Valerie Jarrett, Former Sr. Advisor to Pres. Obama

Valerie Jarrett

Video credit: Howard Min


Shining seems to come naturally to Valerie Jarrett. She is considered one of the founders of "shine," having instituted a strategy of amplification in the Obama White House to ensure female voices were heard. 

She has three simple rules for shining on others. First, quite simply… you have to get to know one another. It's easier to shine on someone you care about. Second, when you are in situations where there is shade, you have to shine even more openly, meaning you have to speak up even louder and amplify even more. The final rule is to shine honestly. Sometimes shining someone is telling them a hard truth - where they could do better, where maybe they didn't have the right answer, etc. 

Valerie has had the support of some strong mentors along the way (Michelle and Barack included!), but one mentor in particular stands out for the incredible impact she's had on her life. Early in her career - when she was still practicing law - she had a client, named Lucille, with whom she became very close. Lucille knew Valerie was a single mom so she did everything she could to help her thrive, including coming over to her house in the evening so that Valerie could tuck her daughter in bed and then they could get back to work.

After they had worked together for a while, Lucille pushed Valerie to ask for a promotion. At first, Valerie resisted, thinking it was premature. When she finally got the courage to ask her boss (after a lot of prodding from Lucille), it was a super easy conversation. She soon realized that Lucille had already spoken to her boss and made the case for her promotion, shining on her without her even knowing.  

Now it's Valerie's turn to shine on. Valerie shines on Jordan Brooks, the Director of the United State of Women. Jordan started out as an assistant in the White House. During that time, she demonstrated how much she cared about gender equity and went above and beyond to push that agenda forward, ultimately becoming the Deputy Director of the Council on Women and Girls. Now, every chance she gets, Valerie lets Jordan take center stage, shining on her from the sidelines.

Check out Valerie's video to hear more of her Shine Together story.