The first lady, who will remain in New York for at least six more months as her 10-year-old son finishes school, praised Niceta Loyd’s experience in a statement.
“I am looking forward to sharing my ideas and traditions of entertaining and social hospitality to America’s house, my new home as well. That, along with Rickie’s vast experience, I am even more excited.”
The statement also highlighted the new social secretary’s link to the upper echelons of Social Washington: “Ms. Niceta Lloyd is married to Thomas Lloyd, grandson of the late Bunny Mellon, wife of Paul Mellon, friend and mentor to Jacqueline Kennedy,” it noted.
Those familiar with the hiring process said Melania Trump had sought a veteran hand to help execute the high-visibility events a social secretary typically plans. Those include everything from delicate diplomatic affairs, like state dinners, to cultural programs to boisterous Easter egg rolls on the White House lawn. The job is more substantive than mere party planner: Each event helps communicate the president and first lady’s agenda to the world.
Melania Trump’s forays into the spotlight have been marked with missteps. Her lawyer in a libel case Monday claimed that Trump had planned to “launch a broad-based commercial brand” using her exposure as first lady, selling “apparel accessories, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, hair care, skin care and fragrance.”
And at the Republican National Convention last year, Trump ran into trouble when the speech she gave — which was crafted by a longtime employee of the Trump Organization — included lines cribbed from Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic convention address.
“They want to get it right,” said one person familiar with Melania’s approach to putting together an East Wing staff, which at full strength could number two dozen.
Melania Trump recently named Lindsay Reynolds, a former head of the White House visitor’s office, as her chief of staff. Trump has also hired Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a New York party planner known for organizing the celeb-laden Met Gala, as a senior adviser.