Meeting Michelle Obama in Chicago — Barack Obama & Oprah speak to Women Leaders – Drue’s art exhibit celebrates America

10.24.08 | Category: Breaking News, Power Zen, Uncategorized, Valley Future, Zen Government

Drue and Bill meet Michelle Obama
ValleyZen was invited to attend the National Women’s Leadership Initiative National Issues Conference. Billed as “the pinnacle event of the general election to highlight the importance of women’s leadership,” it drew women from all 50 states. Mega donors as well as high-level policy makers and senior campaign advisors converged on the Chicago Sheraton Towers to focus on “issues.” Don’t miss our flickr photo set HERE. Watch a video slide show of the meeting with Michelle Obama here or embedded below.

Senator Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, Senator Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden and special guests, Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King took center stage. National Co-Chair Women’s Leadership Initiative, Eileen Donahoe set the tone for the day with her moving introduction for Oprah Winfrey.

One of our favorite panels was on Economic Security and featured the brilliant Robert E. Rubin, Former Secretary of the Treasury, and Director and Senior Counselor to Citigroup, Inc., Laura Tyson, Former National Economic Advisor to President Clinton, and moderator Mellody Hobson, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Ariel Investment Trust and Good Morning America financial contributor.
Drue's art exhibit in Chicago
Drue had a special exhibit of her original paintings that was on display including her post-Katrina tribute scroll Return to Old and New Orleans and the ValleyZen Crane.

A grand highlight was for ValleyZen to meet the Bidens as well as speak personally with Michelle Obama.

Michelle’s calm beauty imparts a sense of Zen calm to those next to her. Her warmth is palpable. She seems to have an otherworldly capability of stretching out time and suspending or pausing all that is whirring about her.

Drue had an inspiring conversation with Michelle Obama about the importance the arts must play in rebuilding America. Michelle was entirely in tune with that— and down with it. Art can strengthen America’s image abroad with cultural diplomacy. In addition —it’s more important now than ever to cultivate creativity, our most precious resource, albeit renewable. That’s a message the Silicon Valley audience can dig.

Drue wore the iconic Flag Dress by Catherine Malandrino.

18 Comments so far

  1. Vlasta Diamant


    A second lift off. The way to go. Congratulations!

  2. Drue Kataoka

    Thank you for your metaphor Vlasta.

  3. Mary Kay

    Art always falls on the sidelines. Politicians only care about our material well-being, but not about our spiritual development. They campaign about improving science education (whether they actually do it is a different story), but nobody talks about arts education. I hope that Michelle Obama is speaking from the heart!

  4. Costa Casasbuenas

    Wow, I am speechless and feel very happy to see ValleyZen facilitating this cross-road! It shows new and inspiring ways of doing politics which might bring together solidarity, sensibility, respect, example and very good taste. We are living exciting times. Mil gracias!

  5. Kurious

    Fabulous to see ValleyZen lending its warmth and charm to the softer side of national politics. The lovely flute music brought me fully into the pictures of Drue and Michelle. Where can I view the Return to Old and New Orleans?

    Drue, your dress is perfect; I’m kurious if it was cold for you in Chicago, since Michelle was so bundled up in her lovely grey suit. Sorry Bill, I already don’t remember what you were wearing! Ordinarily I wouldn’t notice what anyone wears, except that I’ve been watching the fallout on CNN about Sarah’s $150,000 wardrobe. Thus, ValleyZen has scored again, with the Zen of being both well-dressed and timely.

  6. Drue Kataoka

    @ Costa – Thank you for your warm response. It was wonderful to see and feel how hip Mrs. Obama was to the fact that art needs to be integrated into (not separated from) our national vision. We very much appreciate your kind words about ValleyZen facilitating this cross-road. With a diverse community of extraordinary people like you, I hope we are starting the discussion here on this blog.

    @ Kurious – Appreciate your response about my flute music. We actually did a special ValleyZen recording session to record America on my gold flute for Mrs. Obama.

    You can see a very small photo of Return to Old and New Orleans here but it does not do the piece justice.
    The framed painting can also be seen at the bottom of this page.

    Thanks for your au courant fashion comments. The dress I wore was the iconic Flag Dress by Catherine Malandrino. A very light and fluttery chiffon which to me shows the fragility of the American flag and at the same time its strength in the bold stars and stripes.

    We spoke with Mrs. Obama indoors, and she was the embodiment of elegance with that simple suit and black pearls that almost glowed.

  7. Bill Fenwick

    @Kurious – Interesting moniker. Thanks for your comment. Not only do you not remember what I was wearing—–but all I can remember is shirt, suit, tie and shoes.

    It is nice to be able to say that I have never participated in a large group that is so focused, active and competent. It was not for males with weak self image. The group’s dynamic was very unique. The information disseminated was fresh and enlightening. The new president could select his full cabinet from the group and have one of the strongest cabinets of any past president

  8. eth.

    Congrats Drue! Another coup for ValleyZen. And my hometown of Chicago seems such a perfect venue for it, with both its cultural legacy and long line of strong women forged in the trials of the four seasons, Harpo and Michelle Obama among them!

  9. sandra

    Drue…you’re still beyond this world and really in the spirit: the valley, zen and America.
    I loved your your portrait of Michelle Obama’s spirit in words; it gave me a rich insight into her spirit.

    Thank you so much.

  10. Drue Kataoka

    @ Eth- Thanks for joining this discussion as a native Chicagoan. As Oprah told us — “Chicago is my kind of town.” That was just one of her many moments that brought down the house. Strong women indeed. And referencing another part of Oprah’s speech she sang out — “Sacagawea and Sojourner Truth…”

    @ Sandra – I very much am moved by your phrase “portrait in words.”
    So cool that you are part of the ValleyZen ecosystem.

  11. Stickers and Donuts

    What a cool experience!

  12. Mrs. T

    With Drue’s permission, we did a post about one of the featured photographs over at Mrs. O, a blog dedicated to Michelle Obama’s style. We’re absolutely grateful to be able to showcase this photograph on our site – both women look simply stunning.

  13. dkreiss

    What an awesome experience, Drue! Your description of Michelle’s “otherworldly capability of stretching out time and suspending or pausing all that is whirring about her” reminds me of some campaign field directors I met in Nevada last week who are doing the ground work for what is hopefully victory on Tuesday!

  14. Drue Kataoka

    @ Stickers – Thanks!

    @ Mrs. T – Thank you for pointing out the “Mrs. O” blog. A wonderful concept!

    @ DKreiss – Excellent — please elaborate and tell us about Nevada!

  15. Gemini

    Hello Drue
    I wanted to let you know I think your site is amazing as are your pics with Mrs. Obama
    I wanted to know if Michelle commented on your dress?
    And for those interested here is Michelle speaking at the event

  16. Erryn

    Drue, what an incredible experience! I absolutely love your description of Michelle Obama. You both look fabulous in your outfits. I look forward to seeing your art and reading more of your insightful comments in the near future.

    It’s interesting, too, because you seem to be a living flag, representing America’s hopes and dreams with your art, while saluting our soon-to-be First Lady. I also liked the post they placed on Mrs. O about you and the First Lady. These will certainly be exciting times because the Obamas will have great cultural influence.

  17. Jones

    French designer, Catherine Malandrino must love her adopted country in order to design a “flag dress”. Do tell, is the dress made in the USA?

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