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The Obamas' Guests For The 2015 State Of The Union Address

Alan Gross (center), recently freed after being held in Cuba, speaks with NASA astronaut Scott Kelly before the start of the State of the Union speech in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol. At left is Judy Gross.
Alan Gross (center), recently freed after being held in Cuba, speaks with NASA astronaut Scott Kelly before the start of the State of the Union speech in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol. At left is Judy Gross.

President Obama's guest list for tonight's State of the Union address includes Alan Gross, the Maryland man who was freed from a Cuban prison in December after five years of captivity — an event that was announced along with a new era of relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

Gross will be attending with his wife, Judy, who worked to gain his release.

The White House says more than 23 guests will sit in a box in the House of Representatives along with first lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden and Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett.

The guests range from Staff Sgt. Jason Gibson of Westerville, Ohio, a veteran who was wounded in Afghanistan, to restaurant owner Carolyn Reed of Denver and Capt. Phillip C. Tingirides of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Others on the list include members of the public who wrote letters to the White House. Four of them — Carolyn Reed of Denver, Rebekah Erler of Minneapolis, Victor Fugate of Kansas City, Mo., and Katrice Mubiru of Woodland Hills, Calif. — met briefly with the president in the Oval Office earlier Tuesday.

With them will be Nicole Hernandez Hammer, a climate scientist of Cuban heritage who lives in South Florida.

As Bloomberg Businessweek notes, Hammer could be mentioned any number of times during the president's speech:

"She's a political trifecta. No, she's a double trifecta, in one fell swoop allowing the White House to wink at the themes of global warming, moms, relations with Cuba, immigration, Latina voters, and electoral-vote-rich Florida. Not all guests pack so many powerful (and timely) associations."

Here's the full guest list, with a link to each one's White House bio page:

  • Malik Bryant
  • Chelsey Davis
  • William Elder Jr.
  • LeDaya Epps
  • Rebekah Erler
  • Victor Fugate
  • Staff Sgt. Jason Gibson
  • Alan and Judy Gross
  • Nicole Hernandez Hammer
  • Scott Kelly
  • Anthony Mendez
  • Larry Merlo
  • Katrice Mubiru
  • Astrid Muhammad
  • Kathy Pham
  • State Sen. Catherine Pugh
  • Carolyn Reed
  • Dr. Pranav Shetty
  • LAPD Capt. Phillip C. Tingirides
  • Prophet Walker
  • Tiairris Woodard
  • Ana Zamora
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