iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-
With Joe Biden elected as the 46th President of the United States, it was a historic moment in the making with a host of ‘firsts’, as for the first time ever a woman Kamala Harris would be sworn as the vice president of the country.
Harris, 56, is also the first-ever Indian-origin and African American to be sworn in as the vice president of the United States.
It is also for the first time ever that so many Indian-Americans have been roped into a presidential administration ever before the inauguration. Biden is still quite far away from filling all the positions in his administration.
Topping the list is Neera Tanden, who has been nominated as Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Tanden has worked on several Democratic presidential campaigns, including Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton. During the Obama administration, Tanden helped draft the Affordable Care Act.
Then there is Dr Vivek Murthy, who has been nominated as the US Surgeon General. Murthy, who founded the nonprofit Doctors for America in 2008, was the first surgeon general of Indian descent and was the youngest active-duty flag officer in federal uniformed service while serving in office.
Vanita Gupta, who is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, has been serving the public for more than 20 years. Formerly, she was a civil rights lawyer and the Deputy Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, where she oversaw its national criminal justice reform efforts. Gupta was nominated as Associate Attorney General Department of Justice.
One of the recent additions was the former foreign service official Uzra Zeya as the Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights. Prior to returning to the Department of State, where she served for nearly three decades, the veteran diplomat worked as the CEO and President of the Alliance for Peacebuilding, a nonprofit that works to end violent conflict and promotes peace globally.
Mala Adiga has been appointed as Policy Director to the future First Lady Dr Jill Biden. Previously, Adiga was Director for Higher Education and Military Families at the Biden Foundation. During the Obama-Biden administration, Adiga served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Academic Programs at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in the Secretary of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues as Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to the Ambassador-at-Large, and as Director for Human Rights on the National Security Staff.
Garima Verma would be the Digital Director of the Office of the First Lady. Verma, who was born in India, grew up in Ohio and the Central Valley of California. She served as an audience development and content strategist on the Biden-Harris campaign. Before joining the campaign, Verma was a volunteer with the content team, designing graphics for distribution to Biden-Harris volunteers across the country.
Sabrina Singh, a longtime aide to US Vice President Kamala Harris, has been named White House Deputy Press Secretary. Singh was earlier a senior spokesperson on the Mike Bloomberg presidential campaign and National Press Secretary for Cory Booker’s presidential campaign. In roles prior to that, she served as Deputy Communications Director for the Democratic National Committee, Spokesperson for American Bridge’s Trump War Room and Regional Communications Director on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
For the first time ever among the Indian-Americans include two who trace their roots to Kashmir.
The first is, Aisha Shah, who has been named as Partnership Manager at the White House Office of Digital Strategy. Raised in Louisiana, Shah previously served as digital partnerships manager in the Biden-Harris Campaign. She currently serves as an advancement specialist for the Smithsonian Institution.
And the other is, Sameera Fazili, who would occupy the key position of Deputy Director at the US National Economic Council (NEC) in the White House. Fazili was at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta where she served as the Director of Engagement for Community and Economic Development. In the Obama-Biden Administration, Fazili served as a senior policy advisor on the White House’s National Economic Council and as a senior advisor at the US Treasury Department in both Domestic Finance and International Affairs.
Bharat Ramamurti was named as Deputy Director by the White House National Economic Council. Ramamurti is the Managing Director of the Corporate Power program at the Roosevelt Institute. He was also appointed in April to serve on the Congressional Oversight Commission for the CARES Act by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Previously, Ramamurti was the top economic adviser to Senator Elizabeth Warren during her 2020 presidential campaign and senior counsel for banking and economic policy in her Senate office.
Gautam Raghavan, who served at the White House in the previous Obama Administration returns to the White House as Deputy Director in Office of Presidential Personnel. Prior to this, he worked as the Deputy Head of Presidential Appointments on the Biden’s transition team. Before joining the team last year, Raghavan served as Chief of Staff to Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-WA, for roughly two years.
Among Biden’s inner circle is his top confident for year Vinay Reddy was named as Director Speechwriting. Reddy served as chief speechwriter to Vice President Biden in the second term of the Obama-Biden White House, after which, he worked as Vice President of Strategic Communications at the National Basketball Association. He is the first ever Indian American to be appointed as a presidential speechwriter.
Tarun Chhabra, will serve as Senior Director for Technology and National Security. He is a first-generation American and a graduate of Stanford University, Oxford University, and Harvard Law School. He was previously a Fellow with the Project on International Order and Strategy at the Brookings Institution and a Visiting Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perry World House
Sumona Guha, a graduate of Johns Hopkins and Georgetown University, has been appointed as Senior Director for South Asia. Guha was co-chair of the South Asia foreign policy working group on the Biden-Harris campaign, and serves on the transition’s State Department Agency Review Team. Guha is Senior Vice President at Albright Stonebridge Group.
Shanthi Kalathil will be Coordinator for Democracy and Human Rights. Previously in her career, she served as a senior democracy fellow at the US Agency for International Development, an associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Hong Kong-based reporter for the Asian Wall Street Journal, and an advisor to international affairs organizations.
Vedant Patel was named as Assistant Press Secretary as part of White House communications and press staff. Patel was a senior spokesperson of the Biden Inaugural and has been a part of the Biden Campaign as well where he served as Regional Communications Director. During Biden’s primary campaign, Patel served as the Nevada and Western Primary-States Communications Director.
An expert on energy and climate change, Sonia Aggarwal, was named as the senior advisor for climate policy and innovation. She led America’s Power Plan, bringing together 200 electricity policy experts, at Energy Innovation, of which she was a co-founder and Vice President. Aggarwal also directed the team that developed the Energy Policy Simulator to analyze the environmental, economic, and public health impacts of climate and energy policies.
Health policy expert Vidur Sharma was named as a testing advisor in Biden’s COVID-19 Response Team. in an aim to intensify vaccinations across the country to tackle the spread of the deadly pandemic. During the Obama administration, Sharma served as a health policy advisor on the Domestic Policy Council.
Neha Gupta is the Associate Counsel in the Office of the White House Counsel. She served as a Deputy City Attorney in the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, where she was general counsel to several city agencies, litigated constitutional and statutory challenges to city laws and administrative decisions, and participated in the office’s affirmative public protection advocacy.
Reema Shah, who had served on the debate preparation team for Biden on the Biden-Harris Campaign, has been named as Deputy Associate Counsel. She was an associate at Latham & Watkins and a Bristow Fellow in the Office of the Solicitor General at the Department of Justice.
In addition to these 20 member Indian American team, some of the other South Asians in the Biden-Harris team include Pakistani-American Ali Zaidi as Deputy National Climate Advisor White House, Sri Lankan American Rohini Kosoglu as Domestic Policy Advisor to the Vice President and Bangladeshi-American Zayn Siddique as Senior Advisor to the White House Deputy Chief of Staff.