Christine Jahnke, Minnesota native and speech coach for Michelle Obama, dies

Jahnke died on her 57th birthday.
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Christine Jahnke, a Minnesota native and speech coach to former First Lady Michelle Obama, died from colon cancer on her 57th birthday. 

Jahnke was born on Aug. 4, 1963, in Albert Lea, Minnesota, and attended Winona State University, where she studied mass communications. She later earned a master's degree in liberal studies from Georgetown University, according to her obituary in the Albert Lea Tribune

After graduating from Winona State, Jahnke worked in TV news at Channel 10 in Rochester, Minnesota, where she was known as Chris Cambridge. 

She advanced from weathercaster to anchor, telling Washingtonian magazine "I quickly learned that I wanted to be the person behind the camera, making things happen for other people." 

Working on Michael Dukakis’ presidential campaign brought her to Washington, D.C., where she went on to start Positive Communications, a company where she provided speech coaching and media training to business leaders, nonprofits and political leaders who aligned with her values, including Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, as well as leaders at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Deloitte, eBay, Intel, Planned Parenthood, Sierra Club, and Union of Concerned Scientists, her Positive Communications bio says

She worked behind the scenes at five Democratic National Conventions, the Women's Media Center said. She also authored two books, "The Well-Spoken Woman" and "The Well-Spoken Woman Speaks Out."

"Reading was her passion; painting was a hobby and she loved her dogs," her obituary says. 

Jahnke is survived by her husband, parents and siblings, her obituary says. A service will be held in Albert Lea and in Quoque, New York. 

Memorials can be made to the American Cancer Society or Salvation Army.

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