Melanie Roussell, Assistant Secretary, Public Affairs

Roussell came to the administration after working in the Obama campaign's communications shop in 2008, so when it was time for the president to try to re-up his contract, Roussell, 34, left her job as press secretary at HUD and became the Democratic National Committee's national press secretary. After another successful election cycle, she returned to the federal agency at Secretary Shaun Donovan's request, this time as HUD's assistant secretary for public affairs. Other departments are in the news more often, but it's Roussell's job to promote the work her president and secretary are doing in the field, including "accelerating and supporting" the housing-market recovery and overseeing the rebuilding effort after Hurricane Sandy. Hurricane recovery gave Roussell, who is from New Orleans, an early connection to HUD: She dealt with the department after Hurricane Katrina as a congressional aide in 2005. "Red tape and bureaucracy were a big problem from 2005 to 2009, slowing the recovery," Roussell said. "I can say we've come a long way since." Roussell has also served in communications positions for the House Judiciary Committee and the district attorney's office in New Orleans. She has a bachelor's degree from Florida A&M University and a master's from American University.