Margaret Peterlin, '00: Named Rex Tillerson's New Chief of Staff

One of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s most crucial missions is to ensure that the State Department he leads becomes an integral and influential part of the Trump administration and not an outpost of opposition to a White House set on radically altering U.S. foreign policy priorities. That strategy is playing out in his selection of key officials to manage his agency, including his new chief of staff.

The State Department workforce has good reason to be concerned about its relevance in Trump’s world. Trump’s executive order on immigration was crafted without significant State Department input, and Tillerson was reportedly baffled about not being consulted. When more than 900 department employees signed a dissent cable about the order, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said they should “either get with the program or they can go.”

Enter Margaret Peterlin, who State Department officials confirmed is Tillerson’s new chief of staff. Peterlin was with Trump before Tillerson came on to the scene. She helped guide Tillerson through his confirmation process, and the two developed a rapport. Now she will have the most important job at the State Department when it comes to managing the relationship between the secretary and the thousands of bureaucrats he leads.

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