Special guests sit in the First Lady's Box during the State of the Union address by President Barack Obama on Tues., Jan. 28, 2014, according to information released by the White House on Jan. 28. Seated with Michelle Obama will be Dr. Biden; Special advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett; and special guests who represent the stories of millions of Americans.
The President will mention the guests seated with the First Lady as he illustrates the points he is making during his annual speech. The honored guests represent the stories of millions of Americans across the country, who are working hard to better their communities, improve their own economic outcomes and help restore opportunity for all.
From the listing of guests, the topics being addressed by the President include workplace issues, minumum wage, unemployment, healthcare reform, education, student loans, poverty, heroism, military, immigration reform, healthy lifestyle,
Following is a listing of the special guests to be seated with First Lady MIchell Obama during the State of the Union Address. Information about these guests and news about the State of the Union is available at WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU.
Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman (Boston, MA) are survivors of the Boston Marathon Bombing
In what has become an iconic image from the day in April of 2013, Carlos – wearing his white Cowboy hat – was captured rushing a badly injured Jeff away from the bombing to safety, thereby becoming two of the faces of ‘Boston Strong.’ Jeff, 27, who lost both his legs in the attack played a vital role in identifying the bombers. Carlos, 53, is a Gold Star Father.
Aliana Arzola-Piñero (San Juan, Puerto Rico): Fourth-grader Aliana 2013 Kids State Dinner Attendee who participated in the First Lady's 2012 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and represented Puerto Rico at the 2013 Kid’s State Dinner hosted by the First Lady. Her winning recipe “Yummy Eggplant Lasagna Rolls,” incorporates the “My Plate” guidelines. Aliana has worked hard to translate her experience visiting the White House into concrete steps to benefit her community, championing healthy eating and an active lifestyle for kids.
Cristian Avila (Phoenix, AZ): DREAMer, “Core Faster” and Voter Engagement Coordinator, Mi Familia Vota; Cristian Avila, 23, was brought to the United States with his younger brother and sister when he was nine-years-old. His undocumented status has limited him, even though he became an All-American scholar by 7th grade and received a full scholarship to a private Jesuit high school. Last year he received temporary relief from deportation through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).Cristian is fighting for commonsense immigration reform so he can one day join the US Marine Corps and serve our country in uniform.
Mary Barra (Detroit, MI): Mary Barra was named Chief Executive Officer of General Motors effective Jan.15, 2014. In this role, she leads the company’s overall efforts to strengthen GM globally as an industry leader in automotive design and technology, product quality, customer care and business results. She is also a member of the GM Board of Directors and the first female CEO in the company’s history.
Governor Steve Beshear (D-KY): After serving three terms in the Kentucky House of Representatives, and as Kentucky’s Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor, Steve Beshear was elected Governor in 2007. Governor Beshear has worked closely with the Obama Administration to provide affordable health care to the people of Kentucky.
Gary Bird (Moore, OK): Fire Chief Gary Bird represents all of those who rallied together to help the community of Moore, Oklahoma, including firefighters, police officers, search and rescue crews, teachers, neighbors – in the aftermath of the EF5 tornado. The tornade that that hit Moore killed 25 men, women and children and devastatied a community of more than 1,000 homes and businesses.
Jason Collins (Los Angeles, CA): 12-Year NBA Player Jason Collins, 35, was at Stanford when he was selected as an All American, named the NCAA’s “Big Man of the Year,” and earned an appearance in the Final Four. After graduating in 2001, Collins was drafted into the NBA and has since played for six teams including the Celtics. In April 2013, Collins became the first male player in major American team sports to come out openly as gay. The President said he “couldn’t be prouder” of Collins, recognizing this as a point of progress for the LGBT community, and one more step in America’s goal to treat everyone fairly and with respect.
Tyrone Davis (Winston-Salem, NC) Fellow with the Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate Corps: Tyron has been legally blind since the age of nine. Despite his vision loss, he ran cross-country and track in high school, and received a political science degree and Masters of Public Administration from North Carolina State University. He developed an interest in environmental issues during his time as an undergraduate, which led to a fellowship with the Environmental Defense Fund in 2010. Now in his third year at Elon University School of Law, Tyrone hopes to use his skills to benefit the environment and make communities safer.
Kathy Hollowell-Makle, (Washington, DC) 2013 DCPS Teacher of the Year: Kathy Hollowell-Makle was named 2013’s District of Columbia Public School’s Teacher of the Year after more than 15 years teaching in the District.
Vice Admiral Michelle Howard (Washington, DC) Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans & Strategy: This year, Vice Admiral Michelle Howard will become the first female four-star Admiral in the 238-year-history of the United States Navy, and the first African-American female to achieve four-star rank in the history of the military.
Joey Hudy (Anthem, AZ) “Maker” and Intel Intern: Joey Hudy is a self-described “Maker,” part of a growing community of young people, adults, and entrepreneurs who are designing and building things on their own time. Earlier this month, he started as Intel’s youngest intern, a position Intel CEO Brian Krzanich offered him on the spot at his Maker Faire exhibit.
Sabrina Simone Jenkins (Charleston, SC): Sabrina has faced obstacles but persevered in getting herself educated to build.a better life for herself and her family. Sabrina served in the Air Force, took classes at DeVry University and earned her master’s degree in human resources in 2012. Sabrina is currently saddled with nearly $90,000 in student loan debt. A single mother, Sabrina faces sending her daughter to go to college. Sabrina’s resolve brought her to the attention of The Shriver Report, which seeks to highlight the 1 in 3 American women living on the brink of poverty. The President is determined to help Americans who are working hard and doing the right things to get ahead.
Mayor Ed Lee (San Francisco, CA) is the son of Chinese immigrants and the first Asian-American Mayor of San Francisco, a position he’s held for more than three years. He previously served as San Francisco’s City Administrator and Director of the Department of Public Works. In 2013, he hosted a series of town halls to mobilize the Silicon Valley business community in support of immigration reform. Mayor Lee is also working on a proposal to significantly increase San Francisco’s minimum wage.
Andra Rush (Detroit, MI): Founder and Chairperson, The Rush Group, Detroit Manufacturing Systems:
Andra Rush is a descendant of the Mohawk Tribe from the Six-Nation Reservation, and the founder and chairperson of the Rush Group family of companies, which include Rush Trucking, Dakkota Integrated Systems, and Detroit Manufacturing Systems. This consortium of manufacturing, trucking, assembly, and distribution is one of the largest Native American-owned businesses in the country.
Amanda Shelley (Gilbert, AZ) Physician Assistant: Amanda Shelley, 37, was unable to get insurance due to a pre-existing condition, but that changed on Jan. 1, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
Antoinette Tuff (Atlanta, GA) DeKalb County Bookkeeper: On Aug. 20, 2013, the world learned of the compassion and heroism of Antoinette Tuff, who prevented a shooting at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy, by talking down the would-be shooter.” Antoinette has been nominated for the Carnegie Medal for civilian heroism.
Estiven Rodriguez (New York, NY) Student, Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School: Estiven Rodriguez, the son of a Dominican immigrant, spoke no English at the age of nine, but he learned English and is now a high school senior. Estiven is headed for Dickinson College in the fall on a Posse Foundation Scholarship, making him a first-generation college student. His story underscores the importance of the President’s goal to give all kids a chance to get ahead, regardless of the circumstances of their birth.
John Soranno (St. Paul, MN): John Soranno, the CEO of Punch Pizza, fell in love with pizza as a child growing up in Milan, Italy, John Soranno fell in love with pizza. He moved to the United States, where he finished his schooling. John founded Punch Pizza in Minnesota in 1996 and is currently co-owner with John Puckett, with whom he partnered in 2001. John and John credit the company's growth on their focus on how they treat their customers and employees, paying a mininum of $10 an hour to show how much they value their workers.
Nick Chute (Minneapolis, MN) is a Kitchen Worker at Punch Pizza (see above). Nick has been working at Punch Pizza for a year and a half ago, while attending college. In December, Nick graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in philosophy and is still with Punch Pizza, learning to cook pizzas in the traditional Neapolitan style with the goal of becoming certified pizzaioli and moving into a management. Regarding the company's raise in pay, Nick said, “I appreciate it, and it makes me feel like a bigger part of the company.