Adebola Williams’ Speech, Conversation with Michelle Obama

The second and final day of the maiden Obama Foundation Summit (#ObamaSummit) began in high notes with a superb session on Business & Society. The session, moderated by Cecilia Muñoz, delved into the role workplaces and employers play in building strong, healthy communities.

Speakers included Andy Puddicombe (Headspace), David Simas (Obama Foundation), Ai-jen Poo (National Domestic Workers Alliance), Hamdi Ulukaya(Chobani), Joe Gebbia (Airbnb) Brian Alexander (Author), and Mary Kay Henry(SEIU).

In a conversation with poet Elizabeth AlexanderMichelle Obama discussed politics, community engagement, growing up on the South Side, work-life balance and raising children.

Michelle urged women to find their voices and use them, saying: “If we don’t teach our young girls to speak at an early age, that doesn’t just happen. It takes practice to have a voice. You have to use it again, and again, and again before you can say ‘no,’ or ‘stop,’ or ‘don’t touch me’.”

She cautioned against the use of Twitter, saying: “This whole tell-it-like-it-is business, that’s nonsense. You don’t just say what’s on your mind. You don’t tweet every thought.”

The closing session explored the importance of collective power to provide solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. People who have found common cause are inventing and adapting solutions to solve problems in their communities.

Adebola Williams, Managing Partner, RED, who was one of the speakers of the final session, discussed how his company is using the media to drive development across Nigeria and the African continent. At the end of the speech, the audience, including Barack Obama, gave him a standing ovation.

Other speakers were Liz Dozier (Chicago Beyond), Eric Liu (Citizen University), Common (Actor and Musician), Brenda Eheart (Generations of Hope), Tina Rosenberg (Solutions Journalism Network), Chef José Andrés (ThinkFoodGroup) Michael Tubbs (Mayor of Stockton, CA), and Bryan Stevenson (Equal Justice Initiative).

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