The White House announced the appointment Friday afternoon of Jeremy Bernard to the position of Special Assistant to the President and Social Secretary. He is the first man and the first openly gay person to hold the position.
According to Jonathan Capehart at the Washington Post, "Bernard and his then-partner Rufus Gifford were early supporters of Obama in California. And they raised a ton of money for him through their company, B&G Associates. Gifford went on to become finance director of the Democratic National Committee. Bernard was the White House liaison at the National Endowment for the Humanities before dashing off to his Paris post in November."
According to the news release that announced his appointment, Bernard will join the White House from the U.S. Embassy in Paris, where he serves as senior adviser to the ambassador. He previously worked as the White House Liaison to the National Endowment for the Humanities from 2008 to 2010.
President Barack Obama said, "Jeremy shares our vision for the White House as the People's House, one that celebrates our history and culture in dynamic and inclusive ways. We look forward to Jeremy continuing to showcase America's arts and culture to our nation and the world through the many events at the White House."
Bernard said, "I am deeply humbled to join the White House staff as Social Secretary and support President Obama and the First Lady in this role. I have long admired the arts and education programs that have become hallmarks of the Obama White House and I am eager to continue these efforts in the years ahead."
A native of San Antonio, Texas, Bernard also served the Clinton administration on the President's Advisory Committee on the Arts for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and was a member of the Democratic National Committee from 2001 to 2009.
Bernard has served in LGBT-related positions including as a board member of A.N.G.L.E. (Access Now for Gay & Lesbian Equality) and the National Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. He also was a member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's LGBT Advisory Committee, the Los Angeles Police LGBT Advisory Committee and the Los Angeles Mayor's LGBT Advisory Committee.