Jan. 14, 2009
Media Relations Manager
Chief of Staff for Incoming First Lady Michelle Obama Made Strong Impression as SUNY Geneseo Student
GENESEO, N.Y. – Retired SUNY Geneseo political science department chair Alan Shank is not surprised that alumna Jackie Norris has landed a high-profile position in Washington as chief of staff for incoming first lady Michelle Obama.
“She was always very enthusiastic and optimistic and had excellent management skills at a very young age,” said Shank, who was a Geneseo political science faculty member for 30 years and chair of the department for 17. “She was one of our outstanding internship students and was exceptionally outgoing and showed a high level of initiative. Her appointment is a wonderful achievement.”
The 1992 political science major was named to the post recently after working several years in various national political capacities and as a high school teacher in Iowa. Norris, whose maiden name was Jackie Dycke, worked as an intern during her senior year at Geneseo in the office of New York Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, who hired her after graduation and became Slaughter’s chief of staff.
“She made an impression on Louise Slaughter and working for her launched her successful career,” said Shank.
Norris took other positions in politics and education and joined the Obama presidential campaign in 2007, when she served as the Iowa senior adviser during the caucus campaign. She later served as the Iowa state director for his successful 2008 general election campaign in that state.
Norris also served as Vice President Al Gore’s scheduler and events planner during the Clinton administration and as director of scheduling and advance for former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo, who is presently New York’s attorney general. She also served as finance director for Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack’s 1998 gubernatorial campaign. Norris and her husband, John, and three children reside in Iowa.
In 2002, Norris obtained her secondary education teacher certification from Iowa State University and a master’s degree in political science in 2008. She taught high school history and government at three schools in Iowa.