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On the night before President Obama's historic health care bill passed the Congress in March 2010, Valerie Jarrett got a call from one of her senior advisers inviting her to a party in the president's private quarters. 

jarrett.jpg
Michael Cohea
Valerie Jarrett has been an Obama confidante since 1991.
Jarrett, who is one of Obama's three senior advisers as well as the head of the federal government's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, changed out of her pajamas and headed for the White House. "The president invited everyone from the junior-most person to the vice president," says Jarrett.

As the evening waned, Jarrett asked the president, "How does this compare to election night?" Obama replied, "There's no comparison. Election night simply created the possibility for change. Tonight, we created change."

Jarrett spoke at Brown in April as part of the Doherty-Granoff Forum on Women Leaders. She offered behind-the-scenes glimpses of the various administrations she has worked for, from Chicago mayors Harold Washington and Richard Daley to today's White House occupant. When she met Obama in 1991 he was still an unknown, but she helped with his campaigns for the U.S. Senate and the presidency. Along the way, she also ran a real estate company and chaired the Chicago Stock Exchange.

Jarrett began her career as a corporate lawyer in Chicago in the 1980s. One day she found herself sobbing in her office on the seventy-ninth floor of the Sears Tower because she'd just realized she'd chosen the wrong career.

"I promise you that if I had stayed in that law firm in that pretty office, you would not have invited me here today," she said. Her next office, under Harold Washington, was in a cubicle facing an alley—a more satisfying fit.

Jarrett quickly became one of the Windy City's movers and shakers. Still, she managed to keep a balance between work and family. Once, she repeatedly checked her watch during a Halloween meeting with Mayor Daley, "who you might have heard can be a little intimidating," Jarrett said. He asked why, and Jarrett admitted that her daughter's parade was about to begin. "Well, what are you doing here?" Daley asked.

Her daughter still remembers that she showed up in time.





Comments (1)
05/28/11
 
As a physician, I think it's great that OBama and Jarrett have acheived a health care reform bill. I am hopeful that it does in fact create successful change. Among my colleauges and patients in Michigan and Massachussets however.....it is currently being viewed as a change of doom and failure. 
Can it be rescued? Here's my big question.....why do we continue to allow the health insurance industry to be a for profit industry? OBama is trying to force a collaborative effort between what the government should be able to do for it's people with an industry focused on making money for business executives. Huge mismatch.....it will likely never work. Maybe the next big change that we can count on should be a government sanction that health care should not be a for profit business.?????
 
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