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Martha Reeves to Perform a Tribute to First Lady Betty Ford

Martha Reeves to Perform a Tribute to First Lady Betty Ford

Each year, to honor and celebrate the legacy of first lady Betty Ford, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation hosts the America's First Ladies Luncheon Series. This year's presentation, "Inside the White House: Behind the Scenes of the First Lady's Office," will feature Anita McBride, former chief of staff to first lady Laura Bush; Tina Tchen, former chief of staff to first lady Michelle Obama; and Chef Roland Mesnier, former White House pastry chef.

The discussion, taking place on Thursday, May 30, at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park (located at 1000 E. Beltline Ave. NE in Grand Rapids, Mich.,) will be moderated by White House Historical Association President Stewart D. McLaurin. In addition to the behind the scenes discussion, Motown singer Martha Reeves will perform a special tribute to Ford.

"Our family is privileged to have Anita McBride, Tina Tchen, and Chef Mesnier together as they share their first-hand perspectives on how each first lady puts their mark on American history. We are also humbled to have Martha Reeves perform a special tribute in our mother's honor," said Mike Ford, son of President and first lady Ford. "Celebrating mom's legacy through the America's First Ladies Luncheon Series brings a feeling of pride to the hearts of the Ford family. It's our privilege to be able to share her legacy with the community through this annual event."

McBride currently serves as executive-in-residence at the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies in the School of Public Affairs at American University and is a board member for the White House Historical Association. Before serving as chief of staff to Bush, McBride served as White House personnel director for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, special assistant to the president for management and administration, and as an assistant to President George W. Bush.

Before serving as Obama's chief of staff, Tchen was a partner in corporate litigation at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. While at the White House, she also served as director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, and executive director for the Council on Women and Girls, which was created by President Barack Obama to ensure that all parts of the federal government addressed the needs of women and girls. Tchen, who also serves on the Board of the White House Historical Association, is currently a partner, attorney, and Chicago office leader for Buckley LLP.

Mesnier began his career as a pastry apprentice in France and was hired by first lady Rosalynn Carter as head pastry chef at the White House. During his 25 years at the White House, he created desserts for more than 40 queens, kings, princes, princesses, and heads of state. He became known for his famous series of gingerbread houses displayed in the state dining room each Christmas holiday season. Mesnier continues to educate expert and novice bakers about his craft. He is an author to many books, including "The White House in Gingerbread: Memories & Recipes," "The Gingerbread White House: A Pop-Up Book," and "A Sweet World of White House Desserts," published by the White House Historical Association.

Martha Reeves developed her talent singing gospel at her grandfather's church and at Detroit's Northeastern High School. Together with her backup singers, the Vandellas, Reeves recorded a classic run of singles in the mid-1960s including "Dancing in the Street," "Nowhere to Run," "Come and Get These Memories," "Heatwave," " Jimmy Mack," " My Baby Loves Me," "I'm Ready for Love," and "Quicksand." In 1995, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

McLaurin, who will moderate the "Inside the White House: Behind the Scenes of the First Lady's Office," served as vice president for the development and opening of the new George Washington presidential library at Mount Vernon. Prior to that, he served as executive director for the Ronald Regan Presidential Foundation, and at the U.S. Department of Energy.

Individual tickets for the America's First Ladies Luncheon series are available by calling 616-254-0396, or on the Foundation website: Doors for registered guests will open at 11:30 a.m. and the luncheon will take place from noon to 1:30 p.m.

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