as opposed to consumers. That is really different for me, and I will need to think differently about how I work. I really am representing the American people.
It is similar in that part of the work will involve building relationships and creating environments where people will develop relationships. Hopefully the social activities I develop will help people think about the world in a different way.
Will event planning for an African American first family differ from that of previous administrations?
I think we are who we are. That is not going to change. I don’t know that it will change because we are one color or the next. Our sensitivities will be different. We want to make sure there is good representation of all Americans in the White House.
Do you imagine that you will have an opportunity to put a new face on the position of White House social secretary?
I think so. People have said my background is very different for this position. I think it shows that the first family is really thinking of this position in a strategic way and an integrated way. Otherwise they probably wouldn’t have picked someone with my credentials. From the start, I am different. My background is different from the type of person who is generally chosen as the social secretary. The work I’ve done is different. I look different. I am the first African American to hold the position.
How do you feel being the first African American in this post, and what aspect of this job excites you the most?
Thrilled! I’m just thrilled! The possibility of being a part of this new era and this new ‘I can’ attitude is extremely exciting to me. Also being able to work with the president-elect and the first lady—individuals that I’ve known for 20 years—is a pleasure. I like that I can integrate my former business position with my new government position, while giving back and trying to inspire at the same time.
We’re going to have to take this administration in pieces, but I like to think of the things that we want to accomplish in year one. I want to really focus on the first year and think about ways to get things done. There is not just one way to get something done. I have asked myself, ‘How do you create extensions beyond the White House?’ It’s not just one event, one time. How do you keep it going? How do you have the right people on your team and provide balance for them and their families once they leave the White House. I will be working with Michelle and her staff to make sure that we will have as much success as we can have in trying to accomplish those goals.