In the first lady's box at the Capitol

The people sitting with Michelle Obama for State of the Union address

President Barack Obama delivers his first State of the Union Address.
By Anne E. Kornblut
Washington Post staff writer
Thursday, January 28, 2010

In keeping with Washington ritual, nearly two dozen guests were invited to fill the first lady's box during the State of the Union address Wednesday night -- many of them as representatives of the president's agenda, and several from important swing states.

The White House announced 23 guests, including three from the Washington area: Clayton Armstrong, a native of the District who was captain of the football team at Ballou Senior High School; Janell Holloway, a graduate of the District's Benjamin Banneker Academic High School who is now at Harvard University; and Rebecca Knerr of Chantilly, whose husband, Captain II Joseph Knerr, is in Haiti as the leader of Fairfax County's Virginia Task Force 1 search and rescue team.

Among the others:

-- Kimberly Munley and Mark Todd, the two police officers credited with stopping the deadly shootings at Fort Hood, Tex., in November.

-- Chris Lardner of Albuquerque, who wrote President Obama about her family's financial crisis after suffering a severe interest-rate increase on her credit card.

-- Mick Cornett, the Republican mayor of Oklahoma City.

-- Don Karner of Phoenix, whose electric transportation engineering company received $99 million from the economic stimulus package, which helped him create at least 50 permanent clean-energy jobs and save others.

-- Cindy Parker-Martinez of Belle Isle, Fla., whose family was denied health insurance because of preexisting conditions.

-- Li Boynton of Bellaire, Tex., an 18-year-old who won the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair award in 2009 for developing a new way to test the quality of drinking water.

-- Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Rubin of Savannah, Ga., who has served a combined six combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

-- Raymond Joseph, the Haitian ambassador to the United States.

-- Tina Dixon of Allentown, Pa., a former stay-at-home mom whom Obama met when he visited a jobs training site that received funding from the economic stimulus package.

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