Meeting with Martin Nesbit, Chairman of the Obama Foundation

The event was part of “At The Intersection of City Building, Economic Opportunity and Diversity”,  ‘Chicago,  CEO & Diversity Leadership Series’.


Anna Dutra, President and CEO of The Executives Club of Chicago, welcomed over 300 businesses, and community leaders who attended the event.

Anna Dutra, President and CEO of The Executives Club of Chicago

The Fireside Chat with Martin Nesbitt was moderated by Shari I. Runner, President and CEO of the Chicago Urban League.

The idea for the Presidential Library is not only to build Library to collect all the documents of the 44th President of the United States but to bring community together, to add value to the community and to use the most creative ideas.

“Chicago is a great city” in Nesbit opinion and it is the hometown for President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, the First Lady.  Chicago has incredible potential for future developments.  ‘Civic engagement’  is very strong.

Nesbit’ idea is to create a forum to engage citizens in a variety of pressing societal issues, including climate change, gun violence, health care and education. Technology will play an essential part in the future Library.  

 “People Have Power to Create Solutions”, believes Nesbitt. He and his staff are looking for ideas and experts not only in Chicago but across the country. They collaborate with individuals and institutions in Washington, D.C., New York, Sillicon Valley, California, in Boston and in other places. 

The challenge for the Presidential Foundation is to find out how to ‘bring thousands of pieces together’ to build a Library that will last and be attractive for the future generations. The project will include an archival library, museum and foundation.

The Presidential Library will be built in Jackson Park, in the South side of Chicago, during the next few years. The estimated cost is about $500 million. The estimated date for its opening is 2021.  The idea behind it is to have this as a very dynamic center for the City and for the Nation.  It should made the community stronger, not different. ‘We hope a rising tide lifts all the ships,’ said Nesbit.

‘President Obama is one of the most recognized people in the world’ , says Nesbitt. „If we can make Chicago the center of the world for that idea,” he said, „that’s powerful.”
There are 13 presidential libraries in the United States. Many presidential libraries are opened with great public enthusiasm during the beginning of their activities and they see traffic slow as the influence of individual presidents becomes smaller in public memory.
The vision for the President Obama Library is to build on his involvement as the community organizer that led to his service on state level as the Illinois Senator, on federal level as the federal Senator and ultimately to be the United States President for two terms. The idea of constant community engagement can motivate people to come, visit the place and engage people for future generations. 

Nesbit described this vision of the Presidential Library’ as vibrant, dynamic.
Ultimately, President Obama and the First Lady will define the direction for their Presidential Library.

Author- Andrew (Andrzej) Mikolajczyk with Martin Nesbit, Chairman of the Obama Foundation.

I was excited to be able to give Mr. Nesbit a copy of my paper that we wrote with my daughter Anita in 2014 when we strongly advocated for the Presidential Library to be located in the South side of Chicago, that will be strongly connected with an academic institution like the University of Chicago, that will provide opportunities for community development and for Chicago  students to learn about Presidency of Barack Obama.
It can be also an additional attraction for tourists from all over the country and from all over the world that come to Chicago. Our arguments have been strong and accurate.
During the luncheon there was a representative from Access Living, the organization that advocates for disabled people and their access to the future Presidential Library.

The business leaders positively reacted to Mr. Nesbit comments and remarks during the Executives Club of Chicago meeting.  It is another positive sign that business and community leaders in Chicago will provide strong support for the Presidential Library.

@ Andrew (Andrzej) Mikolajczyk
@ Photo Courtesy: Kimia Emami Photography

I recommend the following articles for your consideration:
* Obama Foundation chief promises inclusive bidding in library development 

Where should the Obama Presidential Library be located?