Former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama and American Institute of Architects Executive Vice President Robert A. Ivy and President Thomas Vonier welcomed a large crowd in the ballroom of the Orange County Convention Center at the AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando, Florida, on Thursday.
The former first lady was a keynote speaker, with her keynote taking place on the first day of the three-day conference, making the AIA Conference her first post-White House public appearance. Other keynotes on the first day of the conference included architects Alejandro Aravena, Diébédo Francis Kéré and Elizabeth Diller.
During Michelle Obama tenure as First Lady, she launched several initiatives that include, but not limited to, ending childhood obesity, promoting higher education, and education for adolescent girls around the world.
Mrs. Obama also worked for the city of Chicago as an assistant to the Mayor, as well as, Assistant Commissioner of Planning and Development. Graduating cum laude from Princeton in 1985 and receiving a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1988, her primary focus has always been the betterment of the communities she serves.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama discussed life after leaving the White House, race and gender equality in architecture, her hesitancy to run for a politic position, the need for architects to consider taking on projects in lower income neighborhoods, mentoring, and the presidential library. Architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien were selected to design the presidential library back in June.
Enjoying her new-found freedom as a civilian, the former first lady reminded the audience that she doesn’t have to be a first lady to be influential. Mrs. Obama believes that she can be just as productive away from the political baggage and spotlight and will not be seeking a political position. The AIA Conference on Architecture runs from 27 to 29 April 2017 in Orlando, Florida.