Jennifer O’Malley Dillon speaks with Mr. Walsh’s Class


Fiona Morrison

Jen O’Malley Dillon speaks to Mr. Walsh’s AP Government class over Zoom.

Recently, Mr. Walsh’s class had the fantastic opportunity to speak via Zoom with Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, the current deputy chief of staff in the Biden administration and FHS alumnus. O’Malley Dillon talked to the class about her time at Franklin High School, her daily work, important things she has been a part of, advice she has, and of course answered a few questions.

Life as the Deputy Chief of Staff at the White House is full of bustling days filled with everything from hiring personnel to dealing with international affairs. According to O’Malley Dillon, she runs and oversees daily operations at the White House. This includes helping solve large-scale issues such as problems with Ukraine, climate change, and inflation, traveling with the president to support and plan his visits, and running the military office. Although this seems very stressful to most, O’Malley Dillon loves politics, and being right in the middle of it all seems to be where she is most at home.

O’Malley Dillon’s hard work paid off when she helped pull of a successful campaign with the Biden Administration. (Flickr/Creative Commons)

Today, O’Malley Dillon is working with the president and coming up with solutions for big issues faced in America. She travels the world along with the President and his cabinet members as they handle international diplomacy and affairs. However, she would never have seen herself in such a large position two years ago. Before becoming the deputy chief of staff, O’Malley Dillion worked on many different political campaigns. She first volunteered for Bill Clinton’s primary campaign in New Hampshire and later interned for members of Congress. She has participated in campaigns in Florida, South Dakota, Missouri, and Iowa. Throughout her career, she traveled the country and got to know new people, places, and ideas that she was previously sheltered from. She stated that she was able to learn about what people actually cared about and how to connect with different groups of people. Over the years she has worked on many campaigns but said her favorite campaign was Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign. In the past 12 years, she has been a part of a presidential campaign, working with Barack Obama in 2012 and more recently Joe Biden.

Since Joe Biden’s campaign was run mostly over Covid, it was less traditional with O’Malley Dillon running it from her attic. After her successful campaign and Biden’s election, O’Malley Dillon was named Deputy Chief of Staff. As she stated on the call, it has taken her 20 years to get where she is, and she is honored to do what she does. She has been involved in many projects during her time at the White House. When Covid was infecting those throughout the country, O’Malley Dillon took part in finding solutions to make vaccines and testing available to all people. She has traveled around the world with the president to places like Bali. Recently she has worked on issues such as immigration.

I don’t just talk about making lives better I am part of that

— Jen O'Malley Dillon

One of the coolest things about Jennifer O’Malley Dillon is that she went to Franklin High School! A 1994 graduate, she is one of, if not the, most famous and influential FHS alumni. From living in Franklin, she does feel she was sheltered in comparison to the many cities she has visited in her career but she appreciates her childhood. O’Malley Dillon is the daughter of Kevin O’Malley who was then the assistant principal at Franklin High, and although she was okay at school, O’Malley Dillon loved softball and continues to value determination and teamwork in her job today. 

O’Malley Dillon travels the world with the President but spends most of her time in her office inside the White House. (Wikimedia commons)

Jennifer O’Malley Dillon also provided the class with a lot of advice and ways to stay active in politics and government. To O’Malley Dillon, “voting is the most personal thing you can have”, and it is also an easy way for a lot of people to stay involved in the local and federal government, Believing in the “values in different opinions”, she suggests taking perspectives into account and getting new from many different sources when trying to educate oneself on today’s issues.

O’Malley also believes in standing up for what you believe in and encourages others saying, “You have the power and you don’t need to wait your turn to have a voice”. Additionally, O’Malley Dillon talked about her love for her job and not always knowing what she wanted to do in High School. She suggests not worrying “so much about getting in the right college or doing the right extracurriculars” but rather “[doing] things that you love” – powerful advice and ideas that many often lose sight of when thinking about their future. She believes in gaining experience in areas that you are passionate about. Her advice is not just contained in what she does but is relevant in all of life.

Every day I wake up a do something I believe in

— Jen O'Malley Dillon

Passionate and dedicated, O’Malley Dillon is a great role model for all –  especially those with a passion for politics and a desire to work in government.