Where Mercy Girls Become Women of Mercy

From Mercy to the White House


She has one of the most unusual jobs in the world and the opportunity to hobnob with some of the world’s most influential leaders. Katie Bradley Waldo ’03 serves as senior associate director and trip manager in the White House Office of Scheduling and Advance. During this interview, she was planning President Obama’s historic trip to Cuba, the first visit from a sitting president since 1928. Yet she credits Mercy High School with being her guiding force, her North Star.

Katie may have been a shy and quiet kid in grade school, but at Mercy she says “I learned to fly.” She met young women who challenged her and remain some of her closest friends today. She remembers delivering turkeys for Operation Others, learning to lead as president of Student Council, translating “Kung Fu Fighting” into Spanish for Foreign Language Day, performing in “Godspell” and “Clue: The Musical,” serving dinner at a local shelter with Sr. Jeanne, competing in speech tournaments all over Nebraska, portraying Mother Catherine McAuley on Mercy Day, and traveling to the Pine Ridge Reservation, which was a powerful service learning trip for her.

“During my first visit to the school, I was impressed by the focus on service to others. I learned about “Day of Sharing” and the various volunteer opportunities offered. It felt like service was a part of the overall curriculum, not just an after school activity,” she said.

During this time she worked in operations in several states and escorted senior staff on Inauguration Day from the Capitol to the White House. She has had several jobs at the White House, starting at the bottom and working her way up. She spent five years in the White House Photo Office and helped to select unique behind-the-scenes photos of the presidency to share with the world.

In her current position she coordinates everything from summits around the world to the impromptu presidential visits to the local Chipotle down the street. She has seen the Northern Lights from Air Force One, toured Stonehenge, the Panama Canal and marched with the First Family in Selma, Alabama. And recently she did an advance trip for President Obama when he visited Omaha.

“When I came back to Omaha I was impressed to see some of my classmates back as staff and faculty at Mercy. This is a true testament to how graduates feel about their time spent between Pine and Woolworth,” she said.

Katie may have traveled all over the world but she knows her foundation came from Mercy.

“Simply put—Mercy gives young women the wings they need to make their dreams possible,” Katie said.