The first woman and second black person to serve as the White House’s Chief Usher has been mysteriously fired. The Washington Post first reported that Angella Reid had been relieved of her duties on May 5. The newspaper said that no reason was made public. The report added that staff at the White House were told when they arrived for work that Reid was no longer working there. An official told the Post, “We are very grateful for her service and wish her the very best.”
Reid was appointed to the job in October 2011, replacing the first African-American to perform the service, Adm. Stephen W. Rochon. Reid’s tenure in the job was relatively short, in the last 100 years only nine people have occupied the position of Chief Usher.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Reid Left the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Group to Join the White House Staff
Reid, a native of Saint Thomas Parish in Jamaica, was working for the Ritz-Carlton group in Washington D.C. prior to getting the job at the White House. Reid had worked in Miami and Arlington, Virginia, for the group. Her sister, Fiona Shaw-Davis, told the Jamaica Gleaner about Reid saying, “She is a go-getter, and she wanted her next job to be in the government service of the United States.” That same article says that Reid attended high school at Excelsior High School in the Jamaican capital of Kingston. Her first experience in the hospitality industry came at the Half Moon hotel in Montego Bay in 1978.
A Hospitality Business News feature on Reid says that she got a degree in Hospitality Management from the Carl Duisberg Gesellschaft School in Munich, Germany. Reid is fluent in German and Spanish. Other roles for Reid included running the Hartford Marriot Rocky Hill Hotel in Connecticut and the Renaissance New York Hotel in New York City.
2. Reid Got the Job at the White House After Making a Cold Call
In January 2016, Reid was interviewed by Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of George W. Bush, for NBC’s Today. Hager described Reid as being the person who is “in charge of keeping the home running smoothly.” The former first-daughter added, “She works with a dedicated, timeless crew that my family came to adore.”
Reid told Hager that in the summer of 2011 while attending a pool party, Reid found out about the opening for Chief Usher. She says, “I googled the White House, spoke to a young lady, and she took a message. Fortunately for me, she took me seriously and someone called me back.” Reid adds:
It was less about breaking a gender barrier. It really was about the astonishing unbelievable opportunity of serving the President and the First Lady and their family. I am just so grateful for the President and First Lady for taking a chance and bringing me on board… For other little girls who might not think it’s possible, really a culmination of hard work, focus, desire, that really opened that door.
Reid replaced Rear Admiral Stephen Rochan in the job who left for a job in the Department of Homeland Security. CNN reported that Rochan was invited back by Trump’s transition team but he declined. The man who Rochan replaced, Gary Walters, did come back to help with the transition.
3. Reid Was Featured in a 2017 Documentary About President Obama’s Last Days in Office
Reid was featured heavily in a CNN documentary about President Obama’s last days in office. She gives a guided tour during the piece. Reid explains that her staff are not political and have served under multiple administrations from both sides of the aisle.
Reid said in the documentary:
What I think about most when I walk around the house is who has been here, how had sone what in this particular space. Because, you know, just to think that I am able to walk here now when 100 years ago, a president or first lady did, or other guests did, or some of my ancestors did… It gives me a sense of awe, the fact that slaves built this house and I now work in this house as a leader, something out of my wildest dreams.
In a short documentary on the Ritz-Carlton website, Reid spoke of her love for U2, Tina Turner, Pet Shop Boys and Chris Botti. Reid gave the secret of her success as “genuinely caring for people.” While Marty Covert, who worked with Reid, said that the former usher is “Very personable, very patient, very knowledgeable about her business. She’s a class act.”
4. The Chief Usher Oversees a Staff of 100 & Is Responsible for Everything That Goes on in the White House Residence
The Chief Usher of the White House is responsible to everything that happens within the residence. The usher works closely with several other groups including the park service and the White House Historical Society. The staff is numbered at 100 while they are responsible for what goes on in 100 rooms. Among the events organized by the usher are the State Dinner and the Easter egg roll.
The role was established in 1887 when Edson S. Densmore. Prior to the appointment, the First Lady was expected to run and maintain the residence.
5. Trump’s Changes to the Residence Took Place as Soon as President Obama Left for the Inauguration
Just prior to Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, a USA Today feature delved into what happens on the day of the transition. Rear Adm. Rochon told the newspaper that the changeover didn’t happen until the former president leaves the White House for the inauguration. The staff have a window of five hours to complete the changeover.