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Sep 25, 2020 Washington, D.C.

The White House Historical Association has released a special episode of The 1600 Sessions podcast, “White House Transitions.” In this episode, Association President Stewart McLaurin speaks with Tina Tchen and Martha Kumar about the history and evolution of presidential transitions.

Tina Tchen previously served as chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama, executive director of President Obama’s Council on Women and Girls and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. Martha Kumar, a professor at Towson University and an award-winning author, is the director of the White House Transition Project, which documents and guides administrations on how to conduct the presidential transition process. Both Tchen and Kumar are on the Board of Directors of the White House Historical Association.

“I served all eight years in the Obama White House, and so I saw the transition going in, in late 2008, and early 2009, what you do when you’re kind of in a re-elect mode in 2012, and then when you know you’re leaving in 2016,” stated Tchen.

Kumar, reflecting on the beginning of the White House Transition Project, commented “[W]e started with a group of presidency scholars who were political scientists. What we did was work on essays about each of the White House offices that are crucial to a good start. We interviewed people who were directors of the offices, and wrote up pieces that discussed the functions of the office over time, and the responsibilities of the directors, how they saw their work, what their office is about, what the opportunities are, what the hazards are.”

Listen to the full episode here.

The 1600 Sessions

In this podcast series, White House Historical Association President Stewart McLaurin interviews luminaries, historians, and eyewitnesses to history about America’s most famous residence and office—the White House. Each episode includes a prominent guest or guests to discuss varying facets of White House history, including insights from former staff and many other topical issues.

The 1600 Sessions is available on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify and Stitcher. To hear the full episode, visit

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About the white house historical association

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the nonprofit, nonpartisan White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $50 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission.

To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit

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