Stacy Koo, 33
Special Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff for Presidential Personnel, White House
Hometown: Sugar Land, Texas
How did you get here?
It began in college, when I spent a semester studying at American University in Washington, DC, which led to my first internship in politics. I interned for a Presidential campaign, which opened the door to being a volunteer at the Iowa Caucuses. Those experiences led to my first job after graduation, working on Senator Tom Daschle’s campaign in South Dakota. It was a grassroots campaign, which meant knocking door to door and cold calling constituents across the State. After the campaign wrapped up, I packed my bags and moved to Washington, DC in hopes of finding my next job in the political sector. I joined the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and held two positions during my time at the DSCC. The first job was assisting the finance director of the DSCC, which led to my second job there as Special Assistant to Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, who was the chairman of the DSCC during this time. After I left the DSCC, I became a campaign fundraiser for both Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois and Senator Jon Tester of Montana before joining the Democratic National Committee as the Finance Surrogate Director for Senator Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign. After President Obama was elected, I became the Finance Chief of Staff for his Presidential Inaugural Committee and joined his administration in February 2009, working at the United States Trade Representative Office for Ambassador Ron Kirk and Chief of Staff Julianna Smoot. A year later, in 2010, I joined the White House Social Secretary’s Office under First Lady Michelle Obama as Deputy Associate Director. In 2011, I stayed with the administration and moved to President Obama’s Presidential Personnel Office, where I am today, serving as the Special Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff of the department.
Who or what has been the greatest influence on your career?
I have had the good fortune of working with some exceptionally talented people in my career. They have all influenced me in many important ways. I often reflect on how much I learned from Senator Chuck Schumer; at only 23 years old, I was serving as his Special Assistant at the DSCC. But most of all, my former boss and mentor Julianna Smoot (former White House Social Secretary) has made a life changing impact on me. I have worked with her throughout my professional political career in various roles and capacities and it is that valuable time spent with her that has shaped who I am as a professional today. I have witnessed how she manages and values her relationships, demonstrates a diligent work ethic, and her impeccable memory and attention to detail is unparalleled.
My parents are also an influential part of my career. They have always encouraged and supported me and it has made all the difference. At the start of my career, when I moved to South Dakota for my first job after college, it was a family affair. With my parents driving in one car, and my older sister and I in another, we drove from Texas to South Dakota to move me to Brookings, SD for Senator Tom Daschle’s campaign. Before they drove back to Texas, they made sure I had everything I might need since they knew I would be working 7 days a week. When the campaign was over, they drove back to South Dakota to help me pack up and make my move to DC. Even though I didn’t have a job lined up yet, I am so grateful for their support and for also reminding me what’s important in life.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment during the Obama Administration?
One of the initiatives I’m most proud of is creating programs to recognize Presidential appointees for outstanding work and organizing opportunities to invest in talent across the Administration.
Can you describe your time working for the Obama Administration in 10 words?
It is an incredible honor and a dream come true.
Complete the sentence: when I'm not working, I'm ...
When I’m not working, I’m hanging out with my husband Matt and our dog Barky. I enjoy trying new recipes and eating at new restaurants around DC.