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

By Anne E. Kornblut
Washington Post staff writer
Thursday, January 28, 2010; A07

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.

-- Gabriela Farfan of Madison, Wis., a 19-year-old geology major.

-- Anita Maltbia of Kansas City, Mo., who runs an urban environmental program that echoes Obama's vision of national urban policy.

-- Retired Army Spec. Scott Vycital of Fort Collins, Colo., who was partially paralyzed in Iraq and now works for the Federal Highway Administration after Obama signed an executive order making employing veterans a priority.

-- Ping Fu of Chapel Hill, N.C., a small-business owner who participates in a Small Business Administration research program.

-- Julia Frost of Jacksonville, N.C., a former Marine trumpeter studying to become a teacher at Coastal Carolina Community College with the help of the GI Bill.

-- Janell Kellett of Sun Prairie, Wis., a member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard and the Wisconsin Guard's volunteer of the year for 2009.

-- Jeffrey Brown of Philadelphia, the chief executive of the ShopRite supermarket chain.

-- Trevor Yager of Indianapolis, a small-business owner who supports the Recovery Act.

-- Juan Yepez of Lawrence, Mass., a small-business owner and Ecuador native who employs first-generation Americans in his electronics company.

-- Deborah Powell of Hugo, Okla., a Native American development specialist for the Housing Authority of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

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