Ben Rhodes

Photograph by Melissa Golden for Fortune; Grid Photo: Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images
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One of the last charter members of Team Obama remaining in the White House, the Manhattan native almost chose a career in fiction writing. Instead, he came to Washington for a job helping pen the 9/11 Commission Report and the Iraq Study Group Report. Entrée to the elite ranks of Democratic foreign policy thinkers yielded an introduction to then-Sen. Obama as he eyed a presidential bid, and Rhodes has been with him since, these days channeling the President’s voice on foreign affairs at a moment when the world appears to be melting down. Most recently, that meant drafting the uncharacteristically muscular speech the President delivered before the United Nations General Assembly in which he vowed to dismantle the ISIS “network of death.” Says Rhodes, “It’s the roadmap for where we’re trying to go and what we expect of others.” For a Q and A with Rhodes, see it here.