Presidents’ Day Holds Special Meaning for Florida Resident

February 18, 2015

in Community News

When Barack Obama took the oath of office as the first African American president of the United States in 2009, Esther Vassar knew her life would be different from that point on. As an African American woman involved in volunteer efforts that, among other things, help the United Negro College Fund, Vassar was certain she would never forget the moment.

“To go from attending segregated public schools from grades 1-12 in Tennessee to actually attending the inauguration of the first African American president, where I was hugged by complete strangers, was unreal,” she says.

Meeting privately with Mr. Obama and serving as a presidential appointee during his first term only made her years of work on behalf of volunteers and small businesses that much more rewarding.

“My philosophy has always been ‘show people a reason for what you’re working for’ and you can make great progress,” she says. “I had the opportunity to do that while working with federal regulators to lessen the burden of regulation on small businesses.”

Esther’s appointment came after quite a career in Washington, Virginia, and North Carolina. In addition to owning two small businesses, she also served in leadership roles for three Virginia governors, and was Commissioner and Chair of the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

The president and Esther also share a common hero – Oliver Hill, the famed civil rights attorney who helped end the doctrine of “separate but equal” that was long prevalent in the segregated South.

These days, Esther stays active as one of the many senior living residents at Village on the Green in Longwood, Florida. She speaks highly of the community she calls home, and remains a passionate advocate for the issues she cares about.

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