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As the White House Turns

Is meeting and event planning strictly a backstage job at the White House?

Meeting professionals are used to being invisible at their own events — and most of the ones I’ve met and worked with seem to prefer it that way. So it’s not surprising to learn that, after White House social secretary Desiree Rogers drew criticism for seeming too comfortable in the spotlight, the woman who is replacing her — Julianna Smoot — has a reputation for maintaining a lower profile. From today’s Washington Post:


Perhaps the most obvious superficial difference between the outgoing and incoming social secretaries is one of culture and style: Where Rogers was high-profile and glamorous, Smoot is low-key and a more conventional political operative. A 2007 Washington Post profile described her as having “a blend of Southern charm and brash straight talk.” And where Rogers appreciated the power of the limelight, Smoot has a better understanding of the no-drama Obama ethos, several Democratic officials said.

It makes me wonder if there’s ever a public role for meeting professionals to play at their events. Or is meeting and event planning strictly a backstage job?

Christopher Durso

Christopher Durso is executive editor of Convene.