On Inclusion, Transparency, and Corruption - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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Valerie Jarrett, co-chairwoman of President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team and assistant to the president for intergovernmental relations and public liaison, took a moment to talk with BlackEnterprise.com about how the transition is faring and how she personally plans to execute her job.

What do you plan to do to make government transparency a reality in this administration?

In the course of our transition we have reached out in an unprecedented way to include people from all around the country in preparing for the transition. My office has reached out to a wide range of constituency organizations as well as state and local elected officials to seek their input on how our offices could better serve the people of America. That has never been done before. Group after group have said that they can’t believe that they have been invited to participate before the president-elect has even taken office.

Can you give me an example of one of the groups you have reached out to?

We had a meeting a couple of weeks ago where more than 2,000 community organizers from the group Realizing the Promise came to Washington D.C. and had a series of policy discussions with our transition team around the issues that are important to their group at the local level. The same day I spoke with a consortium of foundations, a couple hundred people who are the leaders of foundations throughout the country, to figure out ways that we can make sure that the philanthropic community is coordinating at the federal level so that dollars can be best leveraged. Those are just two examples on one day of where we touched more than 2,000 people.

We aired the meeting with the 2,000 people online. That is something that we will be continuing to do in the administration, to have town hall meetings available online so that the people who can’t come to Washington or who aren’t physically able to participate in our sessions can view them. We are reinforcing our open and transparent approach.

Has it been complicated serving as the co-chairwoman of the transition team and preparing for your new position as assistant to the president for intergovernmental relations and public liaison?

Complicated? No. Challenging in terms of sleep? Yes. We are all working really hard, but the stakes are high. Our challenges are enormous, but our opportunities are endless. We have a transition office in Chicago and Washington, and I go back and forth every week. What is palpable in both offices is this energy and enthusiasm and excitement about the possibilities that lie ahead.

I think already President-elect Obama has assembled in record speed an extraordinary cabinet full of diverse and rich ideas. He has had a series of meetings focusing on the economy and national security, two key issues that are important to the nation. There is a steady flow of announcements each day in the course of this transition, each one sending a strong

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.

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