The American people are on a first-name basis with many of the leading ladies of the White House: Ivanka. Melania. Omarosa (until she was fired, kicking and screaming, that is).
But further down the list of well-known women working in the White House Office—past Kellyanne Conway, Hope Hicks, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders (thank you, Aidy Bryant, for making her as recognizable as she is now)—are a number of women who, while they don’t dominate the headlines, wield plenty of power. They're the cogs in the wheels of the domestic policy council, office of communication, office of legislative affairs, and more, writing executive orders, press bulletins, and deciding who gets face time with the leader of the free world.
We suggest getting to know them, since female staffers are far outpacing the men in their tenures.
Senior Communications Strategist
Schlapp, a longtime GOP strategist and conservative commentator, secured a top role in the White House, despite all the talk in 2016 of "draining the swamp." She’s also half of a D.C. power couple: She co-founded a political consulting firm with her husband, Matt Schlapp, who serves as chairman of the American Conservative Union and the yearly Conservative Political Action Conference. Another interesting factoid: Schlapp is a first generation Cuban-American, raised in Florida, whose father was jailed for six years by the Castro regime.
Deputy White House Press Secretary
Walters knows the chaos of the White House well: As part of her current role, she also served as an advisor to Press Secretary Sean Spicer until his abrupt resignation. Now, Walters often leads “press gaggles” on Air Force One. Corralling the press likely comes naturally to her, having spent one year as a spokesperson for the National Republican Committee
Helen Aguirre Ferré
White House Media Affairs Director
Not only is she a journalist—formerly of the Miami Herald and Univision—a profession Trump loves to loathe, but Ferré was also an outspoken critic of his during the campaign, calling Trump “anti-feminine” and saying that he “is trying so hard to win the nomination from conservative voters that he’s trying to say what he thinks the conservative voter wants to hear. And that’s why he ends up messing up, constantly.” She has since purged her Twitter account of such rants. Ferré might seem an unlikely fit for the Trump White House, but she was appointed before the inauguration and is still there, so she’s clearly found a way to make it work.
Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs
Rao is the woman overseeing Trump’s plan to dramatically overhaul the current government rules and regulations. She's no political lightwight: Rao has served in all three branches of the federal government, including as a clerk for SCOTUS justice Clarence Thomas and a member of the George W. Bush White House. She's currently on leave from her job as a law professor at George Mason University, where she lobbied successfully to rename the law school to honor the late, ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia with a multi-million dollar gift bestowed by the Koch Brothers.
White House Domestic Policy Councilmember
She worked on the presidential campaign of Trump's rival Senator Ted Cruz, but that seems to be water under the bridge. Now, the Harvard Law School and Wharton Business School grad focuses on regulatory reform for legal and immigration policy. Bash has thus far made headlines for things unrelated to her work, like her spot on the The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful list and for her high net-worth (in the millions). Soon after taking the White House job, she gave birth to her first child, a daughter, Mabel.
White House Health Care Policy Advisor
Talento's resume makes her an apt choice for her role. She served as legislative director for Republican Senator Thom Tillis and is an infectious disease epidemiologist by training with a degree from the Harvard School of Public Health. But she was a controversial pick: Talento has long expressed deep-seated fears that birth control pills cause abortions. “Is chemical birth control causing miscarriages of already-conceived children?” she wrote in a January 2015 column, in which she continued, “the longer you stay on the Pill, the more likely you are to ruin your uterus for baby-hosting altogether.”
FLOTUS's Chief of Staff
This former third-grade teacher who's also been an event planner is on her second stint in the White House. During the George W. Bush administration, she worked in the White House Visitors Office. And Reynolds has strong ties to a prominent Republican family with deep pockets: Her father-in-law was the national finance chair for Bush's 2004 reelection campaign.
Stephanie Winston Wolkoff
Senior Advisor to FLOTUS
Wolkoff was Melania Trump’s first East Wing hire. Rather than rising in the ranks in D.C. political circles, Wolkoff came up through the fashion industry. She's formerly a special events planner for Vogue and fashion director for Lincoln Center. Wolkoff is a longtime friend of the first lady, reportedly helped plan Trump's inauguration, and was hired before FLOTUS considered a chief of staff or communications director. It helps to be well-connected.
Director of Communications for FLOTUS
Grisham is a testament to loyalty. She worked for the Trump campaign as a traveling press secretary and was part of the transition team before taking the role of Communications Director for the First Lady. The hardest part of the job for her while on the campaign trail? Going five-and-a-half months without seeing her kids.
More on the Anniversary of Trump's Inauguration
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Rebecca Gale is an award-winning journalist covering the nexus of politics and people in Washington, D.C. She is currently a writer with the Better Life Lab at New America. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Roll Call, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, and Health Affairs, among other outlets. Follow her on Twitter @beckgale
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