White House has a new social secretary – and it’s a man

February 25, 2011


President Barack Obama’s White House has named its third social secretary in just over two years and made history. It’s the first man  ever to fill the position in the 110 years it has existed.

Jeremy Bernard, who is now based in Paris as a senior advisor to the U.S. ambassador in France,  was named to replace Julianna Smoot as social secretary, the person responsible for organizing social events at the White House as small as a tea with first lady Michelle Obama or as large and elaborate as a state dinner for the president of China.

Smoot, who left to join Obama’s re-election operation, had replaced the administration’s first social secretary, Desiree Rogers, who held the post when a couple participating in a reality television show crashed a state dinner in November 2009.  Rogers’ appointment had also made history — she was the first African-American to fill that position.

“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,” President Barack Obama said in an e-mailed statement.

A native of Texas, Bernard has also been a member of the Democratic National Committee. He also has served as White House liaison to the National Endowment for the Humanities.

With a long history working on gay rights issues, Bernard also will be the first openly gay person to serve as White House social secretary. He was a member of  the board of A.N.G.L.E. (Access Now for Gay & Lesbian Equality) and the National Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.

The first White House social secretary, Isabella Hagner James, was appointed by Edith Roosevelt, wife of President Theodore Roosevelt, in 1901.

Picture credit: REUTERS/Jim Young

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