White House Names First Male Social Secretary

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After two female social secretaries, the White House has hired a man for the job -- the first one ever.

Jeremy Bernard, currently senior adviser to the U.S. ambassador to France, will trade Paris for Washington and take on the high-profile assignment, the White House announced Friday. That means he'll be responsible for planning a variety of social functions and pulling them off without a hitch, including lavish state dinners, the annual Easter egg roll and dozens of festive holiday receptions.

Bernard, who is openly gay, said he was deeply humbled to be joining the White House staff.

"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," he said in a statement from the White House.

On Thursday night, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama marked Black History Month with a tribute to the music of Motown, the latest in a series of odes to American music that Mrs. Obama launched after becoming first lady.

Bernard succeeds Julianna Smoot, who left the post last month to help set up Obama's re-election campaign.

Desiree Rogers, the Obamas' first social secretary, departed 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in early 2010, a few months after the administration's first state dinner -- for India -- was marred when a Virginia couple managed to get in without an invitation and get close to the president.

Bernard is a native of San Antonio, Texas. He was the White House liaison to the National Endowment for the Humanities from 2008-2010. Before that, he was a finance consultant in California for Obama's presidential campaign.

He has been active in several gay and lesbian organizations and committees, including the National Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Access Now for Gay & Lesbian Equality, according to a White House biography of Bernard.

Bernard is expected to start at the White House soon, after he completes the trans-Atlantic move from Paris.

The appointment was first reported by The Washington Post.