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Susan Sher stepping down as Michelle Obama's chief of staff: Tina Tchen new COS?

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First Lady Michelle Obama's Chief of Staff Susan Sher will be stepping down next year and returning to Chicago, I've learned.

Another Chicagoan, Tina Tchen, who is the White House Director of Public Engagement, has been mentioned as a potential replacement but I am told that absolutely no decisions have been made--and others may be in the mix.

Mrs. Obama's Deputy Chief of Staff Melissa Winter--the first staffer she hired in the 2008 presidential campaign--is happy where she is and wants to stay put.

There is no specific departure date for Sher.

Sher had been telling friends she was planning to move back to Chicago--where her husband, Neil Cohen is a Cook County Circuit Court Judge at the Maywood courthouse. Sher, a longtime friend of Mrs. Obama and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett--was Mrs. Obama's second chief of staff, joining the East Wing last June.

Sher, a former executive at the University of Chicago Medical Center, where Mrs. Obama once worked, joined the Obama administration at the beginning, in January, 2009. Sher was also the administration's liasion with the Jewish community.


"Susan has been both a colleague and a dear friend for decades, and I have been grateful every day for her leadership and wise counsel in Washington," said First Lady Michelle Obama in a statement. "I also very much appreciate her generosity in staying longer than she initially planned - spending so many months away from her family in Chicago - to help me build my office in the East Wing. I wish her all the best."

"Susan has brought tremendous skill and dedication to the First Lady's office, as well as my Administration's outreach to the Jewish Community and our efforts to pass health care reform, and I thank her for her service," President Obama said in a statement.

No replacement has been named. Mrs. Obama will consider a new chief of staff from internal and external applicants. Mrs. Obama has another top spot vacant--her first communications chief left earlier this year and has yet to be replaced.

Sher had made clear when she joined the Obama White House she was no planning on staying forever.

Her ties with Jarrett and the Obamas go back years. She served as Mayor Daley's Corporation Counsel between 1993 and 1997, where she worked in City Hall with Jarrett and Mrs. Obama.


Sher bio from the Obama transition......

Susan Sher, Associate Counsel to the President

Sher will be Associate Counsel to the President. Her duties will include providing legal advice to the First Lady and working on legal issues associated with health care policy. Sher is currently the Vice President for Legal and Governmental Affairs and General Counsel of the University of Chicago Medical Center and is responsible for all legal, government, regulatory, and community affairs at the Medical Center. She also works on governance and many other Board related issues. From 1993 through 1997 she was the Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago, the City of Chicago's chief lawyer, reporting to the Mayor and responsible for representing the Mayor, city departments, boards, and commissions on all legal matters. She was the first Assistant Corporation Counsel from 1989-1993. Previously she was Associate General Counsel of the University of Chicago, and earlier, was a partner at Mayer Brown & Platt, specializing in Labor and Litigation. She is a cum laude graduate of Loyola University of Chicago School of Law. She is currently on the following Boards of Directors: Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of Mt. Sinai Hospital Medical Center & Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital & Care Network; the Board of Directors of High Jump; the Board of Directors of YWCA of Greater Chicago. She is Past Chair of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and of The Chicago Network. She is on a variety of task forces and committees involving not-for-profit corporations and healthcare, including the Illinois Hospital Association, the Attorney General's Charitable Advisory Task Force and the Donor's Public Trust Task Force.


Categories: Barack Obama
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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on November 16, 2010 12:00 PM.

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