Meet The Woman Behind Michelle Obama You've Never Heard Of
Words: Ashley Poag
Kristen Jarvis isn’t a household name, but she was the right-hand woman to one of the most powerful woman in the world for years.
She’s been trusted with everything from arranging childcare for Sasha and Malia Obama to assisting the First Lady of the United States with rehearsing for speeches. But unlike President Obama’s “body man” Reggie Love or senior advisor and close family friend Valerie Jarrett, most people don’t know how important Kristen Jarvis has been to Team FLOTUS.
The Washington Post offered the first glimpse inside Jarvis’ life and time at the White House. (Although she worked with the First Family for seven years as her chief of staff, Jarvis has never done a public interview.)
“We’re just always together,” she told the Post. “Whether it’s talking about work, talking about the girls, my personal life, to brief her for an event, we’re always talking.”
Jarvis graduated from Spelman College as a theater major, a field very different from politics—it was the Obama family who drew her to Washington. Her life has also been touched by incredible tragedy: She lost her brother, mother, and father before turning 30, which led her to have a profound value for family. Some have described her and the First Lady’s relationship as being sisterly, or even mother-daughterly.
“She’s a critical link between the personal and the professional for the First Lady,” said Joshua Dubois, one of Jarvis’ friends and colleagues. “She does her job in a way that the First Lady and President are comfortable with—in a way that feels like home.”
Now that she’s moving on, she’s been seeking advice from the the First Lady about her next step. (We wish we could call FLOTUS up for career advice!) The First Lady “told me not to leave until I found the right fit,” Jarvis said. “She has been a mentor throughout this entire process.”
The right fit happened to be chief of staff to Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation in New York. Her new boss has already received approval from Gayle King, CBS anchor and Oprah’s BFF. “Do you know you’re hiring the most amazing woman as your chief of staff?” she told Warren.
We know of at least one other woman who would agree.
For more on Kristen Jarvis and her relationship with First Lady Michelle Obama, be sure to check out her complete interview with the Washington Post.
Ashley Poag is mater mea's intern and an aspiring multimedia journalist.