MIchelle Obama's Wikipedia entry states:
In 2002, she began working for the University of Chicago Hospitals, first as executive director for community affairs and, beginning May, 2005, as Vice President for Community and External Affairs.
A May 9, 2005 press release from the Univ. of Chicago announced the appointment, reviewed her resume, and mentioned her ties to the new senator:
Michelle Obama has been appointed vice president for community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals. Obama, who was previously the executive director for community affairs at the Hospitals, will be responsible for all programs and initiatives that involve the relationship between the Hospitals and the community. She will also take over management of the Hospitals' business diversity program. . . .
Obama's husband is a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. After seven years as a member of the Illinois State Senate, he was elected this past November to the U.S. Senate and was sworn into office January 4, 2005. He serves on the Environment and Public Works Committee, the Veterans' Affairs Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee.
They live in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago and are the proud parents of two girls. The Obamas are members of Trinity United Church of Christ on the South Side.
There was no "Vice President for Community and External Affairs" listed in the 2004 UC Hospitals Annual Report, so the position that Michelle Obama was given may have been created specifically for her. According to the press release, it would appear that in 2005 she was put in charge of at least one new program — the Business Diversity Initiative — besides the one she was running in 2004.
The Business Diversity Initiative is described in a 2006 report:
In 2002, the University of Chicago Medical Center established the Business Diversity Initiative, a program designed to seek out a larger number of minority- and women-owned businesses to deliver products and services to the Medical Center. In fiscal year 2006, the University of Chicago Medical Center spent more than $19 million with minority- and women-owned businesses for an array of goods and services, which ranges from architecture, engineering and construction services to medical/surgical supplies and information technology (IT) consulting.
Officials at the University of Chicago Hospitals on Tuesday explained a large salary jump for Sen. Barack Obama's wife shortly after he took office as a normal promotion that reflected expanded duties in her job as a liaison with the South Side community surrounding the medical center.