The big speech: Who got the invite to which box tonight?
The last time President Obama spoke to a joint session of Congress was at his State of the Union address in January.
September 8th, 2011
02:00 PM ET

The big speech: Who got the invite to which box tonight?

Ahead of the president's major speech tonight to a joint session of Congress to lay out his jobs program both sides (The President and House Speaker) have released the lists of who they have invited to their boxes to watch.  (any tea leaves to read here?)

Guests invited by the White House to listen to the speech from the First Lady’s box in the House: (as released by the White House)

Jeffrey Immelt

Jeffrey R. Immelt is the ninth chairman and CEO of GE, a post he has held since September 7, 2001. Immelt currently serves as the chairman of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.  Immelt has held several global leadership positions since coming to GE in 1982, including roles in GE’s Plastics, Appliance, and Medical businesses. In 1989 he became an officer of GE and joined the GE Capital Board in 1997. In 2000, Immelt was appointed president and chief executive officer.  Immelt has been named one of the “World’s Best CEOs” three times by Barron’s, and since he began serving as chief executive officer, GE has been named “America’s Most Admired Company” in a poll conducted by Fortune magazine and one of “The World’s Most Respected Companies” in polls by Barron’s and the Financial Times.  Immelt is also a member of The Business Council, and he is on the board of the New York Federal Reserve Bank.  Mr. Immelt earned a B.A. degree in applied mathematics fromDartmouthCollegein 1978 and an M.B.A. fromHarvardUniversityin 1982. He and his wife have one daughter.

Steve Case

Steve Case, currently chairman & CEO of Revolution LLC and chairman of the Startup America Partnership, is one ofAmerica’s most accomplished entrepreneurs and philanthropists. Steve co-founded America Online in 1985, and under his leadership, AOL became the world’s largest and most valuable Internet company. In 2005, Steve founded Revolution LLC, focused on investing in and building disruptive, innovative, consumer-facing companies such as Zipcar, LivingSocial and Exclusive Resorts.  Earlier this year at the White House, Case helped launch the Startup America Partnership, an independent private-sector coalition delivering strategic and substantive resources to help entrepreneurs start and scale companies across theU.S., in response to the President’s call to action.  Case also serves as a co-chair of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and is a member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, where he co-chairs the working group on high-growth companies. In addition, Steve chairs the Case Foundation, which seeks to tap new technologies and entrepreneurial approaches to help strengthen the social sector.


Darlene Miller

Darlene Miller is a small business owner and CEO of Permac Industries, a precision machining company custom manufacturing precision parts for customers worldwide in virtually all industries located inBurnsville,Minnesota. Miller currently serves as a member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.  She started working as a Sales Representative at Permac in 1992, became part owner in 1993 to 100% ownership of the company in 1994. Under Miller’s leadership Permac Industries was named the U.S. Chamber Small Business of the Year for the entireUSAin 2008. Miller is currently a member of the U.S. Chamber Board of Directors and Advisory Council, board of directors for PMPA and MPMA (Manufacturing Trade Associations), and the Minnesota Valley Medical Manufacturers network (MEDNET), which she co-founded in 2006. 

Kenneth Chenault

Kenneth Chenault is the Chairman and CEO of American Express Company.  Ken Chenault joined American Express in September 1981 and assumed his current responsibilities as CEO and Chairman in 2001. Chenault currently serves as a member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Chenault serves on the boards of American Express and several other corporate and nonprofit organizations, including IBM, The Procter & Gamble Company, the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, theNationalCenter on Addiction & Substance Abuse atColumbiaUniversity, the Smithsonian Institution’s Advisory Council for the National Museum of African American History & Culture, and the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation. He also is on the boards of the Partnership forNew York City, The Business Council and the Business Roundtable and serves as Vice Chairman of each of these organizations.


Richard Trumka

Richard Trumka is the president of the AFL-CIO. Mr. Trumka was elected president of the AFL-CIO in September 2009. His election followed 14 years of service as Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO. Trumka is a third-generation coal miner fromNemacolin,Penn., began working in the mines at age 19. Trumka currently serves as a member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.  As a member of UMWA Local 6290, he served as Chairman of the Safety Committee. He soon became an activist in the Miners for Democracy reform movement. Trumka worked in the mines for more than seven years, supporting himself while attendingPennsylvaniaStateUniversity, where earned a Bachelor of Science degree, and throughVillanovaUniversity, where he received a law degree. He served four years on the legal staff of the United Mine Workers before returning to the coal mines in 1979. He was elected to the UMWA executive board in 1981 and elected international president in 1982.


Governor Martin O’Malley

Governor Martin O’Malley is currently serving his second term as governor ofMaryland. He also serves as the chair of the Democratic Governors Association and co-chair of the National Governor’s Association’s Special Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety. Prior to assuming the governorship, O’Malley served on the Baltimore City Council from 1991 to 1999, was appointed assistant state's attorney for the city ofBaltimore, and then served as the Mayor of Baltimore for two terms. As Governor, O’Malley has focused on job creation by spurring innovation in all sectors of business, academia, and government. O'Malley holds a BA fromCatholicUniversityand JD from theUniversityofMaryland. He and his wife, Katie, a District court judge have four children.

Mayor Mark Mallory

A lifelong Cincinnatian, Mallory was elected Mayor of Cincinnati in 2005 and won a second term in 2009.  In 1994, he succeeded his father, Majority Floor Leader William L. Mallory, Sr., in the Ohio House of Representatives.  Four years later, he moved to the Ohio Senate where he rose to the position of Assistant Minority Leader.  He is the first directly-elected black Mayor of Cincinnati and holds a bachelor’s degree from theUniversityofCincinnati.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Antonio Villaraigosa was first elected mayor in 2005, then re-elected in 2009.  He is the current resident of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM).  In 2008, Mayor Villaraigosa passed a sales tax increase to invest in creating 166,000 transportation jobs inLos Angeles.  As president of USCM, he has led a bipartisan coalition of 165 mayors in support of an extension of the transportation reauthorization bill. 

Dr. Albert Green

Dr. Green is CEO of Kent Displays, a rapidly expanding small business inKent,Ohio, and serves on its Board of Directors. He has held these positions since joining the company in June 2007.  In February, Dr. Green participated in the “Winning the Future Small Business Forum” inCleveland. As Kent Displays CEO, he has used his unique skill set to drive development and commercialization of the company’s Reflex™ No Power LCDs for several high growth applications including eReaders, eWriters, electronic skins and eCard displays. Since Dr. Green took the reins of Kent Displays CEO in 2007, he has guided the company’s transition from a focus on research and development to product development and manufacturing. Under his leadership, Kent Displays successfully launched the award-winning Boogie Board LCD Writing Tablet in 2010 and formed Improv Electronics, a Kent Displays subsidiary focused on consumer products. The tablet’s writing surface is a flexible Reflex LCD manufactured on the world’s only roll-to-roll LCD production line, which began operation in 2008 at the company’s headquarters inKent,Ohio. This successful consumer product has driven a doubling of revenue and employment in the past 2 years.


Jan Heister

Jan Heister is president and chairperson of the Board of Directors for Premier Tooling and Mfg., Inc. inPeosta,Iowa.  Jan participated in a small business session during the Rural Economic Forum inPeosta,Iowalast month.  Jan originally became involved in the office and administrative operations of Premier to relieve James Heister of a number of duties in these areas.  These duties have expanded over the past few years to encompass her current total management of the company.  Prior to joining Premier, Jan worked in hospital and clinic settings as a Registered Nurse.  While working in the hospital she served as supervisor of an operating room, recovery room, and charge nurse on the medical-surgical unit.  She has also worked 12 years as an office nurse in an orthopedic clinic.  Jan is a graduate of The Finley Hospital School of Nursing.

Philip Maung

Philip Maung is a small business owner and founder of Hissho Sushi, a 200-employee company headquartered in southwestCharlottethat trains sushi chefs and distributes ingredients for the food across the country. The company was founded 13 years ago.  The company has grown consistently in the past decade, including a 62 percent increase in revenues last year.  Philip Maung arrived inAmericawith just $13 in his pocket and a dream of making a new life. He pursued the emerging supermarket sushi industry and spent years learning every facet of the sushi business. In 1998, Philip and his wife Kristina pooled their finances to form Hissho Sushi and founded the company in the family dining room. The company began providing fresh sushi daily to supermarkets and cafes.  Today, Hissho Sushi is a dynamic foodservice and distribution company managing and operating more than 400 sushi bars across theU.S.Their 46,000 square foot, state-of-the-art headquarters are located inCharlotte,NC.

Gracey Ibarra

Gracey Ibarra, a mother of two children, is a 2009 high school graduate and has earned her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certification. Gracey enrolled in the WIA Youth Program through Inter-County Community Council, which combined education with clinical experience and led her to a career in the medical field. She currently works as a CNA in a nursing home. 

Joseph Kidd

Joseph Kidd, a 30 year old father, joined the U.S. Navy in 2003 and completedHospitalCorpsmanSchool.  Upon graduation, Kidd received his orders to Naval Hospital Okinawa, inJapan. Once his rotation was complete, he moved toCamp Lejeune,NC.  While atCampLejeune, Kidd was attached to a Marine Corps command, and deployed toIraqin 2007.  After he returned fromIraq, his daughter was born in January of 2009, and he was deployed again in May of 2009 as part of the 22D Marine Expeditionary Unit. Once Kidd returned, he was appointed to the Emergency Room atCampLejeuneand later became the Leading Petty Officer.  In April 2011, Kidd received his separation orders.  In August, Kidd was one of five veterans to eat lunch with President Obama inCannon Falls,MNduring the rural bus tour.  Kidd asked the President to help with credentialing programs that would allow a service member to take his or her skills from the military directly into the private sector.  The President’s staff is now actively working on the concept of a “career ready military.”  In late August, Kidd returned to school and studying pre-nursing.

John Raftery

John Raftery served in the U.S. Marine Corp with 1st Marine Division and currently serves as the president and CEO of Patriot Contractors, a construction firm, specializing in interior and exterior architectural specialties. A service-disabled, veteran-owned company founded in 2007, John has seen growth in revenues and employees each and every year of operation. Today, Patriot Contractors has 21 employees. In 2010, John’s company generated revenues that hit $2M, and he is on track to exceed $5M in 2011.  John is a 2007 graduate of the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans atSyracuseUniversity and holds a BBS fromDallasBaptistUniversity.  

Nicole Gentile

Nicole Gentile, married with two children, is a third grade teacher at Marion-Sterling Elementary in Cleveland, Ohio.  She is at risk of being laid off given the district’s budget situation.  Thirteen of her colleagues are also at risk of being laid off.   


Kelcie Fisher

Kelcie Fisher is currently a senior at Open High, a Blue Ribbon school located in downtown Richmond, Virginia. OpenHigh Schoolwill be 100 years old this year and needs to be modernized.  Born and raised in Richmond, Kelcie has been a part of the Richmond Public Schools family throughout her entire educational career.


Hector R. Sealey

Hector Sealey began working with Fort Myer Construction in August 2006 and continues as corporate director of safety, risk management and compliance officer for the corporation. Sealey has 18 years of safety and quality control management experience and 4 years of project management, with an overall of 30 years experience in the construction industry. Hector, along with almost a million workers, is at risk of losing his job if Congress does not act and the transportation bill expires. Hector joined President Obama in the Rose Garden when he called for a clean extension of the transportation bill last month. 


Kirk Bergstrom

Kirk Bergstrom, 43, is a project engineer with Denver Transit Partners (DTP), the consortium of investment, engineering, construction and operations and maintenance companies currently executing the $2 billion Eagle Public-Private Partnership inDenver,Colorado. The Eagle P3 Project is a new commuter railroad line that will connect Downtown Denver andDenverInternationalAirportand also downtown with a portion of westernDenver.  Before the Eagle P3 Project, Kirk was going to have to leave his family and travel back-and-forth toKansasto work on another construction project. DTP, thanks to this federally funded project, was able to give him a career close to his home.

David Catalano

In 2006 David Catalano co-founded Modea, a digital advertising agency inBlacksburg,VA.In five short years as president, Catalano and his executive team have grown the company 75-100% each year – eclipsing $10 million in annual revenue. Catalano has been able to maintain his home in ruralVirginiaand build a globally competitive company, highlighting the importance of the need to provide high speed broadband access to all parts of the country. Modea has hired over 80 creative professionals from across the country. In the late 90s Catalano came to Blacksburg, VA to pursue a degree at Virginia Tech. Halfway through his senior year, Catalano put his degree on hold to co-found a product marketing agency producing content for the largest e-commerce sites on the web. After leading it to profitability in 2005, Catalano left the company to finish his Finance degree and start Modea.

Dannie and Sabrina Mangrum

Dannie Mangrum is aMarylandcorrections officer and Sabrina is getting her teaching degree atCoppinState.  The couple has two sons and a daughter, and is earnestly anticipating the adoption of three foster children. A tax cut would benefit their family as they are looking for ways to provide for their children and their education.

Jessica Pickett

Technician Jessica T. Pickett joined Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department in April 2006 where she currently functions as a field Firefighter/Medic.  Technician Pickett is actively involved with the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2068 and serves as the Chairperson of the EMS Committee.  Technician Pickett was awarded the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce Certificate of Valor in 2010 for actions involving personal risk and demonstration of judgment beyond the expected performance of duties.  Prior to joining the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, Technician Pickett studied Biological Sciences at The George Washington University inWashington,DCand was a George C. Marshall Scholar and Rhodes Scholarship finalist.

Marlena Clark

Marlena Clark is a graduate of Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) and a resident ofMaryland.  After working a number of minimum wage jobs and worrying about her future, she decided that her local community college would provide the best opportunity for a career path to success. She worked two jobs, as a housekeeper and a bartender, while taking courses in the Information Systems Security program at Anne Arundel. While enrolled at community college, Marlena was involved in a mentoring program focused on retaining women in IT careers and was able to participate in an internship at a local IT company. She is now a full-time systems engineer at the company, supporting the sales team and customers with networking solutions. As part of her ongoing outreach on community colleges, Dr. Biden visitedAnneArundelCommunity Collegelast September to highlight the school’s workforce development programs.


Tamara Washington

Tamara Washington is a single mother, taking care of her 3 year old son Amir, inTorrance,CA.  Tamara believes her hard work will enable her to provide quality healthcare and education for her son. While it has not been easy, many programs and organizations were there to help, including subsidized employment in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund, which allowed her to obtain a job that enabled her to support her son.

Guests invited by House Speaker John Boehner to listen to the speech from the Speaker’s box in the House:  (as released by the Speaker’s office)

Spencer Weitman is the President of National Cement, which recently suspended construction of a new $350 million cement kiln in Ragland, AL due to regulatory obstacles.  The construction project would have created more than 1,500 construction jobs and 20 new full-time operational positions, but was determined too costly and unpredictable because of proposed changes to EPA Clean Air Act regulations. The obstacles encountered by National Cement are on the list of “Top 10 Job-Destroying Regulations” identified in Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) August 29 memo outlining the legislative agenda for the remainder of the year.

Rock Katschnig is a corn and soybean farmer of 32 years from Prophetstown, IL. Hurt by a stream of harmful federal regulations, Katschnig appealed to President Obama at an Atkinson, IL town hall last month, pleading, “Please don't challenge us with more rules and regulations from Washington D.C. that hinder us.” The president replied, “Don't always believe what you hear.” Despite President Obama’s statement, one proposed regulation on “particulate matter” (dust) would devastate Katschnig’s industry and destroy many farming jobs. The obstacles encountered by Mr. Katschnig are on the list of “Top 10 Job-Destroying Regulations” identified in Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) August 29 memo outlining the legislative agenda for the remainder of the year.

Eric Treiber is the CEO of Chicago White Metal Casting, a third-generation family-owned die casting company employing 250 workers in suburbanChicago. Jobs at White Metal Casting are being threatened by increased costs associated with excessive federal regulations, in particular Clean Air Act and utility MACT regulations. White Metal Casting has also been forced to dedicate multiple employees to the task of complying with existing federal regulations.

Lisa Ingram is the COO of White Castle, a 90-year old family-run company that serves signature “slider” hamburgers. Excessive federal regulations – current and proposed – have put a strain onWhiteCastle, contributing to a plant closure inNew Jersey and slowing the company’s ability to create new jobs.  The new health care law, for example, has not only jeopardized White Castle’s ability to provide health benefits to its employees, but one provision alone could increase costs so dramatically that it would destroy hundreds of jobs.

Jim Plante is CEO of Pathway Genomics, a 100-person San Diego-based biotech startup that developed a genetic testing product for consumers. Last year, Pathway partnered with a major drugstore chain to help market their product – a move that would have enabled Pathway to hire 100 additional workers. Despite being in compliance with all available FDA regulations, the FDA attacked Pathway in the media following the announcement of the partnership. The drugstore chain consequently backed out, and Pathway was unable to create those 100 new high-paying jobs.

Ignacio Urrabazo is president of Commerce Bank ofLaredo,Texas, a small community bank with $450 million in assets. Urrabazo would like to lend more money to local businesses to help create more jobs inLaredo, a border community with an unemployment rate nearly 10 percent higher than the state ofTexas as a whole. Unfortunately, current FDIC regulations have kept him from lending to qualified businesses. Urrabazo believes excessive federal regulations will soon put community banks out of business.

John “Jack” Earle is the Managing Partner of Earle Enterprises LP and is a multi-unit franchisee of McDonald’s restaurants in Southeastern Pennsylvania andSouthern New Jersey. Mr. Earle also serves as the Chairman of the International Franchise Association. Excessive regulations imposed by the health care law and Dodd-Frank, the ongoing threat of tax hikes, and regulatory overreach by agencies like NLRB, have hamstrung Earle and other franchisers with uncertainty and stifled their ability to create new jobs.

Glenn Rieger is a General Partner at NewSpring Capital, a private equity fund in suburbanPhiladelphia that provides capital for growth and expansion-stage businesses. A lead investor in more than 50 mid-Atlantic businesses of all sizes, NewSpring’s ability to support job creators is being hampered by excessive regulations from Sarbanes-Oxley, which is costing them millions of dollars annually.

Safi Bahcall is the CEO of Synta, a biopharmaceutical company focused on creating new drugs for treating cancer. Hampered by an increasingly uncompetitive American business environment, Bahcall is advocating for the research and development tax credit to be made permanent. More favorable tax incentives inFrance andCanada have encouraged Synta to out-source work toCanada and the company is currentlyweighing the potential of moving American jobs toFrance.

Kaleil Isaza Tuzman is the CEO of KIT Digital, a 1,200-employee publicly traded video technology company. KIT faces considerable costs as a result of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance regulations. A first generation American with Colombian heritage and fluent in Spanish, Isaza Tuzman was a U.S. special trade representative in Colombia and Mexico under the Clinton and Bush administrations, and is a strong proponent of passing the U.S. -Colombian Free Trade Agreement that the president has yet to submit to Congress.

Chris George is the CEO of CMG Finance, a mortgage company in theSan FranciscoBay area employing 370 people. Hurt by increased health care costs and higher taxes from the new health care law, CMG Finance says the uncertain business environment created by the Obama Administration is preventing them from hiring an additional 15 to 20 workers.

Henry Juszkiewicz is CEO of the Gibson Guitar Company. Armed federal agents have twice raided Gibson Guitar’s facilities. Why? UnelectedWashington bureaucrats won’t say. No charges have been filed and federal regulators have not explained to the company what may have been done wrong or how to rectify the situation. 

Gordon Logan is CEO of Sport Clips, a hair salon chain with over 800 stores. If not for the environment of uncertainty created by Washington,Logan estimates he would have opened 50-100 new stores over the past three years. Instead of hiring new workers, Sports Clips franchise owners are struggling with the new health care law’s burdensome costs and mandates, and considering canceling existing health coverage for current employees.Logan also struggles with access to capital, complicated by government-created uncertainty.

Topics: Congress • Economy • jobs • President Obama

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soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. California Conservative


    September 8, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  2. Howard

    Obama's organized bloggers are hired to flood the blogs with anti-Republican postings.

    Like ACORN ... All these dumbocratic TROLLS are bought and paid for.

    September 8, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Joe

      Hey Hey Ho Ho Barack Obama has to go!!!

      September 9, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  3. Don

    At least Obama is staying consistent with the company he keeps. Hey Trumka! I hope you enjoy the speech while your thugs are out on the march. Maybe Obama can talk about the Longshoremen that stormed the Port of Longview and held hostages while destroying property? well, he'll probably leave that info out. The Unions are showing they have real class while this President is watching from his ivory tower, and is pleased.

    September 8, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  4. Modea

    So honored to have our Co-founder represented tonight as a special guest to the sitting POTUS regardless of party affiliation.

    September 8, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  5. Howard

    And, if you pass it, you can find out what's in it ... sound familiar ???
    After all ... you suckers fell for it last time.

    AND, if you don't pass it now, you're against America ... last year, if you
    disagreed with me, you would have been Racist ... but this year, if you
    don't agree with me, you're against America !!!

    Let's throw this lying snake out of the White House, and get a President
    who doesn't play games with the American people.

    September 8, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • lisa2010

      why don't you run, you sound like a person all mouth and no action... SEE this presidential job opening fits you to a tee... hahahahahaha

      September 9, 2011 at 2:45 am |
  6. Rick McDaniel

    Obama's jobs guy........Immelt.......who sent all of his manufacturing to China.

    Anyone notice the dishonesty of Obama, on JOBS?

    September 9, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • Joe

      Shucking and Jiving Obama
      the man is a snake oil saleman
      looking to get reelected
      and all you liberals suck it up

      September 9, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  7. Dean

    It saddens me that a person with Obama's character can hold the office of President.

    September 9, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Joe

      Garbage in the white house produces garbage out
      Obama is the king of Bullshit !!!!
      He makes Jimmy the asshole carter look good

      September 9, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  8. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Saddens you? He's of a strong, genuine character of intellect, courage, knowledge, wisdom, empathy, sympathy and real love for this country! HE IS HATED FOR IT TOO! To even put himself through this 'meat butchering' of a racist, beauracratic 'political' circus, and still keep trying to fly above the fray, shows bravery and untold, undescribable character! The President is a good and decent, respectful, husband, father, man, citizen and President. Saddened? If you were honest, you'd be HAPPY! My Goodness!!

    September 9, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • Joe

      He's a Snake Oil Salesman
      and it looks like your addited to his bullshit

      September 9, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  9. Liz Carter in Georgia

    You're just a biggoted, foul-mouthed sick soul, Joe. You must be addicted to something or the other! LOL! We know it's not OBAMA, and THAT PROVES IT! 'Drugs Don't Work', Joe! You can't see through the smoke and misty mirrors!

    September 10, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
  10. FedUP

    Ken Chenault – not only outsources jobs to India by the millions but most American Express Campsus in the US are 80% Indian, he imports Indians to take American Jobs in the US.....lays off the skilled Americans who train them!!! WHAT A JOKE....Is that new plan create more American Jobs to fill with workers from other countries to show numbers on US jobs filled????????? Can not believe how stupid they think Americans really are.....its not about Parties anymore....same things have been happening under both Political Parties, after NAFTA and other agreements.....Something needs to be done.

    September 11, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  11. Search Engine Marketing Philippines

    "A man's dreams are an index to his greatness." ~ Zadok Rabinowitz

    September 13, 2011 at 4:48 am |