Thursday, President Barack Obama announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to key Administration posts: Jason Collins – Member, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition; Misty Copeland – Member, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition; Alonzo H. Mourning, Jr. – Member, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition; Rachael Ray – Member, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition; Robert Thomas Shepardson – Member, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition; and Michèle Taylor – Member, United States Holocaust Memorial Council.
Obama said, “I am grateful that these impressive individuals have chosen to dedicate their talents to serving the American people at this important time for our country. I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”
Here’s some background on Obama’s selections:
Jason Collins is a professional basketball player with the Brooklyn Nets, where he has played since 2014. Previously, he played for the Washington Wizards, the Boston Celtics, the Atlanta Hawks, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Memphis Grizzlies, and the New Jersey Nets. He joined the National Basketball Association in 2001 after playing for Stanford University, where he was a National Association of Basketball Coaches third team All-American and a member of the All-PAC-10 first team. Collins is a partner with the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Collins received a B.A. from Stanford University.
Misty Copeland is the first African American female soloist in more than two decades at American Ballet Theatre (ABT), a company she joined in 2000. She actively supports the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BCGA) and is its Youth of the Year Ambassador. In 2012 she was inducted into the BCGA Alumni Hall of Fame. She recently helped launch ABT’s Project Plié, a national diversity initiative in ballet. Copeland received the Council of Urban Professionals’ inaugural Breakthrough Award in 2012 and was the Black Girls Rock! Young, Gifted & Black honoree in 2013. In 2008, she received the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Arts. Copeland studied at the Lauridsen Ballet Center, the San Francisco Ballet School, and American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive Program.
Alonzo H. Mourning, Jr. is Vice President, Player Programs for the Miami Heat Basketball Organization, a position he has held since 2009. Mourning played with the Miami Heat from 1995 to 2002 and from 2005 to 2008 and was a member of the Heat team that won the 2006 National Basketball Association (NBA) Championship. Previously, he played for the New Jersey Nets and the Charlotte Hornets. Mourning is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2014. He is a seven-time All-Star, a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and was named to the All-NBA First Team in 1999. In 2009, he became the first Miami Heat player to have his number retired. He is a founder of a number of charitable organizations, including the Mourning Family Foundation, Athletes for Hope, Zo’s Fund for Life, and the Overtown Youth Center. Mourning received a B.A. from Georgetown University.
Rachael Ray is the host of a syndicated daytime television show, The Rachael Ray Show. Additionally, she is the founder of the lifestyle magazine Every Day with Rachael Ray and has created her own brands of cookware, cutlery, kitchen tools, and signature food ingredients. In 2008, she created a line of pet food called Nutrish, from which she donates her proceeds to help support animals in need. In 2007, Ray launched Yum-o!, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering kids and their families to develop healthier relationships with food and cooking. Ray’s television show has received three Emmy Awards.
Robert Thomas Shepardson is a Partner with SS+K, a firm he co-founded in 1993. He has worked for over 25 years in public affairs, advertising, and marketing. At SS+K, his portfolio has included work for the Obama for America campaigns in 2008 and 2012 as well as for First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! and Joining Forces initiatives. Previously, he was a managing director at the Sawyer Miller Group from 1988 to 1993. Shepardson is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and several business and charitable boards, including the New York advisory board of Enterprise Community Partners and the advisory board of the Center for Health Communication at Harvard University’s School of Public Health. Shepardson received a B.A. from Franklin and Marshall College and an M.P.P. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Michèle Taylor has served since 2004 as a member of the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Outward Bound School, where she is also Chair of the Governance Committee and immediate past Secretary. She also volunteers as a Lead Instructor and Course Director for the school. Taylor is a member of the Southeast Regional Board of Directors of the Anti-Defamation League and a member of Atlanta’s Midtown Improvement District Board of Directors. She is also a member of the American Jewish Committee’s Atlanta Black-Jewish Coalition. She is an advisor to Atlanta’s Mayor, Kasim Reed, and served as Co-Chair of his 2013 re-election campaign. Previously, she served on the board of Congregation Or Hadash, the Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault, and Ahavath Achim Synagogue. Taylor received a B.A. from Mills College and an M.A. from Boston University.