At a Glance
- Career History:
White House Social Secretary (February 2010-January 2011); Chief of staff,
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
(January 2009 to February 2010); National finance director, Obama 2008 presidential campaign (2007 to 2008); Finance Director, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (2005 to 2006)
- Hometown: North Carolina
- Alma Mater: Smith College, B.A. (government), 1989
Path to Power
The daughter of a golf pro from North Carolina, Smoot attended Smith College in Northhampton, Mass. She graduated with a degree in government in 1989.
Smoot worked at the American Association for Justice, then called the American Association of Trial Lawyers, which was one of the most influential lobbies in Washington, D.C.
Michelle Obama has a penchant for using unconventional White House events (for instance, the first lady surrounded by school-children planting a White House vegetable garden) to preview or kick-off major policy initiatives (see, the first lady's fight against childhood obesity). Smoot has the challenge of reflecting the first couple's policy initiatives in the social atmosphere of the White House.
When Smoot joined the East Wing staff, the Obamas stressed their commitment to "creating an inclusive, dynamic and culturally vibrant White House." Smoot must plan events both large and small to achieve that goal.
Having spent her career raising funds from the elite, Smoot also knows who's who in Washington, D.C. Her political network is wide, deep and the envy of many in the capital. There's also one very personal connection to the president: Smoot's father, Ed, is a retired golf pro who played with the president during the 2008 campaign. Julianna is better at tennis, however, her dad has quipped.
As White House social secretary, Smoot works closely with First Lady Michelle Obama and her chief of staff, Susan Sher.
Though she worked for the Obama campaign, and donated the maximum amount allowed to his campaign in both 2007 and 2008, Smoot gave $1,000 to his opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton, in August 2008 to help her pay down campaign debt.
Smoot has donated to others she has worked for, including $250 to John Edwards' failed presidential run in 2003, and $300 to Dick Durbin in 2007.