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Spelman Messenger Fantastic Four

The Spelman Messenger Features Alumnae Under 40

Fierce and Fabulous Spelman Women

Spelman women are leaders, women of influence, innovators and problem solvers. Here is just a sampling of stories about alumnae under 40 who have effectively made changes in their fields, in their communities and around the world. 

*This is just an excerpt from the list which originally appeared in the fall edition of the Messenger magazine. Additional alumnae profiles listed in the publication will be added the week of Dec. 3. 

Kristen Jarvis: From the White House to the Ford Foundation

Kristen jarvis 2At just 34, Kristen Jarvis, C' 03, has worked for individuals that we have all dreamed of meeting. Currently, Jarvis is the chief of staff to Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. Working under Walker, Jarvis is responsible for assisting in the advancement of the Foundation. She supports Walker in all of his duties and ensures the proper execution of the assigned agenda's. These tasks, are very familiar to Jarvis.

Not long ago, she was 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 put 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,” Jarvis once told a Newsweek reporter in 2009. “You’re on call.” Her influence would span the East and West Wings. Some of the young professionals who have worked and currently work in the administration were hired by  Jarvis during her time in Obama’s Senate office. The list includes Joshua DuBois, former executive director of the White House faith office, former health reform director Jeanne Lambrew; and formally known as the political director, but currently serving as an ambassador to South Africa, Patrick Gaspard – to name a few. 

Before she landed her role supporting first lady Mrs. Obama, Jarvis spent time as a special assistant to the chief of staff and as deputy chief of staffKristen Jarvis to Senator Barack Obama from 2004 to 2007. Prior to working for Senator Obama, she also served as a staffer for former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. 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, 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.” 

Prior to joining the Obama administration, Jarvis already had 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, Jarvis has shared intimate moments with the first family and the first lady as a critical aide.

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