US President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in as the 46th President and 49th Vice President of the United States, respectively, on January 20, 2021. As Inauguration Day draws close, the Biden-Harris administration is all set for the economic and pandemic-related challenges that await them. However, the incoming administration team is in news for all the right reasons as of now.
In November last year, it was announced that an all-women team of White House staffers will serve in senior communication roles. Biden’s office claims that this will be the first time the communications positions will be filled entirely by women. Also, among the 100 members of President Biden’s agency review team, over half the members are women who represent communities of color, LGBTQ+, and people with special abilities. Besides, his agency review team, which is responsible for evaluating the operations of the federal agencies, includes more than 20-Indian American as members, of which three are his team leads.
So far Biden administration has nominated many Indian-American people, several of which are women, in key administrative roles.
Here’s a list of Indian-American women who are part of Biden administration, and the portfolios they will hold.
Kamala Devi Harris is the first black, South-Asian, and woman Vice-President-elect of the United States. She is the second African American woman and the first South Asian American to serve in the United States Senate, after contesting and winning in 2016 from California. Harris has also served as the Attorney General of California between 2011 and 2017. In 2004, she ran for the seat of District Attorney of San Francisco and won. With 56 percent of the vote, she became the first person of color to be elected as District attorney of San Francisco. Read more about her here.
Tanden will be the first woman of colour and the first South Asian American to head the influential Office of Management and Budget at the White House. She has previously served at the Department of Health and Human Services, as the domestic policy director for the Obama-Biden presidential campaign. Tanden also worked with Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential bid. Read about it more here.
Ahuja has been named as a member of the Joe Biden Presidential transition team. Ahuja is entitled to support all transition efforts related to the Office of Personnel Management. She has been made the head of the team that will deal with the US federal administration’s human resources agency, the federal office for investigations into civil service, and the protection of whistleblowers. Read more about her here.
In November 2020, Mala Adiga was named as a member of Joe Biden’s Presidential transition team. Adiga was chosen as the policy director for Jill Biden, wife of President-elect Joe Biden. Adiga belongs to the family of K Suryanarayana Adiga, founder of the former undivided Dakshina Kannada district’s private sector bank, Karnataka Bank Ltd. Read more about her here.
Part of Joe Biden’s Presidential transition team, Nanda is to help with the transition over the US Department of Labor, where she has worked on various issues, including employee engagement, wage and hour, fair pay, workforce development, immigration. Previously, she has also headed the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice Read more about Seema Nanda here.
Dr Bhavya Lal was elected as a member of Joe Biden’s Presidential transition team in November 2020 to help with the transition over NASA in the upcoming US government. Dr Lal is a leading researcher at the IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute for the White House Office of Science and Technology. She is also an active member of the space technology and policy community and has also served on the National Academy of Science (NAS) committees. Besides, she also has written articles for The Economist, National Geographic, Space News, and other prestigious publications. Read about her here.
Rama Zakaria was elected as a senior manager of regulatory policy and analysis at the Environmental Defense Fund. Reportedly, Zakaria has been a part of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as an adviser to Obama appointee Norman Bay. Additionally, She was also deputy associate director for energy and climate change at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Dr Celine R Gounder
Dr Celine R Gounder was named as a member of the COVID-19 taskforce of US President-elect Joe Biden in November last year. 43-year-old Gounder is presently an assistant professor at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine. She is a practising HIV/infectious diseases specialist and internist. Gaounder was named one of People Magazine’s 25 Women Changing the World in 2017 owing to her contributions to medicine and public health. Read about her more here.
Former Press Secretary to Kamala Harris, Sabrina Singh was named White House Deputy Press Secretary Joe Biden administration in January this year. Singh has previously worked on Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign as a senior spokesperson. Singh became the first person of Indian origin in the US to be appointed as the press secretary for her vice-presidential campaign when Kamala Harris appointed her for the said portfolio in August last year. Read about her here.
Zeya, who traces her roots to Kashmir, was nominated as the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights on January 17. She quit her post as an Indian-American diplomat at the State Department in 2018 in protest of Donal Trump’s racist policies.
Verma was named as the digital director for First Lady Jill Biden in January. She has previously served as audience development and content strategist on the Biden-Harris campaign. Prior to that, working as a volunteer with the content team, Verma helped with designing graphics for distribution to Biden-Harris volunteers across the US.
In December Shah was named as Partnerships Manager at the White House Office of Digital Strategy. She has previously served as digital partnerships manager in the Biden-Harris Campaign and prior to that, she was working as an assistant manager on the Corporate Fund of the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Another woman of Kashmiri-origin to find a spot on Biden administration, Fazili has been appointed the deputy director of the National Economic Council at the White House. Right now she is working as the economic agency lead on the Biden-Harris Transition team. She has previously served as the director of engagement for community and economic development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
Image Credit: Mother Jones