Former Obama aide returns to UCMC

Two years after leaving the UCMC to work in the Obama administration, Susan Sher returns as Senior Adviser to President Zimmer and the hospital’s Executive VP for Corporate Strategy and Public Affairs.

By Matthew Schaefer

More than two years after leaving Hyde Park for the marbled halls of Washington, D.C., a former administrator at the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) has returned to advise a president of a different sort.

Susan Sher, formerly the UCMC’s vice president for legal and government affairs, was appointed August 1 as Senior Adviser to President Robert Zimmer and as the hospital’s Executive Vice President for Corporate Strategy and Public Affairs.

Sher left her position at the UCMC in January 2009 to serve as Associate Counsel to President Obama. A few months later, First Lady Michelle Obama appointed Sher as her Chief of Staff. A close friend of the Obamas, Sher provided legal advice to the First Lady and worked on health care policy issues for the President.

“I stayed two years, which was an understanding we had—that I would come back after two years,” Sher said. “I came back to my home, my husband, my life. It was never intended to be longer than that.”

Sher first met the First Lady when the two worked together at the UCMC, where Obama administrated in different positions. When Sher stepped down in November of last year, Obama called her a “dear friend.”

“I have been grateful every day for her leadership and wise counsel in Washington,” Obama said in a November 16 press release.

In the same release, President Obama also lauded Sher’s work on health care reform.

“Susan has brought tremendous skill and dedication to the First Lady’s office, as well as my Administration’s outreach to the Jewish community and our efforts to pass health care reform, and I thank her for her service,” he said.

From 1993 to 1997, Sher served as the Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago, the city’s top lawyer. During this time, she was responsible for representing the Mayor and the city’s various departments, boards, and commissions in all legal matters.

Sher said that she considered other opportunities after leaving the White House, but she was drawn back to Chicago.

“I felt like I was coming home,” Sher said.