Obama Alum Valerie Jarrett Has A Brand New Role In Silicon Valley

Photo: Courtesy of Lyft.
Valerie Jarrett, who served as President Obama's Special Advisor over the course of his eight-year term, can add a new title to her already illustrious resume. Today, Lyft announced that Jarrett is joining the ride-sharing company's board of directors.
In a blog post about the new appointment, Jarrett said that she frequently rides in Lyfts and referenced her past experience in city administration, saying, "We share a belief that reliable, affordable transportation positively impacts social mobility, and improves the quality of life in densely populated communities."
Prior to working with the Obama administration, Jarrett was the Commissioner of Planning and Development for the City of Chicago and Chair of the Chicago Transit board, so she's well suited to understanding the needs of urban transportation.
Jarrett's appointment makes her just the second woman on the now nine-member board, alongside Ann Miura-Ko of the venture capital firm Floodgate Fund. This ratio isn't unusual for Silicon Valley boards, but it is one aspect that has faced increased scrutiny in recent months, particularly as an embattled Uber (Lyft's main competition) dealt with sexist comments from one of its male board members. (Jarrett also penned an op-ed for Refinery29 today for Black Women’s Equal Pay Day.)
In addition to joining Lyft, Jarrett is an advisor to the Obama Foundation and a member of the board of directors for Ariel Investments. Her move into the world of tech isn't a surprising one: The pipeline of politicians going from DC to Silicon Valley has become more and more common in recent years. The former head of the EPA under Obama, Lisa Jackson, now works at Apple (she interviewed Michelle Obama at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference in June), and former Attorney General Eric Holder played a key role in the investigation into Uber's workplace culture.
While Jarrett's appointment brings female representation on Lyft's board to just 22%, it is still an important step in the right direction.

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