Path to Power
Born in 1959, Berry grew up near the nation's capital, in Rockville, Md. He said his parents instilled in him and his siblings an appreciation for public service from a young age.
Berry's father served in World War II and was a member of the first Marine division to go ashore in the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Pacific theater. An uncle for whom Berry was named was fatally shot down in the war. Later, when Berry was a child, he recalled how his family would make the short drive from Maryland to Washington, D.C., and as they passed the imposing and distinctive federal buildings, his father would say, "Kids, people in these buildings are serving our country."
Berry has had in some sense a dual role in the Obama administration - he is both the official head of the federal workforce, and he is the most prominent and highest-ranked openly gay appointee in the administration.
He has used that distinction to support new policies affecting gay federal employees and to occasionally serve as an unofficial spokesman for the administration on gay issues, such as when he delivered a well-received speech to the Justice Department's annual Pride Awards in June 2009.
Berry's closest ally throughout his long Washington career has been his former boss and the current House majority leader, Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.). Hoyer has vouched for him in newspaper profiles and testified on his behalf during his Senate confirmation hearing.