The new White House Social Secretary will be a figure familiar to political-entertainment circles in Los Angeles: Jeremy Bernard.
Bernard, currently senior adviser to U.S. Ambassador to France Charles Rivkin, will succeed Julianna Smoot in the post, in which he’ll oversee White House social functions like state dinners, concerts and other cultural activities. He’ll also be the first openly gay man to hold the post.
The social secretary has been a kind of point person for the White House and Hollywood.
“Jeremy shares our vision for the White House as the People’s House, one that celebrates our history and culture in dynamic and inclusive ways,” President Obama said in a statement. “We look forward to Jeremy continuing to showcase America’s arts and culture to our nation and the world through the many events at the White House.”
“I am deeply humbled to join the White House staff as Social Secretary and support President Obama and the First Lady in this role,” Bernard said. “I have long admired the arts and education programs that have become hallmarks of the Obama White House and I am eager to continue these efforts in the years ahead.”
Chad Griffin, president of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, said, “Jeremy Bernard has been a tireless advocate not only for LGBT community, but for so much of what makes enriches the human experience. His appointment by the President is not only a recognition of Jeremy’s outstanding work, but it should be celebrated as a signal of the President’s commitment to diversity.”
Bernard served as White House liaison to the National Endowment for the Humanities from 2009 to late last year, when he moved to Paris to work as chief of staff for Rivkin, the former head of Wild Brain Media and the Jim Henson Co. During the 2008 campaign, the two worked closely when Rivkin was Obama’s Southern California finance co-chair, and Bernard was a finance consultant as a principal in B&G Associates. During the campaign, Bernard helped organize fund-raisers such as one at the home of Oprah Winfrey, and another headlined by Barbra Streisand that raised almost $10 million in a single evening.
He previously worked as vice president of Mapleton Investments and director of government affairs for Falcon Cable, and was a board member of Access Now for Gay & Lesbian Equality and the National Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.