air force one white

‘I Basically Ran On Adrenaline’: A Staffer Remembers Obama’s White House

Former Obama staffer Alyssa Mastromonaco is well acquainted with the privilege — and sleeplessness — of working in the White House: “I basically ran on adrenaline, almost, for six years,” she says.

Mastromonaco began as President Obama’s director of scheduling and advance, then became his deputy chief of staff for operations. Her responsibilities ran the gamut from overseeing the confirmation process for cabinet secretaries to managing the president’s daily schedule and foreign travel.

Mastromonaco remembers boarding Air Force One for the first time as a “humbling, awe-inspiring” experience. “There is nothing like walking off the steps of Air Force One,” she says. “You always feel so proud. The reception, too, of other people in countries, when they see that beautiful blue and white plane, it always gives you goosebumps.”

But, she adds, the presidential plane wasn’t always the most comfortable way to travel — especially on overnight flights. “There aren’t beds for us on Air Force One,” Mastromonaco says. “We had those Snuggies that you buy on QVC and we would sleep on the floor … and then you’d get up and everybody shares two bathrooms.”

Though Mastromonaco loved her work for the president, the unrelenting pace took a toll on her. In 2014, she decided to move on. Now an executive at A&E networks, Mastromonaco revisits her White House years in the new memoir, Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?

Photo: Pete Souza/The White House