Valerie B. Jarrett
- 1 Family
- 2 Education
- 3 Working for Harold Washington
- 4 Business Career
- 5 Advocacy
- 6 Hiring Michelle
- 7 Finance responsibilities
- 8 Friendship with Marilyn Katz
- 9 Election Campaigns
- 10 "Progressive" Cabinet "nominee"
- 11 Adviser to President Obama
- 12 Did Valerie Jarrett help recruit Van Jones?
- 13 Women Deliver conference
- 14 External links
- 15 References
Valerie Bowman Jarrett (born November 14, 1956) is a senior advisor to U.S. president Barack Obama. She is Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement, and Chairs the White House Commission on Women and Girls. Prior to her current position, she served as Co-Chair of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team, and Senior Advisor to Obama's presidential campaign. She was also a Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
Valerie Jarrett was born in Shiraz, Iran to American parents, James E. Bowman and Barbara Taylor Bowman. She spent the first five years of her life in Iran before her family moved to London. Following a year in London, the family moved to Chicago’s elite neighborhood, Hyde Park.
The Jarretts and the Bowmans were family friends.
Her maternal grandfather was Robert Taylor, the first black chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority.
Jarrett received her B.A. from Stanford University in 1978 and her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1981. Chicago-based journalist Lynn Sweet reported, “In the manner of privileged Hyde Park-Kenwood children from smart families, Jarrett went to the exclusive University of Chicago Lab School before transferring to her mother’s alma mater, Northfield Mt. Hermon, in western Massachusetts for the last two years of high school.”
Working for Harold Washington
After graduating from the University of Michigan Law School, she went to work for Chicago’s first African-American mayor, Harold Washington, whose election many Sixties radicals attributed to themselves. After Washington’s death in 1987, she stayed on under his successor, Richard Daley. In City Hall, she and her colleague Susan Sher recruited Michelle Robinson, then engaged to Barack Obama, and Jarrett quickly melded her way into their lives.
Jarrett became the President and Chief Executive Officer of The Habitat Company on January 31, 2007. She had served as Executive Vice President of Habitat for 12 years. Prior to that, Jarrett served for eight years in Chicago government as Deputy Corporation Counsel for Finance and Development, Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Richard M. Daley, and Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development. Before her city government service, Ms. Jarrett practiced law with two private law firms. From 1995 to 2003, Jarrett served as Chairman of the Chicago Transit Board. Jarrett also served as Chairman of the Board of the Chicago Stock Exchange from April 2004 through April 2007. She was a Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago from January 2006 through April 2007.
Jarrett is the chief executive of The Habitat Company which managed Grove Parc Plaza from 2001 until this winter and co-managed an even larger subsidized complex in Chicago that was seized by the federal government in 2006, after city inspectors found widespread problems. Officials at Woodlawn Preservation say the government didn't give them enough money to properly maintain Grove Parc. Habitat's Jarrett declined to comment on Grove Parc in particular but said it is hard to manage something you don't own. However other Chicago developers and housing activists said that federal subsidies can be adequate if managed properly. They said Grove Parc stood apart for how badly it fell into disrepair.
Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Jarrett served as a Director of corporate and not for profit boards, including Chairman of the University of Chicago Medical Center Board of Trustees, and Vice Chair of the University of Chicago Board of Trustees. She was a Director of the Local Initiative Support Corporation, The Joyce Foundation, and a Trustee of the Museum of Science and Industry.
A former Deputy Corporation Counsel for Finance and Development under Harold Washington, Jarrett continued to work in the mayor's office into the 1990s.
Valerie Jarrett ran the finances for Obama’s 2004 Senate bid and served as treasurer of Obama's HOPEFUND.
Friendship with Marilyn Katz
Jarrett served as Finance Chair for President Obama's 2004 run for the U.S. Senate.
"Progressive" Cabinet "nominee"
- We asked that contributors weigh ideological and political considerations, with an eye toward recommending people who have both progressive credentials and at least an arguable chance at being appointed in an Obama White House.
- This group of people would represent at once the most progressive, aggressive and practical Cabinet in contemporary history. Of course, it is by no means a definitive list. It is merely one proposal aimed at starting a longer discussion about the very concept of a progressive Cabinet—and why it will be important to a new administration, especially if that administration is serious about change.
- Valerie Jarrett’s blue-ribbon résumé delivers a potent blend of corporate, government and civic “street cred.”
- Jarrett, 51, is CEO of the Habitat Co. — a clout-heavy Chicago real estate firm — and the court-appointed overseer of the city’s massive plan to transform its notoriously decrepit public housing developments.
- A lawyer by trade, Jarrett has served as Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley’s deputy chief of staff and planning commissioner, and has chaired the boards of the Chicago Transit Authority and Chicago Stock Exchange.
- In 1991, Jarrett recruited Obama’s then-fiancée Michelle Robinson, for a job in Daley’s office. But first Jarrett had to pass muster with Obama. They sealed the deal over dinner, and today, Jarrett is a tight family friend and indispensable Obama confidante.
- She’s well prepared for the treacheries of the Washington Beltway. Jarrett has stood down an array of Chicago characters, like cranky transit riders, vociferous public housing activists and mendacious aldermen. Friend and foe consider her a no-nonsense, astute operative.
- The first woman at Housing and Urban Development’s helm will need to navigate multiple threats to the American Dream of home ownership: the subprime loan debacle, an affordable-housing crisis and skyrocketing foreclosures, to name a few. Whatever her prescriptions, she’ll have the president’s ear.
- Then again, Jarrett — who has been called “the other side of Obama’s brain” — may be better suited for a Karl Rove-ian role in the White House.
Adviser to President Obama
In an article in The Huffington Post on Sept. 21, 2007, reporter Lynn Sweet wrote about Valerie Jarrett's influence on the then Senator, Barack Obama:
- "She’s always been the other side of Barack’s brain.” That’s how an Obama insider described Valerie Jarrett as an Obama campaign aide announced Thursday night the former CTA chief and current Habitat Co. CEO is taking on a larger role to help her close friend win his White House bid.
- The development comes as Jarrett, a charter member of Sen. Barack Obama’s kitchen cabinet, has been formalizing her portfolio and stepping up the pace within the past few weeks as a top advisor within the campaign.
- Jarrett has a close, long relationship with both Barack and Michelle Obama. Like the Obamas, Jarrett is a South Sider with deep ties to the University of Chicago.
- Though she will be part-time, Jarrett will be one of the most visible and powerful African-Americans in the top rungs of the Obama operation..."
In an article by Robert Draper published on July 21, 2009 in the New York Times, Obama stated that he considered Jarrett as family, that she was like a sibbling to him, and that he trusted her completely. He further stated that he trusted Jarrett to speak for him, particularly when dealing with delicate issues, and runs every decision past her.
Did Valerie Jarrett help recruit Van Jones?
Valerie Jarrett talked about Obama Green Jobs Czar Van Jones at the Netroots Nation Convention on August 12, 2009 . She was highly complimentary and stated "we were so delighted to be able recruit him into the White house" and "we've been watching him...for as long as he's been active out in Oakland".
Women Deliver conference
Helen Clark speaks with Arianna Huffington (founder of the Huffington Post), Ashley Judd (actor and activist), Michelle Bachelet (former President of Chile) and Valerie Jarrett (Advisor to President Obama) at the Women Deliver conference in Washington, DC, June 7, 2010.
- White House website: Valerie Jarrett biography
- List of directors, including Jarrett's replacement, at The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
- The Daily Beast: Ms. Jarrett Goes To Washington, Nov. 24, 2008
- Boston Globe: Grim proving ground for Obama's housing policy, June 27, 2008
- In These Times, 22 to KnowOur Picks for an Obama Cabinet, By In These Times Editors and Contributors, September 26, 2008
- The Huffington Post, Valerie Jarrett Steps Up Role in Obama Campaign, Sept. 21, 2007
- New York Times: The Ultimate Obama Insider, July 21, 2009