Obama Foundation adds Chicago native Deval Patrick to board

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Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a native of Chicago’s South Side, has been appointed to the Obama Presidential Foundation board. | AP Images

WASHINGTON — The Obama Presidential Foundation announced Tuesday a new board member, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a native of Chicago’s South Side.

Patrick was picked by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to serve as a senior adviser to the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force, created in the wake of the furor over a white police officer’s October 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald as the 17-year-old was walking away from Officer Jason Van Dyke.

In a statement, Patrick said, Obama “will be remembered as a president who led us well through turbulent times with wisdom, equanimity and grace. I am honored to be part of the foundation that will continue that legacy. And as a former South Sider, I am thrilled to participate in the development of a foundation and presidential center in my old neighborhood.”

Patrick was a co-chair of Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and they shared in common David Axelrod as their top political strategist. Patrick was the first African-American Massachusetts governor, elected twice starting in 2006.

Here’s an excerpt from a 2011 column I wrote about Patrick:

While Obama moved to Chicago after college, Patrick is a real South Sider in the sense that his roots are here, growing up in poverty far more dramatic than any Obama experienced. Patrick was born July 31, 1956, in an apartment on 79th and Calumet, swaddled and placed in a turkey pan and placed in an oven — the door left open — to keep him warm, he told me. His mother, Emily, was forced to move in with her parents in a flat at 54th and Wabash after his father, known as Pat, a sax player, left the family for New York when Patrick was 5. Patrick’s grandfather was a janitor at the old South Shore Bank, at 71st and Jeffrey. Growing up on the South Side, I had no concept of the North Side, Patrick told me. In the ’50s and the ’60s, the South Side was for us. In our family, we went downtown once a year usually before the start of the school year mostly to do clothes shopping at the State Street Sears and for the occasional movie. He worshiped at the Cosmopolitan Community Church at 53rd and Wabash. He attended the Mary C. Terrell School at the Robert Taylor Homes through sixth grade, then the DuSable Upper Grade Center where he was hassled by gang members outside of school. At DuSable UGC, a teacher, Darla Weissenberg, saw his promise and told him about a program — called A Better Chance — that could show him another world. He wound up at an exclusive prep school, Milton Academy outside of Boston, and on a path leading to Harvard, Harvard Law, away from the South Side of Chicago.

Patrick, also a managing director of Bain Capital, joins current members Martin Nesbitt, J. Kevin Poorman, David Plouffe, Maya Soetoro-Ng, John Doerr, Thelma Golden, Julianna Smoot, John Rogers, Michael Sacks and Robert Wolf who serve as volunteer members of the board. Nesbitt is the board chairman.

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