Kristina Schake, a co-founder and board member of the group that filed the successful federal challenge to California’s ban on gay marriage, will be first lady Michelle Obama’s new communications director, the White House announced Monday.
Schake, 40, a strategist for California first lady Maria Shriver, fills a spot that has been vacant since the end of August, when Mrs. Obama’s first communications chief, Camille Johnston, left for a corporate position.
Schake is a co-founder of Griffin Schake, a Los Angeles public affairs and strategic communications firm. Schake has worked in California on obesity issues, Mrs. Obama’s signature policy initiative.
“Kristina has done extensive work throughout her career on child nutrition and community health issues, and that paired with her experience as part of a military family will bring invaluable insight to our work on childhood obesity and our efforts to support military families,” Mrs. Obama said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Kristina on these efforts and more in the months and years ahead.”
In moving to Washington, Schake, a Democrat, becomes part of a political odd couple. Her sister, Kori, is a veteran of George W. Bush’s administration and the McCain-Palin campaign. Kori Schake was director of defense strategy and requirements on the National Security Council between 2002 and 2005.
Kristina Schake brings to the East Wing a resume packed with work on children’s and health issues and big-time event marketing and planning experience, including Shriver’s annual women’s conference. Mrs. Obama was the keynote speaker for Shriver’s conference last October, talking about the challenges facing military spouses. Schake also was global communications director for the Live Earth concert series in 2007.
Schake comes to the East Wing after a federal judge ruled in favor of the challenge on California’s gay marriage ban — a legal bid to overturn what is known as Proposition 8 — mounted by an organization she helped create, the American Foundation for Equal Rights. She resigned from the board to join the Obama White House.