Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama Will Address the Wellesley College Class of 2013 on May 31

April 11, 2013

Valerie B. Jarrett, senior advisor to President Barack Obama and chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, will address the Class of 2013 and an international audience of their family and friends at Wellesley College’s 135th Commencement Exercises Friday, May 31, at 10:30 a.m.

Unlike many other colleges and universities, Wellesley’s commencement speaker selection process is driven by the students. The announcement of the 2013 speaker was made at the College’s Senior Soiree, April 10, in keeping with Wellesley tradition. Gabrielle Linnell '13 reported on student reactions to the selection for the Huffington Post.

About Valerie Jarrett

Named “the Other Power in the West Wing,” by The New York Times, Jarrett is widely considered to be one of the most influential women in America. She is also an outspoken advocate for women. When Jarrett spoke at a February 2012 event aimed at increasing women’s political participation, she said, “My parents raised me to believe that if I worked hard and I focused on my goals, there were no limits to what I could accomplish. My responsibility as the chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls is to help ensure that all women and girls have that same opportunity.”

Prior to joining the Obama administration, Jarrett was chief executive officer of The Habitat Company. She also served as co-chair of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team, and senior advisor to Obama's presidential campaign.

Jarrett has held positions in both the public and private sector, including the chairman of the Chicago Transit Board, the commissioner of Planning and Development for the City of Chicago, and deputy chief of staff for Mayor Richard M. Daley. She also practiced law with two private law firms.  

Jarrett has served as a director of corporate and not for profit boards, including chairman of the Board of the Chicago Stock Exchange, director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and chairman of the University of Chicago Medical Center Board of Trustees.

Jarrett received her B.A. from Stanford University in 1978 and her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1981.