Skip to content

Valerie Jarrett To Lead Day-to-Day Management of the Obama Foundation

December 7, 2020 at 3:30 PM CST

Appointment Comes As Obama Presidential Center Nears End of Federal Review Process and Prepares for Groundbreaking in 2021

CHICAGO -- Today, the Obama Foundation announced that Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the Obama Foundation, will increase her responsibilities on an interim basis to continue to advance the Foundation’s mission upon the departure of Foundation President Wally Adeyemo, which will occur upon his confirmation as Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Department. Ms. Jarrett, who served as Senior Advisor to President Obama for all eight years of his administration, will continue in this expanded capacity until a permanent replacement is appointed.

“Michelle and I couldn’t be more proud of what Wally has accomplished over the past year,” said President Obama. “He’s driven our strategy of developing and connecting the next generation of young leaders—and, with his leadership and his example, Wally has been an admirable model of that goal as well. We’re heartened that President-Elect Biden has offered him the chance to continue his service as Deputy Secretary of the Treasury. Our country will be better off for it.”

“Even as Wally moves on, we know that the Foundation will remain in good hands. We’re grateful to Valerie Jarrett for agreeing to guide the Foundation as we continue toward the construction of the Obama Presidential Center and take new steps in our work to connect and empower the next generation. Valerie is not just our dear friend and longtime advisor, she’s a daughter of Chicago who cares deeply about our hometown and has been with the Foundation since the very beginning. Her command of policy and organizational leadership will serve the Foundation well, and her demonstrated commitment to mentorship and developing young people will be a guiding light as we move forward," President Obama also said.

“I believe wholeheartedly in the mission and direction in which the Foundation is headed,” said Valerie Jarrett. “I’m here to help execute the Foundation’s strategy in a very important year ahead. When President Obama asked me to help lead this organization, I was thrilled to accept and continue my efforts to build a world-class Presidential center just a few miles from the neighborhood where I grew up and where I raised my daughter. I’m looking forward to working with this talented and dedicated team.”

Over the course of the last year, the Foundation has completed a five-year strategic plan and Ms. Jarrett will lead its implementation. The Obama Foundation’s goal is to build a powerful network of emerging leaders who are driving change on the issues that impact their communities. The Foundation will focus on moving people from hope to action through the Obama Presidential Center and digital resources, building a global network of leaders through its programs, and deepening engagement in Chicago to impact the city that has welcomed the new Presidential Center to its South Side.

The Foundation’s programming focus in Chicago will continue to include efforts to engage K-12 students and the next generation of leaders with programs like the My Brother’s Keeper initiative that focuses on boys and young men of color. Jarrett’s background with these initiatives in the White House, and her long commitment to service in Chicago and beyond, were among her strong qualifications to lead the efforts in the Foundation’s next phase of growth.

“There is no one closer to understanding President Obama’s lifelong mission of community engagement than Valerie Jarrett,” said Marty Nesbitt, the Foundation’s Board Chair. “She was a central figure through it all—starting with community organizing in South Side basements, going on to fight for better education and jobs for African Americans on the campaign trail, and strengthening access to health care in the White House. She is the perfect choice to help train the next generation of leaders to be the change they want to see. She’s living proof of what that looks like.”

“Valerie is an unrivaled role model for the Black community in particular for our Black youth in Chicago,” said Shirley Newsome, Board Chair, South East Chicago Commission. “When our youth look at Valerie they see a woman who shares their grit and resilience, a woman who has fought to create change in the world and who did it at the very highest levels.”

Valerie Jarrett, the former CEO of The Habitat Company, adds to the real estate expertise of the Obama Foundation team that recently added Lori Healey, former president of Clayco’s Chicago business and CEO of the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority, to oversee construction of the Obama Presidential Center. Ms. Jarrett was also the former Deputy Chief of Staff to Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, served as Commissioner of Planning and Development in the Daley administration, and she has served on the board of directors of many of Chicago’s leading civic organizations.

“The Obama Presidential Center will strengthen Chicago’s reputation as a global destination,” said Kelly Welsh, President of the Civic Committee and the Commercial Club of Chicago. “The potential—to strengthen tourism in the city, bring investment to an area that has been overlooked for too long, and train the next generation of world leaders in Chicago—can not be overstated. And Valerie Jarrett, with her lifelong commitment to Chicago, and her business acumen and expertise, is just the person to ensure this important project realizes its potential.”

Learn more about the Obama Foundation at


Contact: Courtney D. Williams, Obama Foundation, [email protected]

About the Obama Foundation

The Obama Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to inspire, empower, and connect people to change their world. That mission begins on the South Side of Chicago, where the Foundation is building the Obama Presidential Center. The Obama Presidential Center represents a historic opportunity for Chicago: a chance to build a world-class museum and public gathering space that celebrates our nation’s first African American President and First Lady, steps away from where he began his career, where she was raised, and where—together—they made their home. Not only will the Center generate billions of dollars of economic opportunity and help reconnect and revitalize Jackson Park, it will also serve as a reminder to young visitors—from around the city and from around the world—that their potential is limitless.