by Kenya King
ATLANTA–To this day, the remembrance of an oral argument in law school gives her a ghastly uneasiness. But now she finds a way to joke about her abysmal experience and how she ultimately overcame her fear of public speaking. After all, it is the reason she didn’t become a litigator and instead began working in public service.
Today, she has become one of the most respected and powerful women in the government. As Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama, Valerie B. Jarrett runs the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs and also chairs of the White House Council on Women and Girls.
Jarrett often highlights matters pertaining to women’s issues in her White House blog and revealed to ADW the candid advice she gives to young women. “You can have it all, but not necessarily all at the same time,” said Jarrett.
She cautioned the idea of expecting to have everything because “life is full of tradeoffs.”
The last time ADW sat down and spoke with Jarrett, she was visiting Atlanta for the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday commemoration at Ebenezer Baptist Church. ADW’s Kenya King caught up Jarrett again as she rounded out the White House’s fifth stop at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) graduation ceremonies this spring.
ADW: We know that President Obama made available $850 million for education reform for HBCUs. Are there any new initiatives?
Jarrett: We’re going to continue to try to address their important needs. You’re right. He did make [resources] at a time when our federal budget is shrinking. He made sure he made additional resources available because he believes so strongly that they are the pillars of academic excellence, not just within the black community because the graduates go on and they impact our society as a whole, so we’re always working with the HBCUs and the President’s Advisory Council to think of new and innovative ways of supporting them.
ADW: As a woman in public policy, what do think women need to be success at policymaking?