She graduated from New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois in 1996. While at high school she was an intern for Senator Dick Durbin.
She studied political science at the University of Arizona, graduating in 2000. She ran all of Obama"s Downstate Illinois offices when he was United States Senator for the state, and managed the 2007 announcement of his candidacy for President. After his election she served as Chief of Staff at the National Endowment for the Arts until May 2011, when she became personal secretary to the President, taking over from Katie Johnson.
She worked for Representative Lane Evans, and in 2003 moved to work for Obama, who was then a member of the Illinois Senate.