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Valerie June Jarrett (née Bowman; born November 14, 1956)[1] is an American businesswoman and former government official. She served as the senior advisor to President of the United States Barack Obama and assistant to the president for public engagement and intergovernmental affairs from 2009 to 2017. Before that, she served as a co-chair of the Obama–Biden Transition Project.[2][3]

Valerie Jarrett
Valerie Jarrett official portrait small.jpg
Director of the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs
In office
January 20, 2009 – January 20, 2017
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Julie Cram (Public Liaison)
Succeeded by George Sifakis (Public Liaison)
Senior Advisor to the President
In office
January 20, 2009 – January 20, 2017
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Barry Jackson
Succeeded by Jared Kushner
Stephen Miller
Personal details
Born Valerie June Bowman
(1956-11-14) November 14, 1956 (age 61)
Shiraz, Iran
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s)
William Jarrett
(m. 1983; div. 1988)
Children Laura Jarrett (b. 1985)
Parents
Education Stanford University (BA)
University of Michigan (JD)

Contents

Early life and educationEdit

Jarrett was born in Shiraz, Iran,[1] during the Pahlavi dynasty, to American parents James E. Bowman and Barbara T. Bowman. Her father, a pathologist and geneticist, ran a hospital for children in Shiraz in 1956 as part of a program where American physicians and agricultural experts sought to help in the health and farming efforts of developing countries. When she was five years old, the family moved to London for a year, later moving to Chicago in 1963.[4]

Her parents are both of European and African-American descent. On the television series Finding Your Roots, DNA testing indicated that Jarrett is of 49% European, 46% African, and 5% Native American descent. Among her European roots, she was found to have French and Scottish ancestry.[5] One of her maternal great-grandfathers, Robert Robinson Taylor, was the first accredited African-American architect, and the first African-American student enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[6] Jarrett's father once told her that her great-grandfather was Jewish.[7]

As a child, Jarrett spoke Farsi, French, and English.[8] In 1966, her mother was one of four child advocates who created the Erikson Institute. The institute was established to provide collective knowledge in child development for teachers and other professionals working with young children.[9] She graduated from Northfield Mount Hermon in 1974, and earned a B.A. in psychology from Stanford University in 1978 and a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the University of Michigan Law School in 1981.[10] On May 21, 2016, Jarrett received the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from Colby College in Waterville, Maine.[11]

CareerEdit

Chicago municipal politicsEdit

Jarrett got her start in Chicago politics in 1987 working for Mayor Harold Washington[12] as deputy corporation counsel for finance and development.[13]

Jarrett continued to work in the mayor's office in the 1990s. She was deputy chief of staff for Mayor Richard Daley, during which time (1991) she hired Michelle Robinson, then engaged to Barack Obama, away from a private law firm. Jarrett served as commissioner of the department of planning and development from 1992 through 1995, and she was chairwoman of the Chicago Transit Board from 1995 to 2005.[13]

Business administrationEdit

Until joining the Obama administration, Jarrett was the CEO of the Habitat Company, a real estate development and management company,[14] which she joined in 1995. She was replaced by Mark Segal, an attorney who joined the company in 2002, as CEO. Daniel E. Levin is the chairman of Habitat, which was formed in 1971.[15] Jarrett was a member of the board of Chicago Stock Exchange (2000–2007, as chairman, 2004–2007).

She was a member of the board of trustees of the University of Chicago Medical Center from 1996 to 2009, becoming vice chairwoman in 2002 and chairwoman in 2006.[16] She also served as vice chairwoman of the board of trustees of the University of Chicago and a trustee of the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.[17] Jarrett serves on the board of directors of USG Corporation, a Chicago-based building materials corporation.

Advisor to Barack ObamaEdit

 
Obama speaks to Jarrett and other staff, August 2009
 
Barack Obama and Valerie Jarrett converse in the Blue Room, White House, 2010

Jarrett was one of President Obama's longest serving advisors and confidantes and was "widely tipped for a high-profile position in an Obama administration."[18][19]

Unlike Bert Lance, who arrived from Georgia with President [Jimmy] Carter and became his budget director, or Karen Hughes, who was President [George W.] Bush's communications manager, Ms. Jarrett isn't a confidante with a particular portfolio. What she does share with these counterparts is a fierce sense of loyalty and a refusal to publicly say anything that may reflect poorly on the candidate—or steal his thunder.[18]

On November 14, 2008, President-elect Barack Obama selected Jarrett to serve as a senior advisor to the president and assistant to the president for intergovernmental relations and public liaison.[20]

Jarrett was one of three senior advisors to President Obama.[21] She held the retitled position of assistant to the president for intergovernmental affairs and public engagement,[21] managed the White House Office of Public Engagement, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, and Office of Urban Affairs; she also chaired the White House Council on Women and Girls and the White House Office of Olympic, Paralympic, and Youth Sport.[22] She was part of the U.S. State Visit to the UK in May 2011.[23]

She said that the 2011 report Women in America, which the administration produced for the Council on Women and Girls, would be used to guide policy-making.[24]

Jarrett had a staff of approximately three dozen and received full-time Secret Service protection.[25] Jarrett's role as both a friend of the Obamas and as senior advisor in the White House was controversial: in his memoirs Robert M. Gates, former secretary of defense, discussed his objection to her involvement in foreign security affairs;[26] David Axelrod reported in his memoirs about Rahm Emanuel's attempts to have her selected as Obama's replacement in the senate, due to concerns about the difficulty in working with a family friend in a major policy role.[27]

Additional leadership positionsEdit

In addition to being senior advisor to the president, Jarrett held other leadership positions and completed further duties. Among those included chairing the White House Council on Women and Girls and co-chairing the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.[28][29] In March 2014, she participated as a speaker on Voices in Leadership, an original Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health webcast series, in a discussion entitled, "Leadership in the White House," moderated by Dr. Atul Gawande.[30]

Relationship with the ObamasEdit

 
Obama speaks with Jarrett in a West Wing corridor

In 1991, as deputy chief of staff to Mayor Richard Daley, Jarrett interviewed Michelle Robinson for an opening in the mayor's office, after which she immediately offered Robinson the job.[31] Robinson asked for time to think and also asked Jarrett to meet her fiancé, Barack Obama. The three ended up meeting for dinner. After the dinner, Robinson accepted the job with the mayor's office. It was at this time that Jarrett reportedly took the couple under her wing and "introduced them to a wealthier and better-connected Chicago than their own."[32] When Jarrett later left her position at the mayor's office to head the Chicago department of planning and development, Michelle Obama went with her.

Post-Obama administrationEdit

After leaving the White House, Jarrett worked as a non-salaried advisor to the Obama Foundation.[33] In 2017 she was appointed to the board of directors of Ariel Investments,[34] and joined the board of directors of the ride-sharing company Lyft.[35] In January 2018 she became a distinguished senior fellow at the University of Chicago Law School.[36][37] She has also signed a book deal with Viking Press for a book expected to be released in 2019.[38]

In popular cultureEdit

Along with Donna Brazile, vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, she is one of the real-life political figures to make a cameo appearance as herself in the CBS drama The Good Wife.[39]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1983 she married William Robert Jarrett, son of Chicago Sun-Times reporter Vernon Jarrett. She attributes her switch from a private to a public career to the birth of their daughter, and her own desire to do something that would make their daughter proud.[40] Her daughter, Laura Jarrett, is an attorney and reporter for CNN,[41][42] and daughter-in-law of the Canadian politician Bas Balkissoon.[43]

To one reporter's emailed question about her divorce, she replied, "Married in 1983, separated in 1987, and divorced in 1988. Enough said."[40] In a Vogue profile, she further explained, "We grew up together. We were friends since childhood. In a sense, he was the boy next door. I married without really appreciating how hard divorce would be."[40] William Jarrett died on November 19, 1993, at age 40, and at the time of his death was director of obstetrics and gynecology at Jackson Park Hospital.[44]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Hamilton, William (August 21, 2014). "Valerie Jarrett: The woman who stays for dinner". www.skyhinews.com. Retrieved May 29, 2018. 
  2. ^ Terry, Don (July 27, 2008). "Insider has Obama's ear: What's she telling him?". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on July 29, 2008. Retrieved August 23, 2008. 
  3. ^ King, John (November 9, 2008). "Obama wants Valerie Jarrett to replace him in Senate". CNNPolitics.com. 
  4. ^ "2-Min Bio: Valerie Jarrett", Time, November 11, 2008 .
  5. ^ Stated on Finding Your Roots, PBS, October 28, 2014.
  6. ^ Ellen Weiss, "Robert Robinson Taylor", Encyclopedia of Alabama
  7. ^ https://forward.com/schmooze/135922/when-valerie-jarrett-revealed-her-jewish-roots/
  8. ^ Kantor, Jodi (November 23, 2008). "An Old Hometown Mentor, Still at Obama's Side". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ History, The Erikson Institute, archived from the original on September 25, 2008, retrieved November 9, 2008 .
  10. ^ Valerie Jarrett to leave University of Chicago posts for White House, University of Chicago, January 9, 2009, ...Stanford University in 1978 and a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School in 1981 .
  11. ^ "Honorary Degree Citations". Commencement. 2016-05-22. Retrieved 2016-06-10. 
  12. ^ "Campaign 2008: The Family Friend: Valerie Jarrett". Newsweek. May 19, 2008. Retrieved August 23, 2008. 
  13. ^ a b "Valerie Jarrett to lead expanded Board of University of Chicago Medical Center" (Press release). University of Chicago News Office. June 13, 2006. 
  14. ^ The Habitat Company .
  15. ^ Gallun, Alby (February 5, 2009), "Habitat promotes veteran to CEO", Chicago Real Estate Daily (Crain's), retrieved May 4, 2009 .
  16. ^ "Valerie Jarrett to leave University of Chicago posts for White House". uchicago.edu. 2009. Retrieved September 2, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Valerie Jarrett Profile". Forbes.com. 2008. Retrieved August 23, 2008. 
  18. ^ a b Belkin, Douglas (May 12, 2008). "For Obama, Advice Straight Up: Valerie Jarrett Is Essential Member of Inner Set". Wall Street Journal. 
  19. ^ Bai, Matt (August 10, 2008). "Is Obama the End of Black Politics?". New York Times Magazine. 
  20. ^ Kantor, Jodi (November 14, 2008). "Obama Hires Jarrett for Senior Role". New York Times. Retrieved January 18, 2010. 
  21. ^ a b "Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett". The Administration: White House Staff. WhiteHouse.gov. Retrieved January 29, 2009. Valerie B. Jarrett is Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Liaison 
  22. ^ Kantor, Jodi (November 14, 2008). "Longstanding Obama Advisor Gets Senior Role at the White House". New York Times. 
  23. ^ "US State Visit, 24 to 26 May 2011 Guest List". Royal Family official website. 
  24. ^ Stolberg, Sheryl (March 1, 2011). "White House Issues Report on Women in America". The New York Times. Retrieved March 5, 2011. 
  25. ^ Becker, Jo (2012-09-01). "The Other Power in the West Wing". NY Times. Retrieved May 17, 2013. 
  26. ^ Robert M. Gates. Duty: memoirs of a secretary at war. Deckle Edge, 2014
  27. ^ David Axelrod, Believer: my forty years in politics, Penguin Press, 2015.
  28. ^ A renewed call to action to end rape and sexual assault, The White House Blog, Washington, DC: Valerie Jarrett, January 22, 2014, Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  29. ^ Memorandum: Establishing White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, WhiteHouse.gov, Washington, DC: The White House, January 22, 2014, Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  30. ^ "Leadership in the White House". Archived from the original on 2015-09-14. 
  31. ^ Van Meter, Jonathan (October 2008). "Barack's Rock". Vogue. 
  32. ^ Kantor, Jodi (November 24, 2008). "Chicago mentor follows Obama to Washington" – via NYTimes.com. 
  33. ^ "Catching up with Valerie Jarrett". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2018-05-30. 
  34. ^ MarksJarvis, Gail. "Former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett joins Ariel Investments board". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2018-05-30. 
  35. ^ "Former Obama adviser joins Lyft Board of Directors". NBC News. Retrieved 2018-05-30. 
  36. ^ Janssen, Kim. "Valerie Jarrett joins University of Chicago Law School". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2018-05-30. 
  37. ^ "Valerie Jarrett, former senior adviser to President Obama, to join University of Chicago Law School". UChicago News. 2017-12-11. Retrieved 2018-05-30. 
  38. ^ "Valerie Jarrett signs book deal". POLITICO. Retrieved 2018-05-30. 
  39. ^ Jackson, David (September 29, 2014). "Valerie Jarrett appears on 'The Good Wife'". USAToday.com. Retrieved February 6, 2015. 
  40. ^ a b c van Meter, Jonathan (October 2008), "Barack's Rock", Vogue, retrieved December 15, 2008 .
  41. ^ Boyer, Dave (January 20, 2017). "Laura Jarrett, Valerie Jarrett daughter, hired by CNN". The Washington Times. 
  42. ^ "CNN Profiles - Laura Jarrett - Reporter - CNN". CNN. Retrieved May 30, 2018. 
  43. ^ Benzie, Robert (June 20, 2012). "Obama attends wedding of Toronto Liberal MPP's son". thestar.com. 
  44. ^ Heise, Kenan (November 23, 1993). "Dr. William Jarrett Of Jackson Park Hospital". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 7, 2016. 

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Julie Cram
as Director of the Office of Public Liaison
Director of the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs
2009–2017
Succeeded by
George Sifakis
as Director of the Office of Public Liaison
Preceded by
Barry Jackson
Senior Advisor to the President
2009–2017
Served alongside: Brian Deese, Shailagh Murray
Succeeded by
Jared Kushner
Stephen Miller