The XX factor in Obama’s transition

On my way to New York today, where I plan on seeing Jeffrey Renard Allen give a reading in my old ‘hood and cover tomorrow’s hearing for the Iraq vets that make up the Hempstead 15. But to wrap up the election thread for this week, here’s the news blog I wrote for WVFC, since I really do think that the presence of women in Obama’s team has the capacity to be quietly transformational. (For video for all of the women below, you have to click on my original post.)

It’s been eight years since we has such a new slate of advisors to look at, and ponder what their role will be in the changes afoot. The women below come from a range of backgrounds, from corporate boardrooms (several on the Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women) to California classrooms and governor’s mansions.) It would be foolish to make generalizations about a government with so many representatives of The New Menopause in key positions.

But we can dream — that our concerns will certainly not be left behind, and that midlife’s particular mix of idealism, sense of humor, deep worry, and renewed energy can both add power to the new policies being developed and ensure that they’re grounded by real-world, physical realities.

More details later, but here’s an initial honor roll, with as much video as felt appropriate:

At the helm: One of the transition team’s three co-chairs is Chicago attorney Valerie Jarrett, 51, CEO of The Habitat Company (seen above(.  A Newsweek profile in May noted: “Jarrett got her start working for Harold Washington, the city’s first black mayor. Her grandfather ran the Chicago Housing Authority in the 1940s. Obama has long turned to her for advice. When he wanted to run for the U.S. Senate, he first had to convince Michelle and Jarrett that it was a good idea. He’s been seeking her counsel ever since.”

Show him the money:  Speaking of the governor’s mansion, Michigan’s Jennifer Granholm, 49, (above with First Lady Michelle Obama) is a core member of  the newly-announced team of economic advisers. Granholm joins not just Warren Buffet but
Laura D’Andrea Tyson, dean of the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley and former chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors;  Anne Mulcahy, 57, Chairman and CEO, Xerox;
and Hyatt exec Penny Pritzker. 49.

    In the boardroom:

    Granholm, who was mentioned as a dark-horse vice-presidential candidate, is also on the transition team’s Advisory Board, which also includes Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, 51,  who was profiled by Newsmix in July as a veep prospect; Susan Rice (above), 43, Brookings Institution fellow and former assistant secretary of state for African Affairs; and former EPA chair Carol Browner (below), the longest-serving administrator in the
    history of the agency, staying through both terms of the Clinton

    The long arms of the law: Women helping power the transition’s legal team include  general counsel (and Harvard Law school classmate) Cassandra Butts, former senior vice president for domestic policy at the Center for American
    Progress and senior adviser to Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.);  Lisa Brown, the Executive Director of the American Constitution Society, and Melody Barnes, 43, of the Center for American Progress as co-directors of agency review; and Clinton adviser Christine A. Varney, 52, as counsel for personnel.

    That different voice: Get used to another face next to the familiar Obama spokespersons Robert Gibbs and David Axelrod:  Michelle Obama’s chief of staff, 40-year-old Stephanie Cutter (seen above dueling with Chris Matthews during the campaign). During the Clinton Administration, Cutter worked as deputy communications director in both the White House and U.S. EPA.

    We at WVFC now know we have to get busy deciding who on this list we should try to interview and profile. We’d welcome readers’ comments — both about who we should talk to, and what questions you want to ask them when we do!

    — Chris L.


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