Interview with Partnership For A Healthier America (Continued)


Working with Washington

Kelly: Mrs. Obama has very ambitious goals, and of course, she's so deeply admired by everyone — possibly more than anyone in any generation I've personally seen, and certainly on the level of a First Lady like Eleanor Roosevelt, for example. It would be fascinating to hear a bit more about working with her and her involvement in the campaign.

Larry: I hadn't met her until I started. I think the commitment and passion that you see in her public remarks is real, and she will push and fight and do, I think, anything to try to achieve these goals. So I found her to be as inspiring as you've seen her. I feel the same way, and I think it also trickles down to her staff that we work with even more frequently who are really devoted to this issue. Her involvement, though, is a driving force. She's incredibly passionate about this issue and, while I won't speak for her, I think it shows how personal this issue is for her and her family. You saw this again earlier this June when Jim [Gavin] stood with her to announce the Bright Horizons commitment. When it comes to the fight against childhood obesity, she's as much General Patton as she is Eleanor Roosevelt, and it's that drive that makes this hard fight that much more winnable.

Kelly: Can you talk more about the bipartisan nature of the organization? We have heard some concerns about the organization's ties with the current administration.

Larry: I am hopeful that the organization will exist as long as we are providing value in this space. I'm pretty convinced of that. We have the good fortune of having the First Lady of the United States as our honorary chair, and of having the creation of our organization announced in the White House. That's something that not everyone gets. So that's a great start for us.

What we are trying to do right now is get as much as we can possibly get accomplished to get the ball rolling, to get the brand built, and to utilize all these great resources that we have, including the First Lady. But I'm recruiting highly talented people who are leaving good jobs to come here, because I think we all see that there's so much opportunity, and no matter what happens in the next election, whether it's two years or six years when there will be a change in the administration, this will continue. We are purposefully an independent organization, founded by nonpartisan foundations. We have the former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist as our honorary vice chair, and I also think that when the Obamas are no longer in the White House, we will probably be able to utilize Mrs. Obama in different ways, because we know that her commitment to this issue isn't going away.

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Last Modified Date: April 23, 2013

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