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Michelle Obama's Chief-of-Staff Shake-Up

5 years ago
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First Lady Michelle Obama elevated Chicago pal Susan Sher to be her new chief of staff in a shake-up that sent her original pick for the job out of the East Wing.

Mrs. Obama left Sher behind as she jetted to France on Friday morning to participate with President Obama in marking the 65th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy on Saturday. After that, as first reported at, Mrs. Obama heads to Paris to vacation with her daughters, who both have birthdays coming up. Sasha will be eight on Wednesday and Malia turns 11 on July 4.

This now means that Mrs. Obama's two top East Wing staffers -- Sher and White House House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers -- are drawn from her Chicago crew.

Sher replaced Jackie Norris, who moves on to become Senior Advisor to the Corporation for National and Community Service. Mrs. Obama and Iowan Norris got to know each other during the months leading up to the Iowa caucus.

Then-Sen. Barack Obama's Iowa victory was crucial to his winning the Democratic presidential nomination. Norris's husband John is chief of staff to U.S Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa governor.

"Jackie Norris has been a colleague and friend since the earliest days of the Iowa campaign," Mrs. Obama said in a statement.

"She has built a strong organization in the East Wing and made tremendous progress on issues that are important to me and the President, particularly in the area of national service. In assuming the role as Senior Advisor to the Corporation for National and Community Service, Jackie will work closely with my office and the Administration as we move forward to implement the new Serve America Act and we will continue to count on Jackie's leadership and passion for this cause."

Sher already was at the White House as Associate Counsel to the President, straddling the East and West Wings as an advisor to Mrs. Obama, working on health care issues, and as the White House liaison to the Jewish community.

Mrs. Obama said in a statement, "Susan Sher is a trusted advisor, longtime mentor and friend dating back to my work at the City of Chicago and later the University of Chicago."

Sher is Mrs. Obama's former boss; she was the Vice President for Legal and Governmental Affairs and General Counsel at the University of Chicago Medical Center, where Mrs. Obama was an executive.

She plays an important role in Mrs. Obama's storyline. Between 1993 and 1997, Sher was the Corporation Counsel at Mayor Daley's City Hall. While there, she passed the resume of one Michelle Robinson to her co-worker, Valerie Jarrett, who was then Daley's Deputy Chief of Staff and now is a top White House advisor.

Mrs. Obama told Jarrett her then fiancé -- Barack Obama -- needed to check her out before she would take the City Hall job Jarrett was offering. They all went out to dinner and the rest is history.

In Washington, the Chicago transplants -- Sher, Jarrett and Rogers -- all live in the same Georgetown building.

Tuesday Update: Sasha's birthday corrected. First Lady spokesman Semonti Mustaphi said Sasha's birthday is June 10.
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