College of Law graduate Michael Strautmanis '94 was recently profiled on the Illinois Storied website. He spoke about his experience growing up in Chicago, his time at the University of Illinois, and the path that led him to working for President Obama during his tenure in the White House and now, as chief of civic engagement for the Obama Foundation.
(Excerpted from the article)
"...His warm and laid-back manner is coupled with a dogged optimism. It is clear that while the community organizers with whom he works are facing tough problems with deep roots, he has an unrelenting faith in their strength and ability to bring about change. These men and women inspire and motivate him, and he wants the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) to be a resource for them, one that will shore up their efforts and strengthen their networks."
"As he talks about how the OPC will partner with the community, the energy that fills the room isn’t watered down, even though I know he’s talked about these plans countless times. Michael stands in front of the architectural model of the OPC campus, which nearly Takes over the entire conference table. He points out the tall, angled building that serves as a centerpiece for the park. It will house the presidential museum, as well as public gathering spaces. The campus will also include children’s parks and a branch of the Chicago Public Library, as well as a teaching garden, basketball courts, and restaurants. While entrance to the museum will require a fee, the rest of the 19.3-acre campus will be free and open to use for visitors as well as the surrounding community.
"Michael has had an impressive career for a man not yet fifty years old. Many doors would open for him based on his experience—and the recommendation from a pretty powerful boss. Yet, Michael’s choice was to go back to his roots and stand with the men and women who shovel snow from the elderly’s front stoop, pack lunches for the hungry, and protect the vulnerable. He wants to support those working to improve their communities and hopes to inspire the next generation of civic leaders.
"This is where he wants to be."
Read the full profile.