Those who watch the press briefings from the White House Coronavirus Task Force are familiar with response coordinator Deborah Birx. Often the only woman on the stage, Birx was assigned to the task force on February 26 and draws on years of experience fighting HIV/AIDS globally. In fact, she served as the Ambassador-at-Large and US Global AIDS Coordinator from 2014 to 2020.
From time to time, Birx discusses her personal life on stage, with references to her husband of many years, former Clinton advance man, Paige Reffe.
Reffe Was the Deputy Assistant & Director of Advance for Bill Clinton
Reffe graduated from both the college and the law school of Emory University. From 2000 to 2002, he served on the Visitor’s Board of the United States Airforce Academy.
As the Deputy Assistant and Director of Advance, Reffe was responsible for the execution of the President and First Lady’s trips, according to The Project on Transitional Democracies.
Speaking to CBS in 2000, Reffe shared, “From who sits where on the motorcade, to how you communicate the message. They deal with who gets invited to events, who sits on the podium, who speaks and when. They deal with lighting, press filing centers, coordinating with security and balancing local political interests with national ones. The role is much more than a logistical one.”
He went on to say that the hardest thing about being an advance man for the president is balancing local and national or international agendas. “You have to be a diplomat at all times and learn the value of saying no to the great and the near great.”
When Reffe was asked what the most difficult trip to pull off was, he shared, “The most difficult trip to pull off was the funeral of Yitzhak Rabin. Because members of the Jewish faith bury their dead within 24 hours, we had less than 12 hours on the ground before the president arrived. It was also the first time the Israelis actually sought our help. With 84 world leaders arriving, and with them in a state of shock, they allowed us to help in a much larger way than ever before. We not only had the usual entourage, but a congressional and private delegation.”
In 1997, Reffe joined the law firm Cutler & Stanfield. One year later, he founded his own law office to advise clients on federal and international matters.
Birx Is the Mother of 2 Children
These days, Reffe serves on the Board of Directors of the US Committee to Expand NATO.
He and his wife are grandparents and the parents to two children, something that Birx often mentions during briefings.
In fact, fans of Birx say “one of her core skills is this ability to weave personal narrative into complex political and medical questions honed during a career fighting HIV and AIDS that required her to be as comfortable talking to African patients as heads of state,” according to the Washington Examiner.
These days, the couple live in a multi-generational household with Birx’s parents, their daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren, according to the Capital Gazette.