Yesterday, VFA Founder Andrew Yang visited the White House to meet President Barack Obama as one of twelve “Champions of Change” alumni who were invited to celebrate the one year anniversary of the program and share the work they are doing around the country. Photos to come!
On the way home, Andrew reflected on his experience meeting President Obama and wrote the following message:
“I’m on a train home and wanted to share my visit to the White House.
I was invited to meet the President as a past Champion of Change who had made progress since the award last year. So to everyone who’s supported Venture for America this past year, “Thank You for making this visit possible!”
It was a pretty amazing experience. I was seated next to President Obama (!!!) for 45 minutes. I told him about Venture for America – our goals and mission, what we do, the cities we’re launching in this year, and our plans for expansion. He asked a number of questions (“How did people find out about the program on campus” and “Do the participants get any support or program throughout the 2 years”) At the end, he suggested that I connect with Startup America; I told him that I have a call with Steve Case next week. I’m confident that the President now knows about Venture for America and likes it.
Afterwards, I was interviewed for a video for the White House public engagement team.
Overall, it went phenomenally well. It’s quite a trip having the President sit within inches of you. A senior White House official invited us to bring our first class of Fellows to the White House at some point – we’ll have to see about that.
Because you’ve seen the President so many times, he seems very familiar. And the impression he gives is exactly like the one you get on TV. He was very warm and friendly toward the group, and made a number of jokes to loosen everyone up. You got the sense that he was working to make those around him more at ease.
I shook his hand twice: when he first arrived and at the close of the event. He’s got a big, firm handshake. I remember thinking that his large hands must help his basketball game.
It was one of the most memorable days of my life. I know that any recognition Venture for America receives is due to the hard work and support of Eileen Lee, Mike Tarullo, Bernie Sucher, Charlie Kroll, Darren MacDonald, Cameron Breitner, Sy Jacobs, and so many other people who have gone above and beyond to make our organization a reality. And most of all it’s a testament to our first class of Fellows, without whom Venture for America would remain just an idea. Thank you all for making today happen. Here’s to even brighter days to come (though this one will be tough to beat)!”