Michelle Obama's top communications aide to leave in August
By Nia-Malika Henderson
The top communications staffer for first lady Michelle Obama will leave her post, the White House announced Friday, becoming the second high East Wing staffer to leave in the last six months.
Camille Johnston, Michelle Obama's director of communications, will step down at the end of August and return to the private sector, where she formerly worked for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In her time in the East Wing, Johnston helped craft a message and image for Michelle Obama that has led to sky-high approval ratings for Obama and has transformed her into one of the administration's biggest assets. Her approval ratings stand at 66 percent, a nearly 20 point swing from two years ago.
"Camille has become a trusted advisor to me and to the entire East Wing," said Obama saidin a statement. "From our first day in the White House when we opened the doors and greeted visitors, she has led a communications team that has developed creative and effective strategies for the Let's Move! campaign, our work on behalf of military families, arts and cultural events in the White House and our international agenda. Her dedication, calming presence and expertise have been invaluable. She will be missed, but we wish her all the best."
Johnston, whose last day on the job is Aug. 27, wasn't new to the White House when she joined Obama's staff--she had worked for Tipper Gore, Vice President Al Gore's wife, from 1999 to 2001 and also worked on President Bill Clinton's campaign.
"Being invited by Mrs. Obama to be a part of her East Wing team was a privilege for which I am incredibly grateful," Johnston said in a statement. "It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve the First Lady and the President and to be a part of this historic Administration."
Johnston orchestrated a public relations campaign for the first lady, helping coordinate coverage that landed her on major magazine covers, such as Vogue, People and O, the Oprah magazine, and spots on television shows Sesame Street, Jay Leno and Iron Chef.
Early in the Obama administration, she was responsible for helping write speeches for the first lady, but handed those duties over to another speechwriter in the fall.
Johnston's departure comes five months after Desiree Rogers left her post as social secretary, and about a year after Susan Sher took over as chief of staff from Jackie Norris. Michelle Obama is expected to vacation for much of August, and resume her regular schedule in September, which could include campaigning for Democrats.
July 30, 2010; 3:26 PM ET
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