Michelle Obama Making First in-Person Public Appearance Since COVID 'to Help Us Emerge from Pandemic'

The former first lady will appear at The Nantucket Project's "Circus of Ideas and Conversations" in September

Michelle Obama
Former First Lady Michelle Obama. Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty

Michelle Obama is scheduled to make her first public appearance since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers tell PEOPLE: The former first lady will appear at the The Nantucket Project's 10th annual gathering in September, alongside speakers including Megyn Kelly, Russell Brand and Ashley Judd.

The Nantucket Project aims to bring together a diverse group of thinkers who share stories via live talks, music, and films. This year's event, "The Circus of Ideas and Conversations," will include four days of "live talks, original films, and unforgettable experiences."

"Mrs. Obama is the perfect person to help us emerge from the pandemic in a live setting," Nantucket Project co-founder Tom Scott said in a statement to PEOPLE. (The former first lady did make an in-person appearance on Stephen Colbert's show in May.)

"She represents everything we believe in and the ethos that has driven us for the last decade; curiosity, exploration, an understanding of the importance of community and the power of conversation," Scott said. "To say we are excited is an understatement."

The event — slated for Sept. 23-26 in Nantucket, Massachusetts — will mark the official launch of the Neighborhood Project, designed as an "online conversation engine," according to its website.

The "proprietary digital gathering platform" will allow members, known as Neighbors, to join groups or start their own in order to have meaningful conversations.

"In the 70's jogging was a concept that outliers pursued … today it's commonplace," Scott told PEOPLE of the new launch. "Conversation is headed on that same journey."

Past speakers at the annual event include former President George W. Bush, Jennifer Garner and Olympic gold medalist Hope Solo.

U.S. President <a href="https://people.com/tag/barack-obama" data-inlink="true">Barack Obama</a> and his wife Michelle
From left: Michelle and Barack Obama in 2019. Scott Olson/Getty

Obama's participation comes after a busy year — but no in-person appearances — for the former first lady, 57.

She spoke to PEOPLE earlier this year about how the pandemic changed things for her, former President Barack Obama and their daughters, Malia, 22, and Sasha, 19.

The Obamas all isolated together — splitting time between the family's homes in Washington, D.C., and Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts — while Malia, a recent Harvard University grad, and Sasha, a sophomore at hte University of Michigan, attended classes online.

"These have been challenging times. Many people have struggled: jobs lost, people going hungry," Mrs. Obama told PEOPLE. "We've learned to count our blessings, the importance of health and family."

Even while working remotely, she has been busy.

In March, her kids' cooking series, Waffles + Mochi, premiered on Netflix. The show sees the former first lady in an unexpected role, starring alongside puppets and guest chefs who teach kids to prepare healthy foods.

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In July, the former first couple released a new animation series — also under the Netflix banner — aimed at educating children on U.S. civics lessons.

Titled We the People, the 10-episode series features three-minute music videos covering a wide range of topics to enlighten "a new generation of young Americans about the power of the people," the streaming service wrote in a press release.

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