Michelle Obama is known as one of the most influential women of our generation, and has earned her prominent title through her various political campaigns in support of her husband, Barack Obama’s presidential election, her work as First Lady, her iconic fashion sense, and her notable memoir, “Becoming.”
Born in Chicago, Illinois, Michelle earned her first degree at Princeton University, graduating in Sociology and African American Studies. Thereafter, she furthered her studies at Harvard Law School. She embarked on her career journey in 1989 at the Sidley Austin LLP firm as a junior associate in intellectual property law. This is also where she met her future husband, Barack Obama!
In 1991, Michelle moved on to pursue a position in the public sector of the Chicago government and worked as an assistant to then Chicago mayor, Richard M. Daley. Within the following year, she began working as Assistant Commissioner of Planning and Development and in the next year, became the executive director for the Chicago office of Public Allies, a non-profit organization that encouraged young people to work on social issues in non-profit groups and government agencies, where she set several fundraising records.
In 1996, she served as the Associate Dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago until 2002 when she took on the position of executive director of community affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals. By the year 2005, she worked as vice president for Community and External Affairs.
As her husband embarked on his run for president, Michelle shifted her focus from her own work and reduced it to part-time in order to support her husband. She ran various presidential campaigns, which was Michelle’s first exposure in national politics.
After the election of Barack Obama’s presidency in 2009, she became the First Lady. She used her influence to support various homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and women’s rights courses. One of the various initiatives Michelle became passionate about was supporting military families and spouses, and one which many have come to know her for, was her advocacy for healthy eating and organic food to promote an end to childhood obesity. The former First Lady even planted a massive organic food garden at the White House! Michelle’s career as First Lady ended in 2017 when Barack Obama’s term as president ended.
As her political career ended, she published her inspiring memoir in 2018 called “Becoming” which was a huge commercial success as it became the highest-selling book in the U.S of 2018 just 15 days after publication and sold over two million copies! One million copies were donated to First Book, a NPO that provides books to children. Published in 24 languages, “Becoming” tells the story of Michelle’s roots and how she found her voice. The audio version of her memoir won a Grammy for ‘Best Spoken Word Album.’
Within the same year of 2018, Michelle and Barack signed a deal with Netflix to produce series and films through their Higher Ground production company. They released their first documentary in 2019 called “American Factory” which tells the story about the 2015 launch of a Chinese-owned factory in Ohio, which earned several awards including an Academy Award for ‘Best Documentary Feature’ in 2020. Their second Netflix documentary is based on Michelle’s “Becoming” book tour. Michelle now owns her own Spotify podcast called “The Michelle Obama Podcast” which tackles deep conversations about how the relationships in our lives make us who we are.
In 2021, Michelle was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. In the same year, she announced that she and Barack will be retiring to spend more time with each other and their daughters.