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White House Taps Gay Man, Jeremy Bernard, for New Social Secretary

4 years ago
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The new White House social secretary is Jeremy Bernard -- the first man and first openly gay person -- tapped for the job. He will replace Julianna Smoot, who is leaving to become the deputy manager of President Obama's 2012 reelection campaign.

Smoot's departure has been known for weeks; she stayed around for the big National Governors Association dinner on Sunday.

Bernard, 49, is the Obama administration's third social secretary. Smoot -- who was finance director of the Obama 2008 presidential campaign -- was the second. The first social secretary was Desiree Rogers, who was also the first African-American in that role. Rogers left in the wake of a flap over Tareq and Michaele Salahi, accused of crashing the Obama's first State dinner in 2009. She is now back in Chicago, a top executive at Johnson Publications.

The Washington Post is reporting that Bernard was a major Obama fundraiser whose former partner, Rufus Gifford, is currently the Democratic National Committee finance director. The White House East Wing confirmed to Politics Daily that Bernard and Gifford were business partners in a political fund-raising and consulting firm. Though the DNC has not made it official, Politics Daily has reported that Gifford will lead the fundraising efforts for the Obama 2012 reelection campaign.

Bernard at present is a Senior Advisor to the U.S. French Ambassador in Paris. Before that, he was the White House Liaison to the National Endowment for the Humanities from 2008 to 2010. He has been a regular White House visitor and on Oct. 1, according to White House visitor records, Bernard met with Smoot.

From the White House: "(Jeremy Bernard) joins the White House staff from the U.S. Embassy in Paris, where he serves as Senior Advisor to the Ambassador. Prior to this role, he worked as the White House Liaison to the National Endowment for the Humanities.

"Jeremy shares our vision for the White House as the People's House, one that celebrates our history and culture in dynamic and inclusive ways. We look forward to Jeremy continuing to showcase America's arts and culture to our nation and the world through the many events at the White House," the president said.

"Bernard said he was "deeply humbled to join the White House staff as social secretary and support President Obama and the First Lady in this role. I have long admired the arts and education programs that have become hallmarks of the Obama White House and I am eager to continue these efforts in the years ahead."

"Tina Tchen, chief of staff to First Lady Obama, said she looks forward to working with Bernard on a wide range of White House activities, "from fun and educational student workshops to elegant State dinners that welcome world leaders to the White House. Jeremy's creativity, perspective and skills will be a welcome addition to our East Wing team. . . "

"Bernard's "humor, good will and high standard of professionalism" set him apart at his job at the National Endowment for the Humanities, said NEH Chairman Jim Leach.

Bernard's biography, from the White House: "A native of San Antonio, Texas, Bernard currently serves as Senior Advisor to the Ambassador at the U.S. Embassy of Paris. He served as the White House Liaison to the National Endowment for the Humanities from 2008 to 2010.

"Previously, Bernard was a California Finance Consultant for the Obama for American campaign. He was a Principal of B&G Associates from 2007 to 2009, Vice-President of Mapleton Investments from 1999 to 2006 and Director of Government Affairs of Falcon Cable TV from 1996 to 2006.

"Appointed by President Clinton, Bernard served on the President's Advisory Committee on the Arts for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and was a member of the Democratic National Committee from 2001 to 2009.

"He previously served as a board member of A.N.G.L.E. (Access Now for Gay & Lesbian Equality) and the National Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. He was also a member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's LGBT Advisory Committee, the Los Angeles Police LGBT Advisory Committee and the Los Angeles Mayor's LGBT Advisory Committee."

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