The University of Chicago Medical Center is about to lose its vice president for community and external relations, who in January plans to move to Washington with her husband, President-elect Barack Obama.
Michelle Obama joined the staff of the hospital in 2002 as executive director of community affairs and ascended to the vice president position in 2005. The Harvard-trained lawyer has previously worked for the powerhouse firm of Sidley Austin; at Chicagos City Hall; and for Public Allies, a not-for-profit organization that promotes public service. The hospital credits her with easing stress on the emergency room by reaching out to community physicians to form a network of primary-care and social services in the depressed South Side neighborhoods around the university. In a statement congratulating the soon-to-be first lady, Chief Executive Officer Jim Madara says, She changed the way we think about our community and how we fit into it.
Hospitals may be enthusiastic that someone who understands them and their challenges will be in the White House, but dont expect the next first lady to lead the charge for healthcare reform. Michelle Obama has been clear that her priorities as first lady will be the care of her daughters Sasha and Malia, and supporting military families.