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Michelle Obama Visits, John Berry Sworn In at OPM

By Ed O'Keefe

First Lady Michelle Obama appears today at Office of Personnel Management headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/Post)

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

The Eye on Twitter! | Track Obama nominees with Head Count

By Ed O'Keefe  | April 23, 2009; 4:20 PM ET
Categories:  Administration  
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I really, really like it that the Post lists the names of those honored for their long (typically, life-long) careers in public service. They have been recognized at each of these First Lady visits to our federal agencies and departments, and it is nice to see their names "in the paper." The Post serves our Washington community as a local paper as well as a national one and this is a good example of living up to that role.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | April 23, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

I am so proud of John Berry and so grateful for the honor of First Lady Michelle Obama attending the ceremony of his swearing-in. The decision to have veteran gay civil rights leader Dr. Kameny attending was a very classy touch, by a very classy guy. The Obama Administration is making history on so many fronts; we gay families and citizens of the U.S. are proud to finally have a seat or two at the table! On another note, it is incredibly refreshing to have someone with the superior integrity and ethics of Mr. Berry at the helm of OPM to make some significant changes in the federal hiring process and in government personnel in general...yay!!

Posted by: DrIMH | April 23, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

I feel that it is a wonderful thing that the First Lady Michelle Obama has been supportive for he swearing of Mr. Berry. I also feel that Mr. Berry is the first senior gay man to be involved in politics. I feel that we should be more diverse in politics and beyond. Although it was nice to see the first lady being more involved. I believe that it was a wonderful yet grateful experience.

Posted by: chaniquafrazier | April 23, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

I am always impressed by gay/lesbian members of the communities who do the right thing, who serve our country just as well as any other person and have been decorated in previous wars for the outstanding services they performed. I am appalled by the recent militant writings and expressions of hate by gay/lesbian people who seem to think they aren't supposed to live by the law or only have ears to hear the things that promote their lifestyle. For example, the Hilton judge's reaction to Miss California was totally unjustified and most of us would have been crucified or fired if we had reacted in the same manner. We must follow the law of the land and the wishes of the "majority", not the "minority" when it comes to governing our land. Good luck to Mr. Berry and I hope he does a good job without trying to put more laws on the books.

Posted by: noseyten | April 24, 2009 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Monday, April 20, 2009

Obama movie nears production in Honolulu

Barack Obama. Internet film will probe Obama’s early years in Honolulu. Pre-production has begun; taping starts May 9th. The mainstream media ignore Obama’s past; . “The poet William Wordsworth wrote, ‘The child is father of the man,’” “That is especially true in Obama’s case. Our new film will make history. Real history

Posted by: myworld | April 24, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

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