Personnel chief John Berry on the commencement circuit

The University of Maryland has snagged John Berry, the federal government’s personnel chief and highest-ranking openly gay presidential appointee, as this year’s commencement speaker.

Berry’s May 20 address at U-Md. is one of six graduation speeches the director of the Office of Personnel Management is scheduled to give this season, starting Friday.


Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry. (Mark Gail/THE WASHINGTON POST)

His selection as commencement speaker was first reported by The Diamondback, the University of Maryland student newspaper.

Berry also will address graduates of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University on Friday; Southern Illinois College on May 11; the University of California at Fullerton on May 19; the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at Ohio State University on June 9, and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University on June 19.

Berry has led discussions with college students on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues and contributed to the “It Gets Better” project, an online collection of videos designed to prevent suicides among LBGT youth. In 2010 he recorded his own message.

Berry graduated from the University of Maryland in 1980 with a degree in government and politics. His long federal career has included appointments as an assistant secretary at the Interior Department during the Clinton administration, director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and director of the National Zoo. He was confirmed as OPM chief in 2009.

Lisa Rein covers the federal workforce and issues that concern the management of government.

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