Michelle Obama:

General in a sleeveless dress

By —— Bio and Archives--March 11, 2009

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imageSince July of 2008, the chattering classes of America have been uneasy about Barack Obama’s proposal for a civilian national security force “as well-funded as the U.S. military”. (video).

The civilian national security force was already in place long before last July’s public proposal.  Its general doesn’t wear army fatigues but sleeveless dresses.

The General of this national security force is not out in the field in Iraq or Afghanistan, but running the troops from the White House. Meet First Lady Michelle Obama, General of Public Allies New Leadership for New Times.

Public Allies, modeled after Saul Alinsky’s “Peoples Organizations”, operating under General Michelle Obama, has an alleged operating budget of more than $75-million a year, and an impressive list of donors. (The Obama Files).  Naturally, it also receives grants from federal, state and municipal sources.


One third of Public Allies’ annual budget comes from AmeriCorps. To get an idea of this combo’s people power: “By early April, Obama will sign landmark legislation expanding AmeriCorps from 75,000 participants to 250,000 over the next few years.” (NewsWeek). 

According to a Fact Sheet About Public Allies, President Obama was a member of the founding advisory board of the non-profit organization.  Michelle was the founding Executive Director of Public Allies Chicago from Spring, 1993 until Fall 1996 (italics CFP’s).  She served on Public Allies national board of directors from 1997 until 2001.  Obama was no longer on the board of Public Allies when Michelle was hired.  Before joining Public Allies, she was an attorney at the law firm of Sidley & Austin and Deputy Director of Community Development for the City of Chicago.

The Fact Sheet states,

“Under Michelle’s leadership, Public Allies Chicago pioneered many elements of Public Allies’ program model.  To identify and develop the next generation of Chicago leaders, she recruited young people from housing projects and youth centers as well (as) colleges and universities.  Her emphasis on indigenous leadership and belief that all people have potential to lead became a core value of our leadership philosophy.  When she left, Public Allies Chicago had a cash reserve, a committed board, a talented young staff, and a network of diverse, talented young leaders in Chicago who continue to serve the community today.  Michelle was also a pioneer in the social entrepreneur movement—leaders who create new approaches and organize to provide new solutions to social problems.

“At her subsequent jobs at the University of Chicago and University of Chicago Medical Centre, Michelle hired more than a dozen Public Allies to work with her.  In addition, she has continued to advise, coach, donate to, and champion Public Allies.  President-elect Obama has trained several classes of Allies in community organizing, spoken at Public Allies Chicago events, and helped Senator Durbin secure an appropriation from the Department of Justice that successfully helped us better recruit and retain young men of color for our Chicago program and learn practices we are applying nationally.”

  Public Allies CEO Paul Schmitz gives this ringing endorsement of Michelle Obama: “The Chicago program she pioneered really created the template we all work from today.”

Costs vary from $24,000 to $28,000 per Ally, per annum.  An AmeriCorps grant covers about one third of costs, and Partner Organizations (the organizations where Allies are placed in apprenticeship) cover another one third.  The remaining one third comes from in-kind contributions and Operating Partner fundraising.

The Godfather of Public Allies, self-described as a “non-partisan organization” which “does not endorse candidates for election”, is former President George H.W. Bush, who identified Public Allies as a model for national service and funded Public Allies pilot program.

States Public Allies: “Under President Clinton, we grew from a pilot to a national program, and under President George W. Bush, we more than doubled in size and were contracted to provide training and technical assistance to other grantees of the Corporation for Nation and Community Service.”

Meanwhile, Wikipedia in the news this week for scrubbing all ties to Obama’s birth certificate and terrorist William Ayers, claiming its Obama page is only in lockdown, has left Public Allies, which originates from Alinsky’s “Peoples Organizations”, intact. 

Further Reading:
The Obama File


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Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years’ experience in the print media. A former Toronto Sun columnist, she also worked for the Kingston Whig Standard. Her work has appeared on Rush Limbaugh, Newsmax.com, Drudge Report, Foxnews.com.

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