Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

East Wing Shakeup as First Lady Gets New Chief of Staff

By Michael D. Shear
First lady Michelle Obama has replaced her chief of staff, Jackie Norris, with a longtime friend from Chicago, Susan Sher.

The announcement of the East Wing shakeup was made by press release this afternoon without giving any indication of what had prompted the change only a few months into the administration.

Norris, a former top aide to President Obama in Iowa during the campaign, leaves to become a senior adviser to the Corporation for National and Community Service, according to a press release from the White House.

"I am grateful to President and Mrs. Obama for the opportunities and friendship they have given me over the last few years and I am looking forward to becoming an integral part of this Administration's efforts to advance the cause of national and community service," Norris said in a statement distributed by the White House press office.

She will be replaced by Sher, who is described in the release as a close confidant of the first lady who has been advising Michelle Obama on health care and other issues. In the same statement, Sher said that "Mrs. Obama and I have worked together for many years on issues that we both care deeply about and I appreciate the opportunity to be of greater service to her and this Administration."

In her own statement, Michelle Obama called Norris a "a colleague and friend since the earliest days" and praised her for building "a strong organization in the East Wing."

But she noted that Sher is "a trusted advisor, longtime mentor and friend dating back to my work at the City of Chicago and later the University of Chicago."

By Web Politics Editor  |  June 4, 2009; 5:17 PM ET
Categories:  Cast of Characters  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Obama Discovers an Ancient Likeness at the Pyramids
Next: Obama Trip Offers Audacity and 'Hope,' But Will It Bring Action?

Comments

to boilj

Your memory is also incorrect. Nancy Regan did purchase new white house china, however the Regan's paid for the china themselves. It was not purchased with taxpayer money.

Posted by: huston406 | June 5, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

The only thing possibly newsworthy here is that in replacing Norris, an Obama campaign operative, with Sher, a long-time policy-oriented Chicago bureaucrat, is that perhaps this could mean Michelle Obama may turn her attention more toward public policy. Perhaps the skills required of a First Lady's Chief of Staff vary depending upon the role the First Lady attempts to carve out for herself. This move would seem to indicate that now that her family is settled in and her children's first school year in Washington is coming to a close, perhaps she is prepared to assume a more activist role.

Posted by: OHIOCITIZEN | June 5, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

THE REAL REASON FOR THE 'SHAKE-UP' -- ROUT THE 'AMERICAN GESTAPO'?


There is strong evidence that volunteer organizations under the direction of the Corporation for National and Community Service have been co-opted and misused by a "multi-agency coordinated action" of federal security/military/intel operatives to create what amounts to an American Gestapo...

...a vigilante-based "extrajudicial targeting/punishment/control matrix" that has made a mockery of the rule of law in EVERY community in the United States.

Could it be that Ms. Norris, as a close confidante of the Obamas, has been dispatched to clean up this malignancy on the federal bureaucracy?

http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america

http://nowpublic.com/world/domestic-torture-radiation-weaponry-americas-horrific-shame

OR (if links are corrupted / disabled):

http://NowPublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | June 5, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

dusty_toothpick- you either have selective memory or need to shake a bit of that dust off- The First Lady, with the help of a DC elementary school, planted a vegtable garden for the white house kitchen to use as well as donating fresh food to a local homeless shelter where the First Lady personally volunteers at least one day a week. The garden isn't for flowers, but for fresh food.

Mrs. Obama is known for wearing clothes "regular people" can wear, as she still wears J Crew and other inexpensive cloting lines. Many of the designer clothes she does wear are from lesser known designers, which gives them a chance to get their name out, but also cost a great deal less because they aren't well known.

I would be willing to bet this first family is saving operational money in the White House as they practice much more green policies than many people- growing some of their food, shutting off lights, using efficient light bulbs, even continuing doing some of their own chores in their private residence. If any family ever wanted to get away from the trappings of the office, this one would, if only they could.

Posted by: alaskan2 | June 5, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Shear, as a journalist you should already have a dictionary. Please go look up "shakeup" or even "shakedown." Please don't try and create stories that aren't there. This is the Washington Post, not the Enquirer. As a writer and citizen, don't mangle the language. And don't disrespect our first Lady, when you can't or have never done the job.

Posted by: IrnMdn | June 5, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Many of the comments I have read entirely miss the point, which is that PRESIDENT Obama and his family represent each and every one of us.

If we demean our President or his family through snide and unnecessary comments then we demean ourselves. For heavens sake, take pride in who you are, your nation and your President and his family.

Mrs Obama and her husband carry themselves with dignity and a style that can only be good for the people of this country. Rejoice in that, and get a life.

Posted by: Ex-Mil | June 5, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Mrs. Bush, in her mid to late 50's dressed much more conservatively. Make no mistake though, her clothes were every bit as expensive as those worn by our current First Lady.

Posted by: boilj | June 5, 2009 8:19 AM

--------------
Mrs. Bush as in Laura Bush is actually older by a few months than her husband President G.W. Bush. She's in her early 60's.

Posted by: LindaElliott | June 5, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

mtw0310: We will see if they got the message on the Dr. Tiller murder.


The police just arrested Hal Turner yesterday.

If you think defending torture is crazy.

Wait till the GOP start defending there right's for freedom of speech to threaten and ask for the murder of people they dislike.


Fuc News is still at it.
Just on Fuc News yesterday they had a member of some pro-life organization give out the addresses and show pictures of two late term abortion doctors offices.

mgd1: If she's a millionaire how is she spending our money.

Bush had 60 trips to Crawford. At 250,000 a piece. You do the math.

Posted by: langs13 | June 5, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

All of the first ladies since the 1960s has had a staff...so what is the big deal? If their responsibility is to handle all of the state dinners, and other social functions that go on inside the White House...one person can not to all of that. Now that the current Chief of Staff is leaving it is only right that Ms. Obama once again select someone SHE feels comfortable with and SHE feels can handle the job. I too would call in a close friend and advisor like Ms. Norris.

Posted by: TopperGem | June 5, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

to dcsportsfan1

your memory is bad about Nancy Reagan. In 1981 during a very severe recession she wore all designer clothes, ordered all new porcelain china for the White House and did a total renovation of many rooms of the White House - at the taxpayers expense. This was a severe change from the Carters, who were very frugal in the White House.

The Obamas were allotted $100K to redecorate the family area of the White House and instead they are decorating those rooms at their own cost. The Obama's who do have some money that they have made the good old fashioned way, hard work, not family hand-me-downs, pay for their own clothing, including her designer dresses.

Mrs. Bush wore all designer clothes while she was in the White House too. The attention has shifted though because Mrs. Obama is younger and dresses with a younger edge, while Mrs. Bush, in her mid to late 50's dressed much more conservatively. Make no mistake though, her clothes were every bit as expensive as those worn by our current First Lady.

Posted by: boilj | June 5, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Non-story. Change of staff is not a shake-up, especially since Mrs. Obama praised the organization that the outgoing chief of staff accomplished.

i just wish Obama would change some appointees like Robert Mueller for example who just dropped the ball in not protecting Dr. Tiller.

Posted by: mtw0310 | June 5, 2009 2:51 AM | Report abuse

At the least, the First Ladies have served as the official hostesses and social directors for the White House, functions especially important in the diplomatic and political realms. By the way, James Buchanan, the only bachelor president, had to get his niece to serve in those roles. Some first ladies have done much more: Eleanor Roosevelt was the eyes and ears of FDR's administration, especially since he was disabled with mobility problems and busy with the Great Depression and WWII. Jackie Kennedy restored the White Housse to its role as a living American museum. Lady Bird Johnson beautified America's highways. In the end, these women serve the President as much, if not more, than paid governemnt officials, appointed and elected. Give these women some credit.

Posted by: lgesquire | June 5, 2009 1:22 AM | Report abuse

WaPo, why is this change in the First Lady's staff a ''shakeup'' when it seems like everyone is amiable? Why is this even a story?

Posted by: Lalady | June 4, 2009 11:55 PM | Report abuse

If the staff member is found to have changed jobs of her own volition will it still be called a shakeup by WaPo?

Posted by: AverageJane | June 4, 2009 11:37 PM | Report abuse

dusty_toothpick,

You must be a city slicker who can't tell the difference between a vegetable and flower garden because you've never seen one, so I'll give you a pass.

Posted by: AverageJane | June 4, 2009 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like everyone is amicably agreeable to the new arrangements and positions. Ms. Obama get to bring in her longtime confidante, and Ms. Norris get to work on matters of public policy, which sounds more up her alley. So why is this a story?

Posted by: drkoelper | June 4, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Who cares about meatshell's whitehouse garden? I don't. There are 300K+ people out of work and all she can think about is her flowers. People are broke. People are hungry. People are homeless. Are those "flowers" gonna help any of these people? NOO! Give me all the taxes back that I paid in and I could care less what you plant in the dirt there.

Posted by: dusty_toothpick | June 4, 2009 11:26 PM | Report abuse

Frivolous Right Wing attacks will only drive voters further and further from the GOP!

Posted by: thomasmc1957 | June 4, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Where were all these apparent haters when former President's and First Ladies were traveling on tax payer money? Clearly the stink of a double standard by these haters is in the air.

Posted by: vgirl1 | June 4, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Do you people even bother to read past the headlines before you start criticizing? Apparently you don't even know a thing about the White House staffing and frankly never cared until a President and First Lady of color entered the White House. You weren't too worried about what the President and First Lady did with "your tax dollars" until now. Why is that? And unkind and untrue insinuations just illustrate how small you are. Congratulations to both women -- Sher and Norris -- for their new positions.

Posted by: trytruth | June 4, 2009 10:20 PM | Report abuse

In answer to "However, why has the elected President's wife evolved into an official position within her own right?"
It is a long tradition for the First Lady to have staff. Caroline Harrison, wife of Benjamin Harrison, was First Lady of the United States (1889-1892) to have her own staff. Today that includes a Chief of Staff, press secretary, White House Social Secretary, Chief Floral Designer, etc.
The Office of the First Lady is an entity of the White House Office, a branch of the Executive Office of the President. The Office of the First Lady is accountable to the First Lady for her to carry out her duties as hostess of the White House. Michelle Obama is in charge of all social and ceremonial events of the White House, and other official duties. The Office of the First Lady is an entity of the White House Office, a branch of the Executive Office of the President.

Posted by: veebuy | June 4, 2009 9:34 PM | Report abuse

its called blow out

Being chief of staff for a pres, first lady, governer etc is one of the most demanding jobs. Its 16 to 20 hour days 7 days a week with no holidays.

Posted by: jtackeff | June 4, 2009 9:33 PM | Report abuse

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO APPEAR TO HAVE READING PROBLEMS, I WILL POST PART OF THE ARTICLE.

Norris, a former top aide to President Obama in Iowa during the campaign, leaves to become a senior adviser to the Corporation for National and Community Service, according to a press release from the White House.


"I am grateful to President and Mrs. Obama for the opportunities and friendship they have given me over the last few years and I am looking forward to becoming an integral part of this Administration's efforts to advance the cause of national and community service," Norris said in a statement distributed by the White House press office.

Posted by: truthmatterz | June 4, 2009 9:33 PM | Report abuse

However, why has the elected President's wife evolved into an official position within her own right? With staff and advisors (all on our tax dime). Are we dying for 'royality' so much? If so, I would gladly become America's Emperor. Warning: I'm old school White guy
Posted by: mosthind | June 4, 2009 8:12 PM
************************************************

Well, maybe you haven't been paying attention mosthind, but the President's wife evolved into an official position within her own right? With staff and advisors (all on our tax dime) OVER A HUNDRED YEARS AGO!

Posted by: truthmatterz | June 4, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

i'm guessing michelle doesn't fly straight.

Posted by: newagent99 | June 4, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

"First Lady-gate", I'm thinkin'

Posted by: powerange | June 4, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Hey, jmk55.... Susan Sher is also White, so I guess that mutes your cynical comment.

Posted by: danshear | June 4, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

hmmmmm, maybe she was just...white?

Posted by: jmk55 | June 4, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Maybe she grew tired of one friend and needed another? Who knows and who cares!

Posted by: pegaleen78 | June 4, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

right on MGD. no other first lady every wore designer clothes, i seem to recall nancy regan shopping at filenes basement. and jetting off to nyc, indeed. they are the first presidential family to use air force one to go on vacation. i believe george and laura took greyhound to crawford 10 times a year. they are indeed a disgrace.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | June 4, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Norris: Good luck finding a new job in this obamaconomy.

Posted by: postreadernc | June 4, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Replaced by 'a close friend'..... Obama's wife seems like a very good wife. However, why has the elected President's wife evolved into an official position within her own right? With staff and advisors (all on our tax dime). Are we dying for 'royality' so much? If so, I would gladly become America's Emperor. Warning: I'm old school White guy who thinks Harry Truman was the best president in the past 100 years!

Posted by: mosthind | June 4, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse

"Posted by: mgd1 | June 4, 2009 7:30 PM"

i.e. Posted by a genuine lowlife.

Posted by: PutDownTheKoolaid | June 4, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Maybe there was some hanky panky.

Posted by: BaracksTeleprompter | June 4, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

MGD1, I think you need to lay off the MGD! Really, that's just laughable.

Posted by: Arlme | June 4, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Great!
She will do much better and be happier with her close friend doing the job.

Posted by: Jest4Fun | June 4, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

fr mgd1:

>..Millionairre Michelle's only interest is spending our hard earned money on her glamorous lifestyle. Designer clothes, jetting to NYC for a play, all off of our backs....

Completely incorrect. I suggest you read up on the garden that she planted at the White House.

Posted by: Alex511 | June 4, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Really - who cares?

Millionairre Michelle's only interest is spending our hard earned money on her glamorous lifestyle. Designer clothes, jetting to NYC for a play, all off of our backs.

Posted by: mgd1 | June 4, 2009 7:30 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company