Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Woman Who Runs the White House

If you think that Michelle Obama runs the White House, you are wrong. That responsibility falls to Angella Reid, the White House Chief Usher who spent thirty years in the hospitality industry.

Jamaican born Reid was appointed on October 5, 2011, taking the helm from Rear Admiral Stephen Rochon who was the first Black person to hold the position. She is the ninth person to serve as Chief Usher and the first woman in the job. Mind you Reid is not the butler. She manages the day-to-day operations at the White House, with its 132 rooms, $13 million dollar budget and 90+ staff ranging from plumbers and electricians to butlers and cooks. She oversees operations, maintenance, and utilities and works with the White House Social Security on ceremonial events of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Her job is to run a tight ship. If the President needs her, she's on it. If Mrs. Obama want an environmentally-friendly, American-made swing set for Sasha and Malia, she'll test he equipment on her behalf. When the Obamas host a dinner, she's there. When the Obamas say they want to make the White House more accessible to the public, she's on it.  She caters from A-list guests at state dinners to schools kids at an Easter egg roll on the White House lawn. In recognition to the expansive responsibilities of the position, the usher's title has been expanded to include "director of the President's executive residence".

Reid came to the White House from her position as general manager of Ritz-Carleton Pentagon City in Virginia, just across the river from her new job. Her career path has taken her from a middle-class upbringing in Jamaica to Washington, New York, Connecticut and Miami, and now back to Washington. Along the way, she's learned to work with all kinds of egos at the conference table, a skill that will be crucial in dealing with all the big names – and heads – that can pass through the White House.

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