June 4, 2021

President Barack Obama

44th President / The United States of America

Former President Barack Obama addressed The Economic Club of Chicago on Friday, June 4, in front of a live virtual audience. In a wide-ranging discussion with Club Chair Debra A. Cafaro, he discussed the importance of the Obama Presidential Center in Hyde Park, and give his perspective on the opportunities and challenges facing Chicago, the U.S. and the world.

I think that so often, the image of Chicago is being dictated by some of the bad news, rather than all that greatness.

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President Obama on how anchoring the Obama Presidential Center on the South Side will help Chicago’s image.


Barack Obama

44th President / The United States of America

Barack H. Obama was the 44th President of the United States. President Obama’s years of public service are based around his unwavering belief in the ability to unite people around a politics of purpose. In the Illinois State Senate, he passed the first major ethics reform in 25 years, cut taxes for working families, and expanded health care for children and their parents. As a United States Senator, he reached across the aisle to pass groundbreaking lobbying reform, lock up the world’s most dangerous weapons, and bring transparency to government by putting federal spending online. He was elected the 44th President of the United States on November 4, 2008, and sworn in on January 20, 2009. After being re-elected in 2012, President Obama served his second and final term, which ended in January 2017. President Obama and his wife, Michelle, are the proud parents of two daughters, Malia and Sasha.


Debra A. Cafaro

Chairman & CEO / Ventas Inc.

Debra A. Cafaro has been Venta’s Inc., Chief Executive Officer and a director since 1999 and Chairman of its Board of Directors since 2003. She also served as our President from 1999 to November 2010. In addition to her work at Ventas, Cafaro is broadly engaged across the business, public policy, arts, academic, sports and non-profit sectors. She serves on the Board of Directors of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., a bank holding company and financial services corporation (NYSE: PNC). Additionally, Cafaro is the Chair of the Real Estate Roundtable, a public policy organization that brings together leaders of the nation’s top real estate firms to address key national policy issues relating to real estate; the Ex-Officio of the Executive Committee and a Member of the Board of Directors of The Economic Club of Chicago, whose mission is to foster meaningful connections among the city’s leaders on important economic and social issues; a member of the Business Council, a private association of chief executive officers; serves on the Boards of Trustees for the University of Chicago and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; and was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to successive terms on the Board of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust (2015 to 2019). Prior to joining Ventas, Cafaro was President and a director of an NYSE-listed multi-family REIT, a practicing lawyer for 13 years and a judicial clerk for the Hon. J. Dickson Phillips, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Cafaro earned her B.A. magna cum laude from the University of Notre Dame and her J.D. cum laude from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was named its 2011 Distinguished Alumna.