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These Are the 29 Black Women Who Help Run the White House

Avatar • Oct 17, 2015

Featured in the November 2015 issue of Essence magazine are the 29 powerhouse black women charged with keeping the Obama Administration running. Aptly titled, “Women of the White House,” the feature not only pays homage to these ladies, but also shares with the readers the secrets to their success.

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Never take a job that doesn’t terrify [you]. Those are the jobs worth doing.”

—Adaeze Enekwechi, Associate Director for Health, Office of Management and Budget 

Women have always played vital roles in the presidency, however, this is the first time we’re seeing such a dynamic group of black women openly sharing their experiences as key proponents of the executive branch. Ranging in age from 23 to 60, these women are  role models, history makers, and examples of the “Yes We Can” motto for which the Obama Administration is known.

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Meet these incredible women:

LORETTA LYNCH, 56, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL LORETTA LYNCH, 56, U.S. Attorney General “I want to protect the most vulnerable members of our society and make sure everyone has a voice.”

LORETTA LYNCH, 56, U.S. Attorney General
“I want to protect the most vulnerable members of our society and make sure everyone has a voice.”

ASHLEY TATE-GILMORE, 32, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE TRAVEL OFFICE “I have the chance to connect with Americans overseas who are real-life examples of the work we’re doing.”

ASHLEY TATE-GILMORE, 32, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE TRAVEL OFFICE
“I have the chance to connect with Americans overseas who are real-life examples of the work we’re doing.”

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VALERIE JARRETT, 58, SENIOR ADVISOR TO THE PRESIDENT  “When women succeed, America succeeds.”

DEESHA DYER, 37, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT & SOCIAL SECRETARY “Always be yourself. It sounds cliche?, but as you get older, it becomes clear what being yourself truly means.”

DEESHA DYER, 37, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT & SOCIAL SECRETARY
“Always be yourself. It sounds cliche?, but as you get older, it becomes clear what being yourself truly means.”

ASHLEY ALLISON, 33, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT “The most inspiring moments come in times of quiet reflection on my walk to and from work.”

ASHLEY ALLISON, 33, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT
“The most inspiring moments come in times of quiet reflection on my walk to and from work.”

DOMINIQUE MANN, 24, PRESS ASSISTANT “It hit me that little girls would grow up in a world where seeing a Black world leader was exceptional, but not unattainable.”

DOMINIQUE MANN, 24, PRESS ASSISTANT
“It hit me that little girls would grow up in a world where seeing a Black world leader was exceptional, but not unattainable.”

SUSAN RICE, 51, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR “My parents always taught me to work hard and to never give a halfhearted performance.”

SUSAN RICE, 51, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR
“My parents always taught me to work hard and to never give a halfhearted performance.”

ASHLEY ETIENNE, 37, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT & CABINET COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR “Truth will prevail regardless of the opposition and enormity of the challenge.”

ASHLEY ETIENNE, 37, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT & CABINET COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
“Truth will prevail regardless of the opposition and enormity of the challenge.”

DESIREE BARNES, 27, PRESS ASSISTANT & SENIOR WRANGLER “You may not be your college valedictorian, but being present and contributing will earn you a spot on this team.”

DESIREE BARNES, 27, PRESS ASSISTANT & SENIOR WRANGLER
“You may not be your college valedictorian, but being present and contributing will earn you a spot on this team.”

JORDAN METOYER, 23 ASSISTANT TO THE DEPUTY DIRECTOR AND SENIOR ADVISOR TO THE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT & BUDGET DIRECTOR “Amazing things happen during the fourth quarter.”

JORDAN METOYER, 23 ASSISTANT TO THE DEPUTY DIRECTOR AND SENIOR ADVISOR TO THE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT & BUDGET DIRECTOR
“Amazing things happen during the fourth quarter.”

KALISHA DESSOURCES, 25, STAFF ASSISTANT FOR THE OFFICE OF INTERGOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS “The work we do mobilizing communities is only possible with strong relationships.”

KALISHA DESSOURCES, 25, STAFF ASSISTANT FOR THE OFFICE OF INTERGOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS
“The work we do mobilizing communities is only possible with strong relationships.”

KATHERINE BRANCH, 48, DIRECTOR OF SPECIAL PROJECTS FOR THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT & THE OFFICE OF INTERGOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS “Never take anything for granted.”

KATHERINE BRANCH, 48, DIRECTOR OF SPECIAL PROJECTS FOR THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT & THE OFFICE OF INTERGOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS
“Never take anything for granted.”

KIMBERLYN LEARY, 55, ADVISOR TO THE WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL ON WOMEN AND GIRLS “Despite the demanding schedules, the White House is often peaceful and quiet.”

KIMBERLYN LEARY, 55, ADVISOR TO THE WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL ON WOMEN AND GIRLS
“Despite the demanding schedules, the White House is often peaceful and quiet.”

KRISTIN JONES, 30, SPECIAL ASSISTANT & DIRECTOR OF SPECIAL PROJECTS FOR FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA “A college professor told me, ‘Dream, but don’t sleep.’ ”

KRISTIN JONES, 30, SPECIAL ASSISTANT & DIRECTOR OF SPECIAL PROJECTS FOR FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA
“A college professor told me, ‘Dream, but don’t sleep.’ ”

KRISTINA BROADIE, 27, DEPUTY ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF THE SOCIAL OFFICE “Millennials I work with are committed to the causes of change and progress in their communities.”

KRISTINA BROADIE, 27, DEPUTY ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF THE SOCIAL OFFICE
“Millennials I work with are committed to the causes of change and progress in their communities.”

ANGELLA REID, 55, DIRECTOR OF THE EXECUTIVE RESIDENCE & CHIEF USHER “As a naturalized American, I am moved by the gratitude of people invited to be sworn in as citizens.”

ANGELLA REID, 55, DIRECTOR OF THE EXECUTIVE RESIDENCE & CHIEF USHER
“As a naturalized American, I am moved by the gratitude of people invited to be sworn in as citizens.”

ADDIE WHISENANT, 31, DIRECTOR OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN MEDIA “Enjoy this very special moment, but never lose perspective. It is important to stay focused.”

ADDIE WHISENANT, 31, DIRECTOR OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN MEDIA
“Enjoy this very special moment, but never lose perspective. It is important to stay focused.”

ADRIENNE HARRIS, 34, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR ECONOMIC POLICY “The amount of good a person can do is limited only by her creativity and effort.”

ADRIENNE HARRIS, 34, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR ECONOMIC POLICY
“The amount of good a person can do is limited only by her creativity and effort.”

CRYSTAL CARSON, 26, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR “Keep your head down and work hard. Distractions are endless, but tune them out.”

CRYSTAL CARSON, 26, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
“Keep your head down and work hard. Distractions are endless, but tune them out.”

ASHLEIGH AXIOS, 30, DIGITAL CREATIVE DIRECTOR “My most inspiring moment was watching the faces of dozens of K-12 students light up as their films were screened by the President.”

ASHLEIGH AXIOS, 30, DIGITAL CREATIVE DIRECTOR
“My most inspiring moment was watching the faces of dozens of K‑12 students light up as their films were screened by the President.”

CRYSTAL BROWN, 35, COUNSELOR & SENIOR POLICY ADVISOR TO THE GENERAL COUNSEL, OFFICE OF MANAGE- MENT AND BUDGET “Be open, be flexible and be willing to take a risk.”

CRYSTAL BROWN, 35, COUNSELOR & SENIOR POLICY ADVISOR TO THE GENERAL COUNSEL, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET
“Be open, be flexible and be willing to take a risk.”

CHYNNA CLAYTON, 27, SPECIAL ASSISTANT & TRIP DIRECTOR TO FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA “The White House is composed of people who are passionate about the country.”

CHYNNA CLAYTON, 27, SPECIAL ASSISTANT & TRIP DIRECTOR TO FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA
“The White House is composed of people who are passionate about the country.”

CARRI TWIGG, 29, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT FOR VICE-PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN “I’ve learned to be patient, thorough and deliberate.”

CARRI TWIGG, 29, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT FOR VICE-PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN
“I’ve learned to be patient, thorough and deliberate.”

MONIQUE DORSAINVIL, 29, DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF FOR THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT & THE OFFICE OF INTERGOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS “You don’t need connections to work in this administration."

MONIQUE DORSAINVIL, 29, DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF FOR THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT & THE OFFICE OF INTERGOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS
“You don’t need connections to work in this administration.”

ROCHELLE BOONE BRISCOE, 42, DOMESTIC TEAM LEAD IN THE PRESIDENTIAL PERSONNEL OFFICE “No role has to be perfect; it just has to be perfect for you.”

ROCHELLE BOONE BRISCOE, 42, DOMESTIC TEAM LEAD IN THE PRESIDENTIAL PERSONNEL OFFICE
“No role has to be perfect; it just has to be perfect for you.”

STEPHANIE YOUNG, 31, DIRECTOR OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN OUTREACH FOR THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT “There is always a way to get to yes if you’re creative, prepared and work hard."

STEPHANIE YOUNG, 31, DIRECTOR OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN OUTREACH FOR THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT
“There is always a way to get to yes if you’re creative, prepared and work hard.”

TONYA WILLIAMS, 42, DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS IN THE OFFICE OF VICE-PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN “Never get too comfortable. Always keep your eyes and ears open for new challenges.”

TONYA WILLIAMS, 42, DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS IN THE OFFICE OF VICE-PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN
“Never get too comfortable. Always keep your eyes and ears open for new challenges.”

KAREN EVANS, 27, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR TO THE OFFICE OF CABINET AFFAIRS “Always follow up with people and say thank you! Handwritten notes will get you a long way.”

KAREN EVANS, 27, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR TO THE OFFICE OF CABINET AFFAIRS
“Always follow up with people and say thank you! Handwritten notes will get you a long way.”

To learn more about all 29 of the ladies featured, be sure to pick up the latest copy of Essence at your local newsstands.

Share your thoughts about “The Women of the White House” below!

 

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About Lisa Jean Francois

I'm a Lipstick-obsessed Journalist and Fashion Blogger. You can find me over on my blog or youtube channel swatching lippies and strutting around in 5-inch heels. I'm a also a brand coach, specializing in video marketing and digital brand development. Find me @lisaalamode.

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Saran
Saran
4 years ago

24,27,29 years of age. Wow! these are very good role models for our young girls. better than many celebrities that they look up to if I may say so

Manny
Manny
4 years ago

This is exciting. I wanna buy this issue.

Tiffani Simone
Tiffani Simone
4 years ago

How do these women get there? We often see inspiring women of color doing great things but I always would like to know how they got started, especially as an up and coming millennial trying to walk in their same steps.

Lejon Leonard
Lejon Leonard
4 years ago
Reply to  Tiffani Simone

How these women got there?.…I’m betting they separated themselves from black males,even black men who kindly spoke to them on their voyage to the white house as many black women who are on the road to their careers do,for the record the photos of these women who’s hands are showing don’t have wedding rings on their hands and even if they do they probably married to their almighty master white man.

Proudofmysis
Proudofmysis
4 years ago
Reply to  Tiffani Simone

HI Tiffani! My sister is one of those twenty somethings listed up there. She started in our hometown, volunteering for President Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012. She also worked for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte as well. Afterwards, she applied for this position. It helped that she’d already worked for his campaign, as well as other democratic Senators and institutions. Hope this helps!

Sheyla Gomes Castillo
Sheyla Gomes Castillo
4 years ago

Love it!

thoughtful frau
thoughtful frau
4 years ago

Thanks for the inspiring article!

$8319184
$8319184
4 years ago

it’s great there are so many women of color in the white house. I know it’s not in their job description to be front and centre but I do wish we would see more of them.

Dr. Gloria Willingham-Toure'

These are indeed inspiring women. Their journey is just as important as the positions that they hold and we look forward to spotlighting that journey at every opportunity. Applause to all of you! You are an important part of our nation’s history.

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