Ferial Govashiri has one of the world’s most interesting and demanding jobs: gatekeeper of the Oval Office. As President Obama’s Personal Secretary, she has spent the past ten years within arm’s length of one of the world’s most powerful leaders.
Born in Iran, Govashiri immigrated to the U.S. when she was just six months old as the Ayatollah was closing borders. The daughter of a respected physician who had to completely start over when he arrived in the States, Ferial understood the importance of hard work and education at an early age. After completing her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science at UC Irvine, she began working on local campaigns and studying for the LSAT.
When it was time to mail in law school applications, Ferial got cold feet realizing that law school was her parents’ dream, not hers. While law school was the next logical step, her heart was on the campaign trail. Despite the grueling hours and minimal pay, Ferial’s parents supported her decision and she soon moved to LA to join The Strategy Group. “When you have passion you are able to work non-stop,” says Govashiri. “People take notice.”
And take notice they did. In 2007, she joined the presidential campaign for then Senator Obama in the Scheduling and Advance department. Following the election, she was appointed to the National Security Council (NSC) as Senior Advisor to the Deputy National Security Advisor. She then served as Senior Advisor to the Chief of Staff and the Director of Visits at the NSC, assisting in the planning of President Obama’s foreign travel and overseeing arrangements for heads of state visiting the White House. After five years serving with the NSC, she was appointed Personal Aide to the President in 2014.
As the last stop before the Oval Office, Ferial has perfected leadership, prioritization and patience under immense pressure. Everyone walking through her office thinks their time with the President is most important, but she makes the final call, sometimes with little to no knowledge of why they want to meet with him. “There will be times you doubt yourself. Trust in yourself and the decisions you are making.”
In her compelling presentations, Govashiri speaks to the importance of identifying your passion and working hard to achieve your goals. She uses her experience managing the nation’s highest office to inspire and encourage audience members to lead with confidence and efficiency. Her personal anecdotes, including the time she had to interrupt a private meeting between the President and the Pope, provide a peek behind the elusive presidential curtain that will leave audiences entertained and enlightened.
2014: Personal Aide to the President of The United States
2013: Senior Advisor to the Chief of the National Security Council and Director of Visits
2009: Senior Advisor to the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications
2009: White House Trip Coordinator
2008: Officer of Scheduling and Advance, Obama-Biden Transition Project
2007: Senior Advance Desk-National Advance Staff, Obama for America
2006: Production Manager, The Strategy Group