Meet The Mexican American Who’s Just As Cool As Her Bosses, The Obamas
Leah Katz-Hernandez is someone to look up to. The 28-year-old Mexican-Jewish-American Connecticut native went from White House intern to the official White House receptionist. Career goals much? Every person who enters the White House, from tourist to world leader, is greeted with a smile from Leah and a hello in sign language. Leah is the first deaf person to hold this position.
Leah Katz-Hernandez was born in Connecticut to a Jewish social worker mom, who is also deaf, and Mexican-American father who put himself through college to earn a PhD.
She credits her dad as one of the biggest inspirations in her life. She told Fox Latino, “My father was born in California, in the Los Angeles area. He grew up on horse ranches. He worked hard, put himself through college, and earned his PhD. He’s always taught me it’s very important to give back to your community.”
Leah got her first taste of politics when she was in college and volunteered in a presidential campaign. Look at how excited she was!
Even though she was a busy college student with a job, she was so excited about President Obama’s vision that she got involved in his first presidential campaign as an unpaid volunteer. During the 2008 presidential election, she also started a bi-partisan blog called The Deaf Perspective. The blog was designed to “give both the deaf and hearing community a unique perspective on the political process” in the United States.
Her first visit to the White House was in 2010 – the same year she became a White House intern.
She’s always been interested in politics and majored in government at Gallaudet University, the “only university designed to be barrier-free for deaf and hard of hearing students.” After graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2010, she interned at the White House in the Office of Public Engagement, was a fellow for the U.S. House of Representatives and worked in the non-profit sector.
In 2012, Leah scored a job on Obama’s reelection campaign and she remembers the first time he signed to her. Who knew he could sign, right?
Yes, Obama’s that cool. Clearly, still enthusiastic about Obama and driven to become part of his administration, she headed to work at his reelection headquarters in Chicago. That’s when she first met him. “The room was chock-full of staff,” she told Fox News Latino. “The president walked in, and, as he walked by me, I thanked him. He signed, ‘Thank you back.” *Dying*
After Obama was reelected (?), Michelle Obama hired Leah as her press assistant and research associate.
The first time Michelle met Leah, she greeted her in sign. NBD, right?
Three years later, Leah got her a desk right by the Oval Office that she shares with her interpreter. Together, they welcome some of the most influential world leaders who come visit Mr. President.
In 2015, she got a desk in the West Wing a few steps away form the Oval Office and became the receptionist of the White House. If you are wondering how she communicates over the phone or in person with those who don’t know sign language, she has access to an interpreter who works at her side when necessary. According to Katz-Hernandez, her job is to“make sure that everyone is happy, and everyone feels welcome and has a nice experience when they come into the West Wing lobby.” Some of her other tasks include being in charge of the White House guest book, managing the Roosevelt Room and the Ward Room and collecting cellphones before meetings with the president.
Her job is so legit, it came with its own acronym.
So, you can call her…
Doesn’t she have the coolest boss?! ?
Leah says she wants “to show that deaf people can do anything.”
Way to go, ROTUS!
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