November 15th, 2008
09:12 AM ET
11 years ago

Obama team announces Jarrett as senior advisor

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Jarrett is a longtime adviser to Obama."] WASHINGTON (CNN) - A longtime friend of Barack and Michelle Obama has officially been named a senior advisor to the incoming president.

President-elect Obama, in a statement released Saturday morning by his transition staff, announced that Valerie Jarrett will serve as Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Relations and Public Liaison. CNN Contributor Roland Martin reported the offer to Jarrett on Friday evening.

Jarrett is currently co-chair of Obama's transition team and was senior adviser for his presidential campaign. She became the president and CEO of The Habitat Company on January 31, 2007, and was also the company's vice president. The Habitat Company develops and manages residential apartments and condominiums.

Before joining The Habitat Company, Jarrett served for eight years in government for the city of Chicago; first as deputy corporation counsel for finance and development, then as deputy chief of staff for Mayor Richard M. Daley and finally as commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development.

Jarrett met Barack Obama when she hired his wife Michelle for a job in the Chicago mayor's office years ago and has be very close to the two of them ever since.

The transition team also made official Saturday the hiring of Ron Klain as chief of staff to the vice president, a story CNN first reported on Thursday. Klain was also chief of staff to Vice President Al Gore, but he's no stranger to Vice President-elect Joe Biden, having served as chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee when Biden was the committee chairman. Klain also served as general counsel of Gore's 2000 Florida recount effort, and was portrayed by actor Kevin Spacey in an HBO movie about the event.

This year Klain helped with debate preparation for both Obama and Biden.

In a statement released Saturday morning, Biden said "Ron Klain has been a trusted advisor of mine for over 20 years. He brings extraordinary judgment, a deep understanding of the important policy issues facing our nation, a wide range of experience in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of
government, as well as a unique understanding of how the Vice President's office works."

The transition team also announced Saturday that Phil Schiliro will serve as assistant to the president for legislative Affairs. Schiliro is currently director of congressional relations for the Obama transition team. Before that he was a senior adviser to Obama's presidential campaign.

Schiliro has worked in Congress for more than 25 years, in positions including chief of staff to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California, and policy director for then-Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and staff director for the Senate Democratic Leadership Committees.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (96 Responses)
  1. Mia and Mike

    Good, I'm glad he picked her as a member of his administration. She seems to be really sharp on all interviews I've seen. I just wish he'd know pick Bill Richardson for Sec. of State and Hillary for a top post in Health and Human Services.

    Does anyone know of another Cabinet position Bill would be interested in if Hillary is chosen as Sec. of State? I really hope he'll be a Cabinet member of some sort.

    November 15, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  2. Jennifer Lisa Vest

    Great to see him pick a woman of color for a post. Refreshing change of pace for a Americans who are women of color in a country where everyone in public office is a white man or occasionally a white woman or a man of color but no women of color are to be found.

    November 15, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  3. KJL

    She's brilliant and trustworthy. A perfect fit.

    November 15, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  4. S Callahan

    Nice choice, I'm impressed with this woman with her levelheadness, her insight into the obvious and not so obvious...and her ability to speak with intelligence and gentleness. I was hoping she had a top spot...

    November 15, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  5. bob j

    pres elect obama is picking some good people to help him i am very pleased with his appointment so far i hope he can add hillary and gov richardson good luck pres elect obama we as a nation are with you

    November 15, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  6. mitch

    i trust president barack's judgement. he will pick a good team.anyone not doing their job, will lose the opportunity to serve under what will come to be known as the greatest presidency in our history. if you are a neocon, and dont like it,please remain on the shuddup couch.

    November 15, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  7. lol

    is this the change, he spoke about? this person has pending lawsuits because of her sweetheart housing deals, and is linked to convicted felon tony rezko. looks like another corrupt political chrony of obamas with questionable personal ties surfaces.

    November 15, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  8. phil

    gee is she qualified, it sure doesn't look like it to me.

    November 15, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  9. David

    Good choice, he needs someone who he knows has his back.

    November 15, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  10. phil

    it would be nice if obama appointed some people to positions of which they have some pertinent experience. lets face the truth, if they lack the needed experience they will be short timers, or scapgoats like the clinton administraction. i think bill clinton has the record for tossing the most people under the bus. im sure obama will break that record.

    November 15, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  11. Hope

    At Last some people wwith common sense running the country. Lets get the country back on track Mr President we are fully behind you ready to build this country.

    November 15, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  12. Simmy

    Congratulations Senior Advisor Jarrett! Another wise choice!

    November 15, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  13. Meka

    America's Story........

    November 15, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  14. Barbara Eason

    Congratulations to those who are joining the Obama team. It appears that he is doing a great job in taking his time to select those who are most suited for the jobs and who have the best interest of the people in their hearts.

    Although I am a major, major supporter of President Elect Obama, I sure hope he selects Hillary Clinton as the Secretary of State. She showed she is s team player after losing the nomination by going out and campaigning for Mr. President-elect Obama. If any one deserves a place in his administration, if any one deserves to be Secretary of State, it is Senator Hillary R. Clinton.

    November 15, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  15. vicki

    Great choice, Barack.

    November 15, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  16. Tracy M.

    It's interesting that the first paragraph of this article lists her as a "friend" of the Obamas, instead of citing her education and experience. No doubt many posts on this site will be critical of the appointment for this reason. Google her; she's amazing, and comes from an amazing family. Try not to jump on the bandwagon until you have more facts. Even a stellar organization like CNN can't always do the necessary research.

    November 15, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  17. DC

    I can't comment on her quals but I sure hope he surrounds himself with people who actually have experience and have actually led something, anything. The fact remains that slightly over half of the nation's voters decided to roll the dice and enact the the worlds most eggregious case of affirmative action by electing a nobody with no qualifications. He just another, albeit only half white and more elequent, George Bush.

    November 15, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  18. carolflowery

    let's just name 2009 the year of the Chicago Machine, wow, mafia moves to dc

    November 15, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  19. There IS hope for the future>>>

    His cabinet is coming together nicely! I want to see where Colin Powell fits in and Gates too!

    November 15, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  20. jrzshor

    will the city of chicago government big wigs now be national big wigs?

    November 15, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  21. Wacky Obacky

    Oh boy, Chicago-style politics are on the way. What's next – Bill Ayers in charge of Homeland Security?

    November 15, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  22. Frank from Peterborough

    It sure looks like Obama is preparing an all star team for his Presidency and will be in good shape to tackle the issues from the first day he is installed in office.

    Maybe the GOP will take some lessons from how both he and his campaign conducted themselves and salvage what is left of their party.

    November 15, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  23. phil

    the good thing i like abt obama is his ability to take his time and make a selection of those that is gonna govern with him in the next 4-8yrs. he is wise and smart and i pray that he will seek the face of God in his quest to succeed and empower the american people. obama if u can read this or have poeple that read stuff for you, pls becareful of hillary clinton, she may smile with you but who knows the depth of the heart.

    November 15, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  24. Vi

    Great choice, he is going to need to surround himself with those people he can trust.

    November 15, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  25. Joyce Becker

    Very good choice, so far our President-elect Obama is making excellent choices for his new administration and he will continue to do so.

    November 15, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
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