I have spent much of the past four months reflecting on my two years at the White House, trying to formulate answers to the questions I hear most often: What exactly did you do at the White House? How did you get your job there? What was your favorite moment? What is Vice President Kamala Harris like in person? (That one’s easy: brilliant, thoughtful, and actually very funny.)
Perhaps the question folks ask most often: What was it like working at the White House? Well, a typical day went something like this.
I greet friends and colleagues — like Michael Leach, the White House’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, and Khanya Brann, now a senior communications advisor in the office of Intergovernmental Affairs — before ascending the winding staircase up to the second floor, home to the Office of the Vice President. The speechwriting office is almost directly across the hall from the vice president’s Ceremonial Office, one of the vice president’s three offices in Washington (the other two being her office in the West Wing and her office in the Capitol Building).
I set my briefcase down, transfer the can of grapefruit seltzer from my bag to our minifridge and boot up my laptop. After greeting one another, my team and I head across the hall to the Ceremonial Office for our monthly all-staff meeting, which brings together all 50 or so staffers in the Office of the Vice President – from the communications team to the correspondence team to the public engagement team to the policy team. For around an hour, we collectively discuss the vice president’s ongoing priorities and what each of our teams is doing to help advance them. Department heads introduce new team members and salute those leaving after a job well done.
Afterwards, the three of us speechwriters head back across the hall and huddle in my boss’s office for a check-in. On the wall hangs a whiteboard calendar listing every speech the vice president will deliver over the month ahead and which one of us is responsible for drafting each of them. The calendar reminds us of that afternoon’s ceremony honoring the NCAA champion LSU Tigers Women’s Basketball Team, where the vice president will deliver remarks. After spending the rest of the morning performing research for upcoming remarks and helping finalize that afternoon’s speech, I head down to Ike’s to grab a to-go box of their signature orange chicken – a staff favorite – and bring it back upstairs for our weekly comms team lunch. We scarf down our food and trade life updates before heading back to our desks.
It’s almost time for the LSU ceremony. About an hour before it starts, I head over to the spectacular East Room of the White House and set up shop at the teleprompter station. There, I work with the teleprompter operators to load the most up-to-date version of the vice president’s speech into the teleprompter, format the text according to the vice president’s preferences, and make some last-minute edits to the speech.
Once I’m done, I step aside and allow the president’s speechwriters to do the same, and then the first lady’s speechwriters. Our teams share a special camaraderie, and events with multiple principal speakers always give us the opportunity to bond by the teleprompter. With some time to reflect before the ceremony starts, I pinch myself as I think about the many historic events that have occurred in the East Room — some of which I had the opportunity to attend — and how lucky I am to work where I do.
The event goes off without a hitch. I congratulate my fellow speechwriters and trek back over to the EEOB, where I crack open my seltzer and spend the rest of the day helping our digital team draft tweets for the week ahead. After leaving work hours later, I walk past tourists snapping photos outside the north gates. I again pinch myself.
Memories from the past two years flood my mind: hanging out with Peanut Butter and Jelly – the two turkeys pardoned by President Joe Biden in 2021 – taking my family, countless friends, and middle school band director on after-hours tours of the West Wing, celebrating the passage of transformational pieces of legislation on the South Lawn, flying with the vice president on Air Force 2, riding in the motorcade, celebrating Black History Month with my sister at the Vice President’s Residence, moderating a fireside chat with Patrick Mahomes during the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl visit, and forming life-long friendships with my colleagues in the trenches. Knowing that I will soon be leaving the White House to start law school, I allow myself to sit with those memories for a few more moments before I continue my walk home.
While my White House journey might have come to an end, I will forever cherish the memories I made and the opportunity I had to serve the American people as a part of the historic Biden-Harris Administration.
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