Michelle Obama
Reach Higher Advisory Board Chair

Former First Lady of the United States

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is a lawyer, writer, mother, and the wife of the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama. She was the first African-American First Lady of the United States. She currently serves as the Chair of Reach Higher’s Advisory Board.

The daughter of Fraser and Marian Robinson, Michelle was born in Chicago, IL where she lived with her family in a brick bungalow on the South Side. Educated by Chicago’s public schools, Michelle studied sociology and African-American studies at Princeton University. She graduated from Harvard Law School in 1988, and joined the Chicago law firm Sidley & Austin, where she later met Barack Obama.

In 1996, after serving as assistant commissioner of planning and development in Chicago’s City Hall as well as serving as the founding executive director of the Chicago chapter of Public Allies, Mrs. Obama joined the University of Chicago with a vision of bringing campus and community together. Under her leadership as Vice President of Community and External Affairs for the University of Chicago Medical Center, volunteerism increased dramatically.

In 2014, Mrs. Obama launched the Reach Higher Initiative, an effort to inspire young people across America to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university. Reach Higher aimed to ensure that all students understood what they need to complete their education by working to expose students to college and career opportunities; helping them understand financial aid eligibility; encouraging academic planning and summer learning opportunities; and supporting high school counselors who do essential work to help students get into college.

In 2015, as part of her Reach Higher initiative, Mrs.Obama created the Better Make Room Campaign, to target Generation Z, young people ages 14-19, to celebrate education, change the national conversation, and reach students directly where they are and give them a space to create content while also navigating the college-going process. This campaign leverages traditional and new media platforms to celebrate student stories in the same way that we often celebrate celebrities and athletes. Better Make Room highlights the possibility of a better education, a better career, and a better future. Since leaving the White House in January 2017, Mrs. Obama continues to work on issues close to her heart including supporting Reach Higher and Better Make Room.