This year's Smart Party will feature a conversation between Valerie B. Jarrett and Melanie R. Bridgeforth, President & CEO of The Women's Fund of Greater Birmingham, about the influence and power of women and the critical role women's political and civic participation plays in building an equitable society.
Valerie B. Jarrett is a Senior Distinguished Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School and a senior advisor to the Obama Foundation and Attn. She serves as Board Chair of When We All Vote and Co-Chair of The United State of Women. She also serves on the boards of Lyft, Ariel Investments, 2U, the Innocence Project, Time’s Up, the Economic Club of Chicago and the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. Her New York Times bestselling memoir, Finding My Voice, was published in 2019 and updated in paperback in 2020.
Ms. Jarrett was the longest-serving Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama. She oversaw the Offices of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs and Chaired the White House Council on Women and Girls. Ms. Jarrett worked throughout her tenure at the White House to mobilize elected officials, business and community leaders, and diverse groups of advocates. She led the Obama Administration’s efforts to expand and strengthen access to the middle class, and boost American businesses and our economy. She championed the creation of equality and opportunity for all Americans, and economically and politically empowering women in the United States and around the world. She oversaw the Administration’s advocacy for workplace policies that empower working families, including equal pay, raising the minimum wage, paid leave, paid sick days, workplace flexibility, affordable childcare, and a culture free from sexual harassment. She led the campaigns to reform our criminal justice system, end sexual assault, and reduce gun violence.
Ms. Jarrett has a background in both the public and private sectors. She served as the Chief Executive Officer of The Habitat Company in Chicago, Chairman of the Chicago Transit Board, Commissioner of Planning and Development, and Deputy Chief of Staff for Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. She also served as the director of numerous corporate and not-for-profit boards including Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Stock Exchange, Chairman of the University of Chicago Medical Center Board of Trustees, and Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Jarrett practiced law for ten years in both the private and public sectors, and has also received numerous awards and honorary degrees, including TIME’s “100 Most Influential People” as well as the Abner J. Mikva Legal Legends Award.
Jarrett received her B.A. from Stanford University in 1978 and her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1981.
Jamie Golden has been cohosting The Popcast with Knox McCoy since August 2013. It is a nationally ranked, weekly pop culture podcast that’s part deep dive, mostly shallow end. Jamie and Knox also launched The Bible Binge in February of 2018. Both of her podcasts are consistently in the top 3% of all podcasts with more than 16 million downloads combined. She makes her home in Birmingham, Alabama where she advocates for foster and adopted children serving as a volunteer for Heart Gallery Alabama. Jamie also helps people tell their own stories better by serving with Arc Stories, a local nonprofit.