The Real West Wing
Alumna Keeps the President on Schedule
By Michelle Nery, B.A. '97
Every weekday morning at 6:30 a.m., Linda Gambatesa, B.S. Management '87, walks through the lobby of the West Wing of the White House to a desk near a window overlooking the Rose Garden. "I pinch myself every time I walk down the colonnade heading toward the West Wing and imagine all the history that has taken place there," says Gambatesa.
She became the deputy assistant to the president and director of Oval Office Operations on January 20, 2001. Part of a three-member team that includes the president's personal aide and personal secretary, Gambatesa interacts with President Bush daily.
"This is the job of a lifetime," says Gambatesa. "There is no higher privilege or honor than having the opportunity to work for the president of the United States. I have a strong sense of patriotism and believe in this president and his administration. Being around smart, talented, and disciplined people on a daily basis is energizing," she says.
Gambatesa and her team support the president daily by managing his daily schedule, handling his personal appointments, telephone calls, and correspondence, as well as communications with the First Lady's office, other White House offices, cabinet members' offices, congressional offices, and more. She also coordinates guests invited to Camp David and gifts for foreign visits.
Gambatesa previously worked at the Presidential Transition Office and the U.S. Department of Transportation, and for the administrations of President George H.W. Bush and President Reagan.
"Much of my good fortune comes from having worked for Andrew H. Card Jr., who is currently the chief of staff to the president," she says. "He is very good at giving people the chance to grow and take on new challenges in their jobs. So when he asked me to work with him on many subsequent occasions at different organizations, I was thrilled to do so."
Gambatesa attended George Mason part time at night while working full time in the Intergovernmental Affairs Office at the White House. "Unfortunately, this approach does not allow one the chance to become fully engaged in campus life or get to know professors and students very well. Nevertheless, I think my management degree helped give me a solid background to help me meet my various employment obligations. Many of the courses were very interesting and provided good general knowledge, including business law, general management, and finance."
Gambatesa was working at the White House on September 11 and notes, "Many things have changed since that day, such as tighter security, new tour procedures, mail challenges, and so on. But, working for such a great leader and his capable team is still an honor.
"I am even prouder to come to work every day at the White House and am happy to contribute in whatever small way I can. I feel even more strongly about what a great country this is, and it is heartening to see the way the country pitched in to help those in need and to witness the renewed sense of patriotism. I am very lucky and blessed to be here."