The Family Friend: Valerie Jarrett

Jarrett has no formal title inside the campaign, other than senior adviser. Her place at the table comes from her long personal relationship with both Barack and Michelle Obama. She is the insider-outsider, a trusted friend who can give them a view from beyond the confines of the campaign bubble. Jarrett was brought into the campaign part time last fall (she's CEO of real-estate developer The Habitat Co.), when Obama was stuck 20 points behind Hillary Clinton and pundits were writing him off. "It's good to have someone saying, 'Why are you doing it that way?'" says strategist David Axelrod. Jarrett was Michelle Obama's mentor. An aide to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley in the 1990s, she hired Michelle away from her law firm to work for the city. A veteran of Chicago politics, Jarrett got her start working for Harold Washington, the city's first black mayor. Her grandfather ran the Chicago Housing Authority in the 1940s. Obama has long turned to her for advice. When he wanted to run for the U.S. Senate, he first had to convince Michelle and Jarrett that it was a good idea. He's been seeking her counsel ever since.