governors and civic institutions, to provides a clear understanding of both the current challenges and opportunities as our country grapples with the state of race relations in America. As a corporate board member, Jarrett uniquely shares the current state of diversity in the corporate world and, what C-level executives need to do beyond a PR statement to improve the culture of inclusion in their companies. Hear directly from Jarrett on the competitive advantages to strengthening the diversity of your corporate team, the new responsibilities of corporate citizens and strategies to accomplish both.  

Finding My Voicearrow-down

Early in her career, Valerie Jarrett was painfully shy and intent on following her “plan.” In this conversation, Valerie will discuss how she found her voice, leaned into life’s “zig-zags,” and became the longest serving advisor to President Obama. Jarrett’s work included promoting equality for women and girls, advancing civil rights, reforming the criminal justice system, and improving the lives of working families. Jarrett uses her voice in her forthright, optimistic perspective on the importance of leadership and the responsibilities of citizenship in the twenty-first century, inspiring the audience to lift their own voices.

Building an Equal, Diverse and Inclusive Workplacearrow-down

In this conversation, Valerie discusses her passion and advocacy for workplace equality, diversity and inclusion. Working family issues have economic results that directly impact the ability to attract and retain the most talented workforce. From her experience as a CEO of the largest multi-family housing and development company in Chicago, to her board service as a director of numerous corporations and non-profit organizations, Valerie speaks directly to the importance of removing structural and cultural barriers that prevent employers from attracting and retaining a diverse and talented workforce.

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Over the years, we have had many extraordinarily accomplished speakers, but I am certain Valerie will go down in history as the most impactful. Her ability to translate her experiences and learnings into advice we can all understand, and most importantly, act upon, is magnificent.
 

Kaiser Permanente
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