First Lady Michelle Obama is ramping for the 2012 re-election drive with Allyson Laackman, a Chicagoan who is the chief financial officer for the president's office, tapped to be her campaign chief of staff.
The building of a political team comes as Mrs. Obama campaign schedule is still a work in progress with the timing to be determined in part when a GOP nominee emerges from the crowded primary field.
The Obama 2012 campaign, headquartered in Chicago's Prudential Building, also is adding a press secretary for Mrs. Obama---Olivia Alair, who is currently the Department of Transportation spokesman.
Mrs. Obama was disappointed in how the Obama 2008 campaign used her and she entered the White House determined to never again be blindsided by a lack of strategy and staff to execute a goal.
Her First Lady ratings are sky high compared to President Obama's, achieved in part by taking on non-controversial issues: childhood obesity and helping military families.
Mrs. Obama hit the road on a limited basis for the 2010 mid-term contests. She jumped on the 2012 trail for the first time in May with an event in Atlanta and so far has focused almost exclusively at headlining high-end fund-raisers across the nation and at donor events targeting females.
Mrs. Obama is slowly expanding her political role, taking on the lead of a "Women for Obama" drive within the campaign last month.
Mrs. Obama will likely be very selective about where she stumps as she revives her 2008 role as "The Closer" with voters.
While she will be needed to help in battleground states, I would not expect her to hit Tea Party pockets. Mrs. Obama's obvious strength is in energizing the Democratic base --youths, women and African Americans.
With Laackman, Mrs. Obama now has Chicagoans as her chief of staff in the campaign and in the East Wing, where Tina Tchen oversees the First Lady operation.
Laackman's husband, Donald, is the president of the Harold Washington College, part of the City Colleges of Chicago. A Lakeview resident, Laackman has been commuting weekends between Chicago and Washington, where she is the chief financial officer for the executive office of the President.
Laackman most recently also helped manage the White House residence staff--putting her in direct regular contact with Mrs. Obama's East Wing team.
Before joining the White House, Laackman was the finance director of the Obama/Biden Transition and served three months as the controller of the 2008 Obama presidential campaign.
She has also held executive positions at French American Securities, IFX and Arthur Andersen. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana campus.
Alair is a veteran of the Obama presidential campaign in Ohio.