When the White House sends out a press release on key administration posts, you don't expect to see names that most -- ok, any -- Americans would recognize. But not today!
President Obama announced the appointment of five people to his Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition -- which first lady Michelle Obama helped launch in 2010.
One of her biggest priorities during her time as first lady has been encouraging young people to eat healthy and exercise -- and the White House wisely realized that getting famous people to help is one of the best ways to appeal to kids.
They've signed up Will Ferrell to help with "Let's Move!"
Beyoncé has pitched in too.
Now you can add basketball players Jason Collins and Alonzo Mourning, celebrity chef Rachael Ray and ballet dancer Misty Copeland to the list. Rob Shepardson, who has previously done public affairs work for Obama for America, Let's Move!, Mark Zuckerberg's advocacy group FWD.us, Sandy Hook Promise, the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, joins the other four as new appointees to the President's Council. His firm, SS+K says it helps "lead brands through change."
Unfortunately, Obama did not appoint anyone to the President's Council on Beards.
Jason Collins, the Brooklyn Nets center who is most famous for being the first openly gay NBA player, was featured in Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People list, published Thursday. Chelsea Clinton wrote about him. President Obama called Collins after he came out in Sports Illustrated, saying, "he was impressed by his courage." He sat with Michelle Obama during the 2014 State of the Union.
Former Miami Heat basketball player Alonzo Mourning also has a previous connection to the Obamas. In early February, the president attended a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser at Mourning's home in Miami. Mourning also helped promote the Affordable Care Act's health-care exchanges. They also golf together.
Copeland is the the second African American to ever be a female soloist at the American Ballet Theatre. She is involved in many youth organizations that focus on fitness already: She is the Youth of the Year Ambassador for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and helped launch a diversity initiative with the American Ballet Institute called Project Plié. She has danced on stage with Prince. She has written about the difficulties of breaking into ballet as an African American woman in her recently published memoir, "Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina."
Ballet has long been the province of the white and wealthy. Our daily toe-crushing exercises make pointe shoes as disposable as tissues, but they can cost as much as $80 a pair. I came from a San Pedro, California, family that didn't always have enough food to eat, let alone money to spend on a hobby, and it wasn't until I was 13 years old that I could even take my first ballet class. Most of my dance peers had grown up immersed in the arts, putting on their first tutus not long after they learned to talk. They had summered in Europe, while I didn't get my first passport until I was 17. Their families had weekend homes. I had spent part of my adolescence living on the floor of a shabby motel with my single mom.
But I also stood out in another, even more profound, way. I was a little brown-skinned girl in a sea of whiteness.
Rachael Ray is well known for her television shows and celebrity chef empire. Like most things related to low-stakes television, Rachael Ray inspires passionate responses, both positive and negative, from many people -- mostly for saying things like "Yum-o" and "sammie." Yum-o is also the name of her nonprofit group, which focuses on providing healthy school meals.
She's worked with the Obamas before too. Michelle Obama has been on her daytime television show. Vice President Biden also went on her show, where they discussed Obamacare and his Clinique moisturizer. She also helped promote Obamacare on Twitter last fall.
Two of the most popular recipes on Rachael Ray's Web site right now are her quick-and-easy French Toast casserole and easy homemade gravy, which seem to be the types of things a President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition would banish.
She should probably stick to other top five recipe, broccoli.
And before you ask: No, we do not know what the non-appointment of fellow politically-active celebrity chef Sandra Lee -- who is dating New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) -- means for 2016.