WASHINGTON - A St. Louis native has a new job in the White House.
On Thursday, President-Elect Donald Trump named Katie Walsh as Deputy Chief of Staff to the White House.
Walsh, 32, grew up in St. Louis and graduated from Visitation Academy in 2003. Principal Barbara McMullen remembers a bright student always fascinated by politics.
“Even from an early age, I always saw her as one of those students that was always a little bit older, a little bit more mature in some ways. She had a sort of adult personality about her,” McMullen said.
“Am I surprised she is where she is at this age? Yes. But am I surprised she’s very successful? Not at all.”
Walsh left St. Louis to attend college at George Washington University in Washington D.C. Her resume includes working on campaigns for Senator John Ashcroft and Governor Matt Blunt. According to a press release, she also worked at the National Republican Senatorial Committee before joining the Republican National Committee in 2013.
Not long after joining the RNC, Walsh became Finance Director. In 2015, she became Chief of Staff for RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. Trump named Priebus as his new Chief of Staff, and as Deputy Chief of Staff for the White House, Walsh will work alongside him again.
Her role will involve overseeing senior staff, scheduling and the Office of Public Liason.
“The unbelievable success the Republican party had is built on the backs of a lot of really amazing men and women, and Katie’s been one of those leaders,” said longtime family friend and Republican National Advisor Jack Oliver.
Oliver said he first met Walsh and her family during Ashcroft’s 1994 Senate campaign. Oliver assisted during that campaign, then later served in more prominent roles, including the Deputy Chairman of the Republican National Convention and as the National Finance Director for President George Bush’s 2000 campaign.
Having worked for presidents, too, Oliver said Walsh has what it takes.
“As a quiet tactician, with great strength, but quiet strength, she has exactly the skill set to be a great leader for the president and one of the three most senior women in the White House today,” he said. “And at 32 years old – it’s a testament to her capacity, her character, and her competencies.”
Oliver said Walsh will bring a Midwest voice to the White House, and understands the importance of Missouri and its industries. He said her biggest challenge will be taking the expectations the American people have trying to bring that into a city that won’t easily change.
“Being a part of that team is a big responsibility. I know she’ll do a great job it and the president-elect is very fortunate to have her serve in that role.”
Walsh told NewsChannel 5 her mother's work in local government races inspired her to see women’s role in politics. She calls herself a “huge, huge, huge” Cardinals fan, and her favorite player is Yadier Molina.
Walsh said the second best night of her life was during Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. The best night of her life, she said, was her recent engagement.
Kelly Wuennenberg coached Walsh’s basketball team in middle school, but the pair bonded off the court. Wuennenberg said she was also Walsh’s confirmation sponsor, and the two are still very close.
“Part of what makes her a super-duper individual is her humility. She does not walk around and flaunt her resume. She just keeps her nose to the grindstone and gets everything done,” Wuennenberg said.
While serving a top role in a difficult political climate, Wuennenberg said Walsh will succeed.
“Katie is ready. She would never flinch on the basketball court. I would give her the ball and have full faith in her. And our country has now given her the ball, and its full speed ahead.”