Alumnae: Alumnae Profiles

Alumnae Profiles: Kristen Jarvis C'2003

Kristen Jarvis is to first lady Michelle Obama what a  GPS system is for those who have them – an excellent  navigator. As a special assistant for scheduling and a  traveling aide for Mrs. Obama, she puts in many miles handling important details  – from trips abroad with special  guests such as Oprah Winfrey to swank state dinners. “There’s  no time to get sick,” Ms. Jarvis told a Newsweek reporter in 2009. “You’re on call.” Her influence spans the East and West  Wings. Some of the young professionals working in the  administration were hired by Ms. Jarvis during her time in  Obama’s Senate office. The list includes Joshua DuBois,  current executive director of the White House faith office, health reform director Jeanne Lambrew and political director Patrick Gaspard – to name a few. 

Before she landed in her current role supporting first lady Mrs.  Obama, Ms. Jarvis spent time as a special assistant to the  chief of staff and as deputy chief of staff to Senator Barack  Obama from 2004 to 2007. She has also served as a staffer for former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle prior to working for Senator Obama. During the campaign, she served as a scheduler in Nevada and on the press advance team, and then worked with Mrs. Obama during the general election. Mike Strautmanis, Ms. Jarvis’ former supervisor in Obama’s senate office, commented in an article: “I worried a lot about the first lady as the campaign continued and all of our lives changed. I wanted her to be around people who would take care of her; and I knew Kristen would take care of her.” He added, “She has a maturity that is uncommon not only for someone of her age but for anyone.” 

Not quite 30, Ms. Jarvis already has an impressive career in politics and governmental service. As a young African American woman she has achieved more in her short years than some will in a lifetime. From the trip to Copenhagen to make the case for Chicago hosting the 2016 Olympics to the first family trip to Ghana to the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Ms. Jarvis has shared intimate moments with the first family and the first lady as a critical aide.

She described an election night experience to a reporter, who recorded it as follows: “When we got to the
hotel, I think they had just called Virginia. Right after [Obama] gave the speech. I said ‘Congratulations, Senator,’ and I stopped because I was wrong. I looked back, and then he gave me a look like, “Wow, I am the president.”

*This article can be found in the fall 2010 edition of the Spelman Messenger*