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Ferial  Govashiri

Ferial Govashiri

Former Personal Aide to President Barack Obama, Chief of Staff to Chief Content Officer at Netflix

Ferial Govashiri

Former Personal Aide to President Barack Obama, Chief of Staff to Chief Content Officer at Netflix


Ferial Govashiri had one of the world’s most fascinating and demanding jobs: gate keeper to the Oval Office. As President Barack Obama’s personal aide and private secretary, she interfaced with national and global leaders, juggled crises, and observed the most powerful office on earth from its most intimate vantage point. Today, she creatively intertwines accounts of Oval Office events such as a private meeting between the President and the Pope with her own inspiring story as a child of immigrants seeking freedom and opportunity. Following her passions with confidence and conviction, Govashiri went on to challenge both convention and her parents’ expectations to pursue a career in the political limelight.

Born in Iran, Govashiri immigrated to the United States with her family when she was six months old. Her father, who had been a respected physician, had to completely start over in his new country, imparting lessons of hard work, tenacity and overcoming challenges that forever shaped Govashiri’s work ethic and ambitions. She studied political science at UC Irvine, working on local political campaigns and studying for the LSAT after graduation. Soon realizing that her heart was on the campaign trail and that law school was her parents’ dream, not her own, Govashiri gained their support to move to L.A. to work for The Strategy Group, a  political consulting firm. In 2007, she joined the presidential campaign of then-Senator Barack Obama. President Obama’s election led to eight-plus years of progressively important roles, from working on the Obama-Biden transition team to Senior Advisor to the chief of the National Security Council and Director of Visits. In 2014, Govashiri was named personal aide to the President of the United States, one of the most coveted jobs in Washington. In this role, she perfected the art of leadership and grace under immense pressure as the literal gate keeper of the Oval Office.

Now working as Chief of Staff to the Chief Content Officer at Netflix, Govashiri continues to run the show professionally while captivating audiences as a keynote speaker. Her presentations include inspiring tales of overcoming challenges, the value of diversity, leading with confidence, and the importance of trusting in yourself and your dreams. Govashiri is also a part of the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Directors. 

Speech Topics

From Iran to the Oval Office

Ferial Govashiri’s family fled Iran when she was an infant, just as the Ayatollah was sealing off the country’s borders. They arrived with almost nothing but their education and a strong belief that anything was possible in America. Her father, a respected physician, had to rebuild his career from scratch. In this inspiring talk, Govashiri shares how her family’s experience as immigrants and her own identity as a first-generation American empowered her to pursue her dreams, eventually becoming the gate keeper of the most powerful office in the world.

Tiny Cracks: Breaking the Glass Ceiling

As a young Iranian-American woman, Ferial Govashiri was a Washington game changer. As one of the few people to work alongside President Obama on a daily basis, she provides a unique perspective on how women can be successful and achieve positions that have been traditionally dominated by men. Govashiri shares her three rules to success: never cry, never run, and never raise your voice. She also expands on themes such as the power of confidence, determination and risk-taking in decision-making. Her extraordinary stories from behind the scenes of the nation’s most powerful office provide impactful takeaways and inspire women from all walks of life to take their careers to the next level.

Managing the Oval Office: Leading with Confidence

Ferial Govashiri had one of the most important roles in the White House: the power to decide who got to see The President of the United States. To be in such a high position, she had to demonstrate an unbreakable inner strength, which allowed her to manage some of the world’s most powerful leaders. In this speech, Ferial explains how she mastered the tenacity and decision-making needed in such a critical White House role. In addition, she shows audiences how to measure and take calculated risks, mitigate the failure of those risks and be more accepting of failure — all essential traits that contributed to her success.