Meeting the President, Before he was President
As we celebrate the second inauguration of United States President Barack Obama today, I am reminded of the first time I met the man we now know to be President, when he was not yet our President. He was actually the U.S. Senator from Illinois, and we were both honored guests at the annual Black History Month event organized at the White House by then President George W. Bush. I wanted to meet him, and was introduced to the Senator by my brilliant government relations chief, Jena Roscoe, who has worked for me since she left President Bill Clinton's White House as his associate director of public liaison.
I shared my silver rights vision of Operation HOPE with the Senator, wanting to do more to serve the constituents of his state; with financial literacy for youth, financial and economic empowerment for adults and families, and financial dignity for all.
The Senator was supportive of our work, which we appreciated, but what also became immediately clear to me was both the aspiration and talents of the man I met as U.S. Senator. A man who was already looking far beyond even what I could have imagined as his possible impact. It became clear to both Jena (Roscoe) and I that he was going to achieve much more in short years to come. His view of his bold and energizing leadership contribution was clear even then. Very clear.
Today I have the honor to sit in service of the man I once met in another time and space. This man, is now the newly inaugurated President of the United States of America. President Barack Obama. Only in America. Only, in America. What a great country.
Honored to serve. And now it's time for us all to get down to work.
John Hope Bryant is a thought leader, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), the only African-American bestselling business author in America, and is chairman of the Subcommittee for the Under-Served and Community Empowerment for the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, for President Barack Obama. Mr. Bryant is the co-founder of the Gallup-HOPE Index, the only national research poll on youth financial dignity and youth economic energy in the U.S. He is also a co-founder of Global Dignity with HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Professor Pekka Himanen of Finland. Global Dignity is affiliated with the Forum of Young Global Leaders and the World Economic Forum. Mr. Bryant is a though leader represented by the Bright Sight Group for public speaking. Mr. Bryant serves on the board of directors of Ares Commercial Real Estate Corporation, an NYSE Euronext publicly traded company, and a division of $54 billion Ares Capital.