Ryan’s State of the Union guest list focuses on poverty fighters

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. speaks to the crowd at an economic forum, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, in Columbia, S.C.
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. speaks to the crowd at an economic forum, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, in Columbia, S.C. AP

While Tuesday will be President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union speech, it will be Paul Ryan’s first as speaker of the House of Representatives and he’s using his choice of guests for the event to highlight his campaign against poverty.

“The answer to poverty isn’t the money in Washington,” said Ryan, R-Wis. “The answer to poverty is entrepreneurs and innovators like these who are actually making a difference, community by community.”

Nuns from Sisters of the Poor; a pastor and president of a Wisconsin school district; two anti-gang activists from Dallas; and a 4-year-old Wisconsin boy who started a drive to send care packages to armed service members abroad are among the guests who will be sitting in Ryan’s box for Obama’s speech.

The speaker’s guests include:

The Rev. Melvin Hargrove, president of the Racine Unified School District in Wisconsin. Hargrove is founder and senior pastor of Zoe Outreach Ministries, which offers programs that fight poverty and drug addiction.

Bishop Shirley Holloway, founder of the House of Help City of Hope, which deals with homelessness and addiction in Washington, D.C.

Pastor Omar Jahwar, founder of Vision Regeneration, a gang prevention program that provides counseling and mentoring services in 17 Dallas public schools. He was the first gang specialist hired in Texas state prisons.

Antong Lucky, founder of We Make Real Music, Inc. Lucky, a former member of the Bloods gang in Dallas, established the program while he was in prison to help young people get out of gangs. He joined Vision Regeneration after his release in 2000 and launched a recording studio to fight the glamorization of gang violence in music.

Robert Woodson, founder and president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, a group that helps low-income residents address problems in their communities.

Joanna Wynn, founder of Walkin’ in My Shoes in Kenosha, Wis., a non-profit organization that assists young people in escaping poverty.

Sister Lorain Marie Maguire and Sister Constance Veit. The nuns are members of Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic order that has served the impoverished elderly for more than 175 years. The order filed a lawsuit arguing that the Affordable Care Act is forcing their insurance to cover birth control prescriptions. Birth control violates their religious beliefs.

Logan Barritt from Milton, Wis., the 4-year-old who launched a drive to send care packages to military service members around the world.

“Logan reminded us that a little pocket change can go a long way, especially when it comes to giving back to the men and women who give everything for us,” Ryan said.

William Douglas: 202-383-6026, @williamgdouglas

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