If you were to look at the original White House crew then and now, it may seem like President Obama’s circle is slowly growing further and further away.  Rahm is officially the man in charge in the Windy City, Larry Summers has headed back to Harvard and David Axelrod is busy oiling up the Obama campaign machine for the President’s re-election race coming in 2012.

While the faces in the administration have changed, one has remained constant through it all: Valerie Jarrett.  At 54, Jarrett has known the Obamas for over two decades.  While her own background in business and law certainly qualifies her for the post on her own, Jarrett has gained more and more clout as Obama’s closest advisor for one main reason: well-earned trust.

For the President, Jarrett is the voice he trusts to guide him and keep him grounded.  In an article for this morning’s USA Today, Mimi Hall writes:

At the White House, Jarrett has built a diverse portfolio that gives her a hand in virtually every decision and domestic crisis.  Ever circumspect, she won’t talk publicly about herself or her relationship with Obama.

While Jarrett has more access to Barack and Michelle, she rarely speaks about the complexities of that relationship to others.  Her lockbox approach is one of the things that has gained her respect from the President and First Lady alike, who often venture off White House grounds to have a low-key evening in at Jarrett’s condo in D.C.

Last year the New York Times dubbed Jarrett “Obama’s BFF.”  Though she is a senior presidential aid, political analysts say Jarrett’s relationship with the Obama has been crucial in how he has conducted the first two years of his term.

Speaking to USA Today, senior advisor David Axelrod said of Jarrett:

“Every president needs someone to serve not only as a trusted sounding board but also as a patient listener of complaints and frustrations. Even if a White House occupant can stand the heat of Oval Office decision-making, it’s often important to let off steam — and that’s where a best friend or confidant becomes essential.”

We love that President Obama has a wise sister in his ear that has earned his respect through the years.  Jarrett is the President’s venting board as well as his guiding rod and is trusted and respected by the First Lady as well.  And while she is a presidential aide, the insight and loyalty she brings is something that everyone should have in at least one person in their inner circle.

In our age of Facebook and Twitter “friends,” its easy for us to misconstrue cordiality for genuine closeness.  While creating the picture perfect group of girlfriends should be less the aim than developing bonds to last through it all.  Keeping the right people in your circle means more than canoodling with people who share our interests or say ‘yes’ to every choice we make.  It may mean butting heads and not always seeing eye to eye but having someone who will consistently guard your back even if they can’t play the star role up front is rare.  If you have a girlfriend like that in your life, be sure not to take them for granted.  And should you be lucky enough to find one along the way, don’t ever let her go.

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  • ceecee

    Great article! Also want to add that while we’re looking to add a “Valerie Jarett” to our team, we should also seek to be that “Valerie Jarett” to someone else.

  • Amanda

    Well said, and said well. Loved this article!