Obama names Valerie Jarrett as senior adviser

WASHINGTON Jarrett, who hired Michelle Obama for a job in the Chicago mayor's office years ago, is one of the president-elect's closest friends and advisers. Her name has been floated for several top administration jobs. But Obama settled on the senior adviser role, said a person close to the president-elect and willing to speak only on background because the decision has not been officially announced.

It's not a bad birthday present for Jarrett. President-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle dropped by a celebration Friday night for their long-time friend and confidante.

The party was for her birthday, but no doubt she's also toasting the role she'll assume after the inauguration.

In a statement to ABC7, the former CTA chairwoman said, "I am deeply honored and humbled by the appointment and look forward to serving our great country. The best birthday present I could imagine."

A White House senior adviser can handle a range of duties. President George W. Bush's top political aide Karl Rove held the title in the current administration.

Jarrett has a background in real estate and politics in Chicago.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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