Skip to content

What you missed: The Obama Foundation public meeting in Chicago

Obama Foundation panel at Public Meeting at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, September 14, 2017.

"I want you to be my partner in this journey going forward again because I think this will be something that makes you just as proud as that night on Grant Park when we shattered some barriers." —President Obama

Last night, the Obama Foundation hosted a public meeting in Chicago, bringing together hundreds of local residents to hear more about the Obama Presidential Center plans and share their thoughts, ideas, and feedback with us.

Michael Strautmanis, Vice President of Civic Engagement, started the conversation by speaking about the Center’s role in the community: “We don’t just want to be in Chicago. We want to be of Chicago. We want to be for Chicago. And we want to be with Chicago, using our city’s indomitable spirit to help us keep fighting the good fight. With your help, we’ll do just that.”

Our architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien shared their vision for the design, Michael Van Valkenburgh spoke about the surrounding landscape, and museum director Louise Bernard walked through the visitor's experience at the OPC. President Obama also dropped in via live video to answer questions from the crowd and talk about why he and Mrs. Obama chose to develop the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park, to give back to a community that has given them so much.

President Obama spoke about wanting the Center to be a place of life and vibrancy, with plans for features like a playground, a basketball court, a test kitchen, and a recording studio. He also emphasized the economic development the Center with generate for the South Side and our plans to create meaningful opportunities and jobs for local businesses, community members, and underrepresented communities in the South Side and throughout Chicago, including minority youth and ex-offenders seeking a second chance.

A room full of various people sit in chairs as they record and take pictures of video playing a large screen of President Obama as people sit on a panel in the far back as the Obama Foundation logo is projected

After hearing from members of the Obama Foundation team, attendees joined conversations with the Center’s designers, architects, and staff about the plans and proposed features, viewed the OPC design model, and shared their ideas about what it means to be an active citizen with us on an interactive chalkboard installation.

A woman with medium brown and a ponytail wearing a blue jacket and a black red and white book bag writing on a black board with a blue marker
An older man with a light neutral tone skin tone talking to two young black men with a dark skin tone

As President Obama said, our neighbors in Chicago are critical partners throughout this entire process, and we look forward to hearing more from you as we bring the Obama Presidential Center to life.

Check out the presentation shown at the meeting (Opens in a new tab), and follow along with Foundation happenings like these and other news by signing up for our email list.