Mr. Harleth has held a series of hospitality-related jobs in New York City and Washington, and he had been with the Trump hotel in Washington since August, according to his LinkedIn profile.
“I look forward to applying my experience with hospitality, leadership, and political protocol in order to ensure the first family’s needs are met,” Mr. Harleth said in the statement released by the White House.
It is historically uncommon, but not unprecedented, for the first lady to turn to the hospitality industry to hire a chief usher. Angella Reid, an Obama administration appointee who was fired in May, assumed her role at the White House after working for the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain.
The job had been vacant since Ms. Reid was fired. She was the second African-American and the first woman to serve as chief usher and replaced Rear Adm. Stephen W. Rochon, who had served under the Obamas and President George W. Bush.
Ms. Reid and Admiral Rochon, who is retired, are two of three living former chief ushers. The other is Gary J. Walters, who served under four presidential administrations, beginning with the Reagan White House.
The modern revolving door of ushers signifies that a job that once transcended politics, with an emphasis on personal relationships and building trust, has changed with an increasingly divided political climate, according to Kate Andersen Brower, an author who wrote “The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House.”
“It used to be that people would stay and serve the next presidency,” Ms. Andersen Brower said, “and now it’s becoming like everything else, sort of partisan.”
Chief ushers are highly influential in the White House, and the most successful learn to master discretion — at least, after they acclimate to the hectic work lifestyle.
In a phone interview, Admiral Rochon, who was the first African-American to be chief usher, said Friday that his job had involved long days that began at 6:30 a.m. and lasted until late in the evening. When he was appointed in 2007, he said he was offered a salary equivalent to Mr. Bush’s chief of staff, which he said was roughly $200,000 a year.
Admiral Rochon said that former chief ushers tend to keep in touch and help current ones acclimate to the new job. But he said had not yet heard about Mr. Harleth’s hiring.
“That might be good if the president already knows him,” he said. “But that’s not enough, to be frank.”