Michele Flournoy, the undersecretary of defense for policy, is the subject of a Washington Post Style piece in Monday’s editions that notes her perch as the most-senior woman in Defense Department history.


Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary W. Scott Gould (Department of Veterans Affairs)

But she also holds another notable distinction as a member of the most senior husband and wife team serving in the Obama administration.

Flournoy’s husband, W. Scott Gould, serves as deputy secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs with responsibility for day-to-day operations. Last year The Federal Eye spoke with Gould about the VA’s hiring plans and also asked him about the couple’s work-life balance.

Question: You’re married to Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy. What’s it like being one of Washington’s power couples, at least in title and rank?

Gould: Thank you for that qualifier. We tend to ignore that as much as possible. It’s wonderful from a personal side to see her fulfilled and doing what she’s prepared all her life to do. It’s just a wonderful thing. I think she feels the same way about me. And together, very early in the morning, two cars pull up to the house and we each say our goodbyes and make sure the lunchboxes are packed and the kids are out the door.

We tend to come home kind of late — 7 or 8 at night. Both my secretary [VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki] and [then-Defense] Secretary [Robert] Gates have been great about trying to approach this in a way that allows us to spend time with our family and still get the job done.

How do you two defrag from it all? Do you bring work home and talk about it or do you try to find something other than work to talk about it?

You know, probably one of the most interesting conversations in my day is right after dinner, when the kids are all assigned to get their homework done, the TV is off and I get about 20 minutes with Michele over dessert and coffee. We talk about the day’s events, and about leadership and about politics and — it’s a sense of kind of sharing how to navigate in Washington and how to do good and how to fulfill your dream with a partner who each day is learning as much as I am in my job about how to do that.

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Further reading:

Michele Flournoy, Pentagon’s highest-ranking woman, is making her mark on foreign policy

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