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The Power of Our Network

President Obama shakes hands over a crowd of young people with various skin tones.
President Obama sits in a chair in a bright room and smiles off camera. He is wearing a light gray button down shirt.

Over the past few years, it’s sometimes felt like the only constant has been change—and 2022 only reaffirmed that feeling. 

From Russia’s brutal and unprovoked war in Ukraine, to the weakening of well-established democracies, to the flood of disinformation online and the rollback of freedoms that many had taken for granted, more and more of our bedrock values are under assault. 

These are complicated, intractable problems without easy answers. But Michelle and I will always believe that there are solutions—and they start with all of us. Because if we’re going to rebuild a stronger democratic culture and a more durable set of democratic institutions for the future, we all need to lead by example. 

That’s what the Obama Foundation is all about. Our goal is to inspire, empower, and connect people so they can change the world. And we’re doing it by giving emerging leaders the tools they need to become active citizens—and inspire others to do the same.

We still have a lot of work to do, but we’re proud of the progress we made in 2022. 

Last year, we connected Chicago high school students with local leaders so they could explore different careers as part of our Futures Series. We founded the Voyager Scholarship in partnership with Brian Chesky and Airbnb to support college students interested in public service and give them the chance to travel and learn more about the world. 

We launched the Leaders USA program that will help 100 changemakers across the country build new skills and grow their networks. We hosted the first-ever Obama Foundation Democracy Summit that brought our growing network of changemakers together to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing our world—from climate change and economic inequality to disinformation. And we watched as the Obama Presidential Center—which will serve as a permanent home for the Foundation’s mission—began to rise from the ground on the South Side of Chicago.

Our network is strengthening democracy, protecting our planet, supporting communities, telling stories that need to be told, helping women fight for their fundamental rights, changing the conversation about race, and much more. 

These leaders keep me going, and I hope they inspire you, too. Because in the end, it’s the promise, passion, and persistence of people like them that will determine the fate of democracy around the globe and help create a brighter future for us all. 

That’s the power of this network, and it’s why we do what we do. Thanks for being on the journey with us. 


A black signature on white background.
Valerie Jarrett sits listening with her hand up to her face. She wears blue and black glasses, a light blue blouse and a black jacket.

A Conversation with Valerie Jarrett

Read chief executive officer Valerie Jarrett’s reflection on the impact of our work in 2022 and her vision for the future, as told to Obama Foundation staff.

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