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The Futures Series

The Obama Foundation Futures Series exposes high school students to a variety of career pathways through intimate conversations with accomplished leaders about their experiences.

Craig Robinson, a Black man with a deep skin tone and no hair, sits next to a teen boy with a deep skin tone facing a crowd of people. The boy wears glasses and is dressed in chino pants and a gray zip up jacket. The man is wearing a blazer, blue jeans and a red sweater. Behind them is a light teal, partially obscured sign that reads, " " and "Futures Series."

When Mrs. Obama sat down with young people from Hyde Park Academy—the high school located right across the street from the site of the Obama Presidential Center—to talk about their career aspirations and what they need to succeed, it sparked the idea for the Future Series.

This ongoing collaboration with Hyde Park Academy brings speakers from all types of fields to share their career journeys with the students. The program speaks to our commitment to inspire, empower, and connect people to change their world. And it’s initiatives like this that will be the core of our work at the future Presidential Center.

Highlights from the Futures Series featuring Michelle Obama and other leaders


Students have had the chance to meet professionals in a range of industries, from finance and entrepreneurship, to sports and journalism, and of course, public service.

These speakers include:

  • President Barack Obama

  • Former First Lady Michelle Obama

  • CEO of the Obama Foundation Valerie Jarrett

  • Ariel Investments Founder John Rogers and his mentee Myles Gage, Founder of Rapunzl

  • Former president of the Seattle King County Branch of the NAACP Professor Carl Mack

  • Elle Ramel, Director of GET (Gender Equality in Tech) Chicago

  • The Gray Matter Experience Founder Britney Robbins

  • Skill Scout Media CEO & Co-Founder Elena Valentine

  • Brand Strategist & Project Manager at Gumbo Media Sierra Council

  • Executive Director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches and Mrs. Obama’s brother Craig Robinson

  • ABC News President Kim Godwin

  • City Colleges of Chicago Chancellor Juan Salgado

  • Founder of Dion’s Chicago Dream Dion Dawson 

  • Co-CEO of the Vistria Group and Obama Foundation Board Member Marty Nesbitt

  • Luella’s Southern Kitchen Owner and Chef Darnell Reed

An illustration of four people with a range of light to deep skin tones lifting one another up on top of a paper plane. The background is pink.

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