Tina Tchen, 60
Assistant to the President, Chief of Staff to the First Lady, and Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
How did you get here?
I was a lawyer practicing law in Chicago, spending 23 years at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. So coming to Washington, DC was not something I expected or sought. But I have known the President and First Lady for many years, and was active in his campaigns, including the 2008 Presidential Campaign as a volunteer, and when I was asked to move and join the Administration as the director of the Office of Public Engagement (which was known back then as the Office of the Public Liaison), I couldn't say no. As part of my role running OPE and working with Valerie Jarrett, we worked on the Executive Order signed by the President in March 2009 that created the White House Council on Women and Girls, which Valerie chairs, and I am the Executive Director. I continued that role when I moved from OPE in January 2011 to become the First Lady's Chief of Staff.
Who or what has been the greatest influence on your career?
I have been fortunate to have many people along the way, starting with my parents, who have believed in me and who encouraged me to reach as high as I could. In thinking about what has been the greatest influence, I think my legal career and training has been the defining influence, which continues to shape how I approach issues, manage staff and solve problems in the White House as well.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment during the Obama administration?
This is very hard to answer, as it's impossible to isolate a single greatest accomplishment, and none of the accomplishments are "mine" - everything is a true team effort in an enterprise as large as the Administration. Certainly the initiatives the First Lady has taken on and what we have been able to achieve through Let's Move, Joining Forces, Reach Higher and Let Girls Learn, have been amazing - three of those initiatives started after I joined the First Lady's team. We've also worked hard through the Council on Women and Girls to execute the challenge the President made when he created the Council to infuse every White House office and every part of the federal government with the mandate to think about the impact on women and girls in everything the federal government does - I think we have succeeded, as you can see from the wide range of achievements, from health care to working families to violence against women, to women small business owners, to women in the military and in the STEM fields.
Can you describe your time working for the Obama administration in 10 words?
Best opportunity to contribute to positive change in the world.
Complete the sentence: "When I'm not working, I..."
I confess when I'm not working, I am catching up on the latest TV and streaming shows!