Chief of the Office of Protocol: Who Is Peter Selfridge?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Peter A. (Pete) Selfridge was nominated by President Barack Obama on December 13, 2013 to be the U.S. Department of State’s Chief of Protocol with the rank of Ambassador during his tenure in the job. The duties of the chief of protocol include greeting heads of state and government leaders, assisting presidential delegations in their overseas travel and planning summits and other multilateral events.

 

Selfridge is a native of Minnetonka, Minnesota. He began his career in Washington in 1993, shortly after earning his B.A. from the University of Iowa. His first job in the capital was as a staff assistant to Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), remaining in that job two years. One of his tasks while working for Harkin was once dressing in surgical gauze to illustrate Medicare payment practices. Selfridge moved to the White House in July 1995 to become director of correspondence in the office of scheduling and advance.

 

In 1997, Selfridge left for New York City, where he was a senior policy adviser in the city’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services. He left in 2000 to work for the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign. While on the campaign trail, Selfridge met Parita Shah, who would later become his wife.

 

Upon Gore’s loss of the election, Selfridge joined public relations firm Citigate Communications. He remained there until the start of the next presidential campaign, joining John Kerry’s campaign in August 2003 as the associate director of advance. During that campaign, he was reunited with Shah and the two began dating. They were married in 2007.

 

After Kerry also lost, Selfridge returned to the private sector, joining Rendezvous Consulting as communications director. In November 2007, he went to work for the William J. Clinton Foundation as its city director in Los Angeles.

 

Selfridge’s next stop was the Obama for America campaign in August 2008 as deputy director of advance. After President Obama’s inauguration, Selfridge was named Vice President Joe Biden’s director of advance.  In 2011, Selfridge was named special assistant to the President and deputy director of advance and later that year was named deputy assistant to the president and director of advance and operations at the White House.

 

While at the White House, Selfridge has become one of President Obama’s regular golf partners. In addition to his bachelor’s degree, Selfridge has a Master’s in International Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University. His wife was formerly a deputy director of public affairs in the Commerce Department, but now works for a public relations/lobbying firm.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Written Statement of Peter A. Selfridge Confirmation Hearing for Chief of Protocol of the United States (pdf)

Officially In: Peter A. Selfridge—From WH to State Dept’s Chief of Protocol (by Domani Spero, DiploPundit)

A Dream Realized (by Laurie Moore, University of Southern California)

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