January 05, 2011
The White House announced this week that Tina Tchen, Knox College honorary degree recipient and 2010 commencement speaker, will serve as chief of staff to first lady Michelle Obama.
Currently serving as director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, Tchen will take her new post at the end of January.
Photos: Above, Knox College President Roger Taylor presents honorary degree to Tina Tchen; right, Tchen delivers commencement address to the Knox Class of 2010.
The honorary degree citation, read by Andrew Civettini, assistant professor of political science, noted Tchen's "lifelong commitment to equality, justice, and service to community."
"Tina's tenure at the White House has focused on ensuring that communities across the country have a voice and a presence at the White House," Michelle Obama said in announcing the appointment on January 5. "Her office has worked closely with mine to develop many of our outreach efforts. We particularly share a commitment to nurturing young women and utilizing the White House as a platform for education and inclusion and I look forward to continuing that work together."
Tchen was appointed to the White House staff by President Barack Obama, who is also a Knox College honorary degree recipient and commencement speaker. Obama gave the commencement address at Knox in 2005, when he was serving as United States Senator from Illinois. Other U.S. Presidents who have been awarded honorary degrees from Knox are Bill Clinton and Abraham Lincoln.
Prior to joining the White House staff, Tchen worked for 25 years at the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, and Flom, the last 13 as partner of litigation. In addition to her corporate clients, she represented public agencies such as the Illinois Department of Public Aid, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, and the Chicago Housing Authority.
In her commencement address, Tchen noted that Knox College President Roger Taylor "was the first lawyer I worked for when I started my legal career." Following her first year of law school, Tchen was a summer associate at Taylor's firm, Kirkland and Ellis. Taylor and Tchen are both graduates of Northwestern University School of Law.
As director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, Tchen "encourages people with differing viewpoints to engage with government, helping to shape policies as well as to increase public awareness of the logic of government decisions," Civettini said in his honorary degree citation. In her work with the White House Council on Women and Girls, Tchen "ensures that issues facing women and girls are handled efficiently and effectively... including access to reproductive health, maternity care, and screenings for breast cancer," Civettini said.