Office of the First Lady of the United States

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The Office of the First Lady of the United States is accountable to the First Lady of the United States for her to carry out her duties as hostess of the White House, and is also in charge of all social and ceremonial events of the White House. The First Lady has her own staff that includes the White House Social Secretary, a Chief of Staff, Press Secretary, Chief Floral Designer, Executive Chef, etc. The Office of the First Lady is an entity of the White House Office, part of the Executive Office of the President.[1]


First Lady Caroline Harrison could be widely considered to be the first First Lady to have a staff, whose niece served as social secretary. Florence Harding had a "funded staff", a social secretary and an assistant. Grace Coolidge had a social secretary, Polly Randolph.

Eleanor Roosevelt had a staff of only two, her personal secretary and aide Malvina Thompson, and social secretary Edith Helm; at first, the three of them had a second-floor office in the Mansion, but later initiated the use of a first lady's office in the newly constructed East Wing. Bess Truman had a personal secretary and used Mrs. Roosevelt's former White House sitting room while two other secretaries, plus the White House Military Aide, were located in the East Wing. Mamie Eisenhower had Mrs. Roosevelt's old desk placed in her bedroom. Mamie's social secretary headed a small staff in the East Wing. Jackie Kennedy had a staff of 40 in the East Wing, directed by the social secretary; her unofficial office was the Treaty Room on the second floor of the Mansion. Lady Bird Johnson and Pat Nixon both used a sitting room/dressing room adjacent to the bedroom as their offices; their staffs (approximately 30)[2] were in the East Wing. Betty Ford used the Treaty Room as her office and also had a desk in her sitting room.

Rosalynn Carter broke tradition and set up an office for herself in the East Wing, and for the first time it was formally called "Office of the First Lady." Her principal assistant was the first to hold a separately identified position with the title "chief of staff to the first lady." Nancy Reagan moved her office back into the center of the second floor of the Mansion, though her staff remained in the East Wing; she benefited from the 1978 statute Pub.L. 95–570 which authorizes "assistance and services . . . to be provided to the spouse of the President in connection with assistance provided by such spouse to the President in the discharge of the President’s duties and responsibilities."

Hillary Clinton broke tradition even further: the President gave her an office on the second floor of the West Wing itself; her staff of 20 (plus another 15 interns and volunteers) was divided between a suite in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and the traditional locus of the East Wing.

First Lady Laura Bush had her office in the East Wing, and delivered the President's radio address to the nation on November 17, 2001. She had a staff of at least 24. [3] She undertook many foreign trips on her own, meeting and talking with several foreign chiefs of state.[4]

Key staff, current (Michelle Obama)

  • Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady: Tina Tchen
    • Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the First Lady: Melissa Winter[5]
    • Special Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the First Lady: Maria Cristina “MC” González Noguera [6]
    • Special Assistant to the President and Director of Strategic Planning for the First Lady: MacKenzie Smith
    • Special Assistant and Director of Special Projects for the First Lady: Kristin Jones
    • Special Assistant to the President and White House Social Secretary: Deesha Dyer
      • Deputy Social Secretary: Lauren Kelly


  1. "Executive Office of the President". United States Government. Retrieved 2009-06-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "FactCheck's analysis of staff size claims". 2010-10-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Snope's analysis of staff size claims". Snopes. 2009-10-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "First Lady's Office". White House Museum. Retrieved 2009-06-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "President-elect Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama announce more key White House staff" (Press release). Office of the President-Elect. 2008-11-24. Retrieved 2009-06-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. [1]