Geneseo alumna '92 appointed chief of staff for First Lady

As the new Obama administration falls into place, the recent appointment of Jackie Norris, Geneseo alumna, as Michelle Obama's chief of staff attests to the value of a Geneseo degree.

According to a press release by the Obama transition team, Norris, a 1992 political science graduate, became involved in Obama's presidential campaign in 2007 as the Iowa senior advisor during the caucuses as well as Iowa state director for the 2008 general election.

Prior to her involvement in the political campaign, Norris taught government and history in three high schools in Iowa where she lived with her husband, John, and their three children. She obtained a secondary education teacher certification in 2002 from Iowa State University and received her master's degree in political science in 2008.

Norris' time at Geneseo propelled her into the political arena, where she worked in former Vice President Al Gore's office in Washington along with fellow classmate Peggy Cusack, a '91 Geneseo political science graduate. "The president and the first lady are very lucky to have Jackie on their team in the White House," said Cusack.

While a student at Geneseo, Norris took advantage of local opportunities to boost her career in politics, including an internship the summer of her senior year for New York Congresswoman Louise Slaughter.

"She was one of our outstanding internship students," said retired political science professor Alan Shank in a press release. "[She] was exceptionally outgoing and showed a high level of initiative."

Current Geneseo faculty members see her appointment as a very positive message about the value of hard work. "I feel quite proud of Jackie Norris' success," said Jeffrey Koch, political science department chair. "Things did not always go as Jackie Norris hoped in terms of her career, but her perseverance paid off in the end."

Students who were actively involved in the Obama campaign last fall also feel that they have something to be proud of. "I am happy to see that Geneseo can take part during this amazing time with such a promising president and first lady," said junior Michelle Scott. "Through Jackie Norris, our campus can loudly say that we are proud to have President Obama in the White House."

"[Norris] is one of the most hardworking, most principled people I have ever met in politics," said Cusack. Of Norris' new role as Michelle Obama's chief of staff Cusack said, "she will be a good, loyal friend to them - as she has been for many other people in Geneseo, Washington, Iowa, and all around the country."