From prior posts, including this one, you may know that I am the National Work At Home Network Director for Mocha Moms, Inc., a non-profit support group for mothers who have chosen not to work full-time outside of the home in order to devote more time to their families and communities. I joined Mocha Moms within weeks of the birth of my first child. I was lost, exhausted, frustrated, confused and unsure of whether I could be a good enough mother. Mocha Moms saved my new mom life, and for that, I will always be a grateful participant.
What an honor to be invited to the White House! Can you imagine? This photo features the wonderful women of Mocha Moms national board, who organized the briefing: Kenya Robinson, Kim Scott, Gabriela Sanchez, Kuae Mattox, LaShaun Phillips-Martin, Shalaun Newton, and Cheli English-Figaro. In case you've never been to a White House briefing before (I hadn't), this one was designed to connect the President's top policy advisors and strategists with Mocha Moms, which has a tremendous amount of influence within in the nationwide mommy community. In about a 4-hour time period, we listened to and questioned the following White House Advisors.
- The Honorable Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
- Heather Foster, Associate Director, White House Office of Public Engagement
- Michael Strautmanis. Associate Director, White House Office of Public Engagement
- Dr. Nadine Gracia, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health, Department of Health and Human Services
- Jocelyn Frye, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Policy and Special Projects for the First Lady
- Tina Tchen, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady. This extraordinarily busy and personable woman made me wonder if she secretly had more hours in each day than the rest of us. Referencing the First Lady's much-publicized push up competition on the Ellen Show, and never turning down an invitation to dance with grade schoolers, Tina joked that Michelle Obama would do anything to promote American health and fitness.
- Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the Domestic Policy Council. Muñoz spoke at great length about jobs and the ailing economy. During the Q&A session, I asked Muñoz about entrepreneurship, pointing out that so many moms (and certainly the next generation) do not have access to an abundance of jobs, as past generations have had. She assured me that, among other things, the President's elevation of the SBA Administrator to a cabinet level position last month is evidence of his commitment to ensuring the success of small business owners. Here I am posing the question.
I didn't get a chance to ask what would have been my follow-up question, having to do with whether the SBA would continue to exist now that the President has announced plans to consolidate it with several other federal agencies as part of the elevation. I hope to create future opportunities for much-needed elaboration on that point, particularly as it concerns what I described to Muñoz as “micro-business owners” who are not creating jobs for others so much as they are creating jobs for themselves as what I call consumer business owners.
Watch statements from President Obama about the projected impact of his consolidation plan on small businesses, beginning at 14:00:
- Stephanie Owens, Deputy Association Administration, Environmental Protection Agency
- Tyra Mariani, Deputy Chief of Staff, Department of Education
- Jon Carson, Director of the Office of Public Engagement
It was also a great honor to have Karyn Parsons, the actress who played Hillary Banks on The Fresh Prince of BelAir, join us and share remarks about her mothering experiences and Sweet Blackberry, the non-profit organization she launched to bring little known stories of African American achievement to children everywhere.
We enjoyed presentations about White House policy in dozens of areas, including the newly released budget, childhood obesity, the new health care law and other Administration priorities. Each presenter graciously took the time to answer a few questions before they had to leave.
We were so honored to have such high level officials caring about the concerns of our nation's mothers. Along with my fellow Mocha Moms, I look forward to opportunities to continue the dialogue.
By the way, you can watch the entire briefing online here.
Question: Have you ever attended a White House briefing? What questions should I ask in the future about small business, especially concerning “micro” small business owners who are also parents?