Troy native appointed to Biden’s White House staff

By: Jonathan Shead | Troy Times | Published March 18, 2021

 Jim Secreto

Jim Secreto

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TROY — A Troy native and Athens High School graduate has taken his skills all the way from student government to the White House to serve on President Joe Biden’s staff.

Former Troy resident Jim Secreto has been appointed as the special assistant to the president and the director of confirmations.

“It’s an honor to work for the president and support his efforts to help the country and help people in Michigan,” he said.

Secreto currently lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and children. He grew up in the Raintree subdivision, and attended Barnard Elementary and Baker Middle schools before graduating from Athens High School, where he served as the junior and senior class president, his mother, Marilyn Secreto, said.

Jim went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in English and political science from the University of Michigan; a master’s in public policymaking from Harvard University; and a law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center.

“He’s worked hard. It’s been slow and steady,” Marilyn said. “I always tell him, ‘Honey, I don’t know how you did it. I think you were switched at birth,’ because he worked so hard, but the best part is he enjoys it.”

As the director of confirmations, Jim’s role includes helping nominees selected by the president get confirmed in the U.S. Senate.

“All the people who are going to support the ‘Build Back Better’ plan, his efforts (and) the cabinet, they need to be confirmed by the Senate. My job is to make sure they’re prepared and that they are successfully confirmed so they can roll up their sleeves and get to work,” he said.

This won’t be Jim’s first position inside the White House or the Senate, either. He served as deputy associate counsel in the White House Counsel Office during the President Barack Obama-Biden administration, as well as in various roles at the U.S. Department of Energy.

He previously served as counsel to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, as chief counsel to the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, and as chief investigative counsel to former-ranking member Tom Carper on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“Whether it’s working at the White House or working hard at Troy Athens High School, I think all of those experiences help prepare you to do the work, and I certainly hope it’s going to help me in this job for President Biden,” he said.

Describing it as a great springboard into his current career, Jim said he has a lot of gratitude for the teachers, family members and other supporters he had early on in Troy. The community’s civic engagement and public service opportunities are “great preparation for ultimately working in the White House,” Jim said.

“In Washington (D.C.), or in politics, you have to work with all different types of people to find common ground,” he said, adding that Troy’s diverse community prepared him well for this. “I think Troy, because of its diversity, helps you navigate working with other people to find solutions that work for everybody. If you do that in high school, it’s good training for having to do it on the national stage.”

Marilyn, who has two photos of her son’s family with Obama and the Bidens hanging on her walls, said she loves that her son became involved in politics. For any student who has big dreams, such as making it to the White House like her son did, she said it’s important to “find your passion and have perseverance.”

As Jim begins his new role under Biden, he said Michigan is a top priority for him and the president.

“The president cares deeply about Michigan and the people of Michigan. I’m going to work extremely hard to make sure we do the hard work and help ‘Build Back Better’ and get out of the pandemic and make sure the economy is working,” he said. “We definitely keep Michigan absolutely top of mind in making sure that the people in the communities get the support they need.”

For more information, visit whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/03/09/white-house-announces-additional-staff.

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