Michelle Obama Visits, John Berry Sworn In at OPM
Making her ninth visit to a federal agency, First Lady Michelle Obama lent her star wattage today to the ceremonial swearing in ceremony for Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry.
Berry, the most senior gay person in the Obama administration, noted the historical significance of his ascension by inviting Dr. Franklin E. Kameny to attend the event. The military veteran turned civil rights activist was fired by the Army in 1957 because of his homosexuality, a personnel move that was legal and official government policy at the time, Berry said.
Today, "It is the president's and my opinion, that employees should only be judged by their ability to do the job and their performance while on the job and not by any other irrelevant factors," Berry said. "In no small part, Dr. Kameny's work and other leaders like him made it possible for me and other leaders like him to stand here today."
Obama later echoed Berry's remarks, telling the 300 assembled employees and guests at OPM headquarters that "Our nation is best served when the principles of excellence and diversity guide the federal government’s hiring processes. It all starts there."
The first lady recounted her appearance earlier in the day at a White House event with the children of employees of the Executive Office of the President, the White House Military Office and the Secret Service.
"They asked some tough questions. They were hard. I think that was my first official press conference," she said to laughs.
Obama said she told the children about the importance of public service, noting that "it’s never too early to encourage children to make service an integral part of their lives."
During her remarks, Obama also singled out OPM Deputy Chief of Staff Jennifer Mason, who was one of the first people hired by then-candidate Obama when he ran for the Illinois State Senate.
"There were three people working in an office at 71st and Jeffrey," Obama said. "Knocking on doors, trying to get people to get to meetings. Me and Jennifer and Barack going door to door. So we’re grateful to have Jennifer as part of this administration."
See a full list of the veteran OPM employees who appeared on stage with Obama below.
Lorraine D. Elyde, 47 years of service
Frank X. Jacquette III, 43 years
Robert T. Coco, 42 years
Ronnie H. Byers, 42 years
Harry Allan Wolf, 42 years
Richard Valentich, 41 years
Judith A. Davis, 41 years
Juan Louovann Smith, 41 years
Patrician Ann Dickey, 41 years
Betty L. Exline, 40 years
John M. Carmichael, 40 years
Thomas Anthony Glennon, 40 years
Patricia A. Rochester, 40 years
Foster B. Hedgepeth, 40 years
Michael R. Virga, 40 years
Jacqueline Gould Felton, 40 years
Jeffrey M. Wisoff, 40 years
Joyce Elaine Harrell, 39 years
Gregory S. Jackson, 39 years
Ronald E. Pickney, 39 years
Carl John Yarian, 39 years
Yvonne Catherine Fields, 39 years
Gary Dean Wahlert, 39 years
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