Black Talent Initiative

The Black Talent Initiative (BTI) is the largest database of Black talent in the United States for presidential appointments. We are working with the incoming President’s administration to identify a pool of top Black candidates for positions in government who will make decisions that could trigger long-term systemic change in federal policies and practices. 

African Americans account for about 20% of Democratic voters but are regularly underrepresented in both Democratic and Republican administrations. For example, African Americans accounted for only 9% of the senior political appointees in 2009 (Obama Administration), and 4% of senior political appointees a year earlier (G.W. Bush Administration).  

Therefore, we are building on our 2016 transition efforts by convening over 45 Black-led organizations to work on presidential appointments. Our staff and advisory board bring extensive expertise in presidential personnel appointments, (including knowledge of agencies, positions, and the selection and vetting processes). With the help of our partners, we are positioned to provide hundreds of candidates to the administration for positions at the White House, executive branch agencies, independent agencies, and the judiciary.

Apply Here

Want us to consider recommending you to the incoming Administration?  Apply here.

Disclaimer: BTI’s form is not a formal application for a position in the Biden-Administration. We highly recommend you fill out the White House form and apply for the position you are interested in through USAjobs.gov or the agency’s career page.

Political Appointment Process

Thinking about a career in public service? Review the materials below to explore whether serving in government is right for you.

The Biden-Harris administration will have over 4000 political appointments. We recommend these resources to anyone exploring whether public service is a good fit. 

First, get an overview of the key steps in the appointment process. Then, get a snapshot of the levels of positions (e.g., PAS, PA, SES, Schedule C) and tips on what to do and not do in seeking a political appointment. As you move deeper into the process, explore the specific positions available in the Plum Book

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Watch our video to learn more

Join Our Efforts

The Black Talent Initiative’s work is powered by our incredible group of partners.  If you would like to join in and support our efforts, contact us below.

100-Day Report on Black Appointments in Biden Administration

The Biden Administration reported on its progress over the first 100 days, and announced that of “the approximately 1,500 agency appointees hired by President Biden so far… 18% identify as Black or African American.” It did not disclose the percentage of leadership positions held by African Americans, such as nominations for Senate-confirmed positions, or appointments to senior executive service or senior White House positions. A Joint Center report revealed the Biden Administration’s accomplishments on Black appointments (e.g., several historic “firsts,” five Black deputy secretaries, three Black women appellate judge nominees) and areas for growth (more Black representation in economic and tech policy top leadership as well as various types of Assistant Secretary and Senior Executive Service leadership positions, and data disaggregation and disclosure of Black appointments by agency, position, and gender). Read the full report here.


 

Report Card on Biden Administration Black Assistant Secretary and Under Secretary Nominations

Our analysis found that while Black Americans accounted for 22 percent of Americans who voted for Biden in the 2020 general election, Black Americans accounted for only 16 percent of Biden’s Assistant Secretary nominees and 13 percent of his Under Secretary nominees. However, President Biden’s nominees for these positions exceed the Black share of all of those who were nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate in 2009 (9 percent).

Read the report here.


 

Report Card on Black Chiefs of Staff to Cabinet Secretaries in the Biden Administration

Of the 15 appointees who serve as chief of staff to a cabinet secretary in the Biden administration, only two are Black—just 13 percent of all chiefs of staff. By comparison, approximately 22 percent of President Biden’s votes during the 2020 general election were from the Black community. The two Black chiefs of staff, Jenn Jones and Tanya Bradsher—both women—are employed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs, respectively.

Chiefs of staff are key actors in implementing the administration’s and the secretaries’ priorities, and they can play critical roles in determining the extent of Black appointments within an agency. Chiefs of staff often serve as principal advisors to department secretaries on political appointments and act as gatekeepers to determine which candidates are considered by the secretary. A chief’s regular interactions with division and department leaders can also help create an inclusive culture that actively works to recruit, retain, develop, and promote racially diverse appointees.

Read the report here.

The Black Talent Initiative is powered by our esteemed partner organizations. Our combined efforts have resulted in a collection of resumes that have been submitted to serve in high-ranking White House, cabinet, and subcabinet positions. Our work is reflected in the statement below from John Jones, the former head of African American appointments on the Clinton-Kaine Transition Team:

John Jones

The Joint Center’s Black Talent Initiative was an invaluable resource to the Clinton-Kaine Transition Team in 2016. The Joint Center’s extensive experience in working with the Obama-Biden Transition team in 2008 and its track record of promoting the inclusion of African Americans in government leadership positions uniquely positioned it to assist with one of my core responsibilities for the transition team—assembling names for appointments of talented Black people for positions in a potential new administration. The Joint Center’s familiarity with the organizational structure of executive branch agencies and the White House—as well as its understanding of the political appointment process—allows it to take on this work through an informed lens of how government functions and what type of talent is needed in critical roles. The Joint Center’s deep relationships with Black government officials with federal executive branch, the judicial branch, and congressional experience allowed it to identify and submit experienced high-quality Black talent who would be ready to go on day one. The Black Talent Initiative’s deep collaboration with over 30 other Black and civil rights-focused organizations from around the nation ensured that various voices and priorities were heard and considered in the process and that the pool of candidates submitted included many talented people who were outside of the Beltway and had not previously served in the federal government. The Joint Center’s constant advice, expertise, and engagement of various Black organizations allowed the Clinton-Kaine Transition team to be more effective in representing the interests of Black communities.

John H. Jones
Co-Director, Outreach and Engagement
2016 Clinton-Kaine Transition Team

Political Appointment Process

Thinking about a career in public service? Review the materials below to explore whether serving in government is right for you.

The Biden-Harris administration will have over 4000 political appointments. We recommend these resources to anyone exploring whether public service is a good fit. 

First, get an overview of the key steps in the appointment process. Then, get a snapshot of the levels of positions (e.g., PAS, PA, SES, Schedule C) and tips on what to do and not do in seeking a political appointment. As you move deeper into the process, explore the specific positions available in the Plum Book

Political Appointment Process

Thinking about a career in public service? Review the materials below to explore whether serving in government is right for you.

The Biden-Harris administration will have over 4000 political appointments. We recommend these resources to anyone exploring whether public service is a good fit. 

First, get an overview of the key steps in the appointment process. Then, get a snapshot of the levels of positions (e.g., PAS, PA, SES, Schedule C) and tips on what to do and not do in seeking a political appointment. As you move deeper into the process, explore the specific positions available in the Plum Book

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Adam Hodge

Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Media and Public Affairs

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Amanda Finney

Chief of Staff for the Press Office and Special Assistant to the Press Secretary

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Antwaun Griffin

Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Commerce on COVID-19

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Brenda Mallory

Chair of the Council of Environmental Quality

Cecilia Rouse
Cecilia Rouse

Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers

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Christian Peele

Deputy Director of Management and Administration for Personnel

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Deanne Millison

Deputy Policy Director in the Office of the Vice President

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Elizabeth Wilkins

Senior Advisor to the Chief of Staff at the White House

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Jaimie McFarlin

Deputy Associate Counsel at the White House

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Janelle Jones

Chief Economist at the Department of Labor

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Joelle Gamble

Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy

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Kimberly McClain

Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs at the Department of Veterans Affairs

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Linda Thomas-Greenfield

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

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The Honorable Marcia Fudge

Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development

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Michelle Asha Cooper

Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Post Secondary Education at the Department of Education

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Paige Hill

Senior Regional Communications Director in the White House

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Shalanda Baker

Deputy Director for Energy Justice at the Department of Energy

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Symone Sanders

Senior Advisor and Chief Spokesperson for the Vice President

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William Desmond

Senior Counsel at the Department of Education

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Adewale “Wally” Adeyamo

Deputy Secretary of Treasury

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Amijah Townsend-Holmes

Press Assistant in the White House

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Ashley Etienne

Communications Director for the Vice President

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Cameron Trimble

Director of Digital Engagement at the White House

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Cedric Richmond

Senior Advisor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement

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Clarke Humphrey

Digital Director for the COVID-19 Response Team in the White House

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Don Graves

Deputy Secretary of Commerce

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Erin Wilson

Deputy Director of Political Strategy and Outreach

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Jalina Porter

Deputy Spokesperson at the Department of State

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Jasmine Bolton

Senior Counsel in the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education

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Justin Dews

Deputy Associate Counsel to the President

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Kristen Clarke

Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice

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General Lloyd Austin

Secretary of the Department of Defense

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Melissa Bryant

Senior Advisor in the Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs at the Department of Veterans Affairs

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Natalie Evans Harris

Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Commerce

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Robert "Monty" Wilkinson

Director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys

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Shalanda Young

Deputy Director in the Office of Management and Budget

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Terrence Hayes

Press Secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs

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Vincent Evans

Deputy Director of the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs

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Al Stewart

Acting Secretary of Labor

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Angela Hanks

Counselor to the Secretary of Labor

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Ashley Williams

Deputy Director of Oval Office Operations

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Carahna Magwood

Creative Director in the Office of Digital Strategy in the White House

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Chauncey T. Alexander

Special Assistant in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the Department of Education

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Danielle Conley

Deputy Counsel to the President

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Donna Harris-Aikens

Senior Advisor for Policy and Planning at the Department of Education

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Funmi Olorunnipa Badejo

Associate Counsel to the President

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Jamila Thompson

Senior Advisor to the U.S. Trade Representative

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Jewel H. Bronaugh

Deputy Secretary at the Department of Agriculture

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Karen Andre

Special Assistant to the President for Presidential Personnel

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Kristin Slevin

Director of Scheduling at the Department of Energy

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Maha Ghandour

Digital Partnerships Manager in the Office of Digital Strategy in the White House

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Michael Leach

Chief Diversity and Inclusion Director in the Office of Management and Administration

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Olugbenga Ajilore

Senior Advisor at the Department of Agriculture

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Samiyyah Ali

Deputy Associate Counsel to the President

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Shuwanza Goff

Deputy Director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs

Chief of Staff Tina Flournoy
Tina Flournoy

Chief of Staff to the Vice President

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Yohannes Abraham

Chief of Staff and Executive Secretary of the White House National Security Council

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Alondra Nelson

Deputy Director for Science and Society at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

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Anthony Coley

Senior Advisor and Lead of Public Affairs at the Department of Justice

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Bonnie Jenkins

Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Affairs at the Department of State

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Carlton Waterhouse

Deputy Assistant Administrator for Land and Emergency Management at the Environmental Protection Agency

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Chelsey Cartwright

Deputy White House Liaison at the Department of the Interior

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Danielle Okai

Senior Associate Director in the Office of Presidential Personnel

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Dorien Paul Blythers

Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at the Environmental Protection Agency

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Glenn Johnson

Acting Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs at the Department of Veterans Affairs

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Janea Scott

Senior Counselor to the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals at the Department of the Interior

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Joanna Darcus

Senior Counsel at the Department of Education

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Karine Jean-Pierre

Principal Deputy Press Secretary

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Lauren Moore

Associate Counsel to the President

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Marcella Nunez-Smith

Equity Task Force Chair for the COVID-19 Response Team in the White House

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Michael Regan

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator

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Osaremen Okolo

Policy Advisor in the Office of COVID-19 Response at the White House

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Samuel Negatu

Director of Congressional Affairs in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

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The Honorable Susan Rice

Head of the White House Domestic Policy Council

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Tona Boyd

Special Counsel to the President

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Zephranie Buetow

Special Assistant to the President and Senate Legislative Affairs Liaison

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Adam Hodge

Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Media and Public Affairs

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Al Stewart

Acting Secretary of Labor

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Amanda Finney

Chief of Staff for the Press Office and Special Assistant to the Press Secretary

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Angela Hanks

Counselor to the Secretary of Labor

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Antwaun Griffin

Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Commerce on COVID-19

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Ashley Williams

Deputy Director of Oval Office Operations

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Brenda Mallory

Chair of the Council of Environmental Quality

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Carahna Magwood

Creative Director in the Office of Digital Strategy in the White House

Cecilia Rouse
Cecilia Rouse

Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers

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Chauncey T. Alexander

Special Assistant in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the Department of Education

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Christian Peele

Deputy Director of Management and Administration for Personnel

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Danielle Conley

Deputy Counsel to the President

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Deanne Millison

Deputy Policy Director in the Office of the Vice President

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Donna Harris-Aikens

Senior Advisor for Policy and Planning at the Department of Education

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Elizabeth Wilkins

Senior Advisor to the Chief of Staff

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Funmi Olorunnipa Badejo

Associate Counsel to the President

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Jaimie McFarlin

Deputy Associate Counsel in the White House

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Jamila Thompson

Senior Advisor to the U.S. Trade Representative

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Janelle Jones

Chief Economist at the Department of Labor

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Jewel H. Bronaugh

Deputy Secretary at the Department of Agriculture

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Joelle Gamble

Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy

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Karen Andre

Special Assistant to the President for Presidential Personnel

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Kimberly McClain

Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs at the Department of Veterans Affairs

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Kristin Slevin

Director of Scheduling at the Department of Energy

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Linda Thomas-Greenfield

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

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Maha Ghandour

Digital Partnerships Manager in the Office of Digital Strategy in the White House

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The Honorable Marcia Fudge

Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development

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Michael Leach

Chief Diversity and Inclusion Director

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Michelle Asha Cooper

Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Postsecondary Education at the Department of Education

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Olugbenga Ajilore

Senior Advisor at the Department of Agriculture

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Paige Hill

Senior Regional Communications Director in the White House

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Samiyyah Ali

Deputy Associate Counsel to the President

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Shalanda Baker

Deputy Director for Energy Justice at the Department of Energy

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Shuwanza Goff

Deputy Director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs

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Symone Sanders

Senior Advisor and Chief Spokesperson for the Vice President

Chief of Staff Tina Flournoy
Tina Flournoy

Chief of Staff to the Vice President

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Vincent Evans

Deputy Director of the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs

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Yohannes Abraham

Chief of Staff and Executive Secretary of the White House National Security Council

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Adewale “Wally” Adeyamo

Deputy Secretary of Treasury

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Alondra Nelson

Deputy Director for Science and Society at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

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Amijah Townsend-Holmes

Press Assistant in the White House

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Anthony Coley

Senior Advisor and Lead of Public Affairs at the Department of Justice

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Ashley Etienne

Communications Director for the Vice President

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Bonnie Jenkins

Under Secretary of Arms Control and International Security Affairs at the Department of State

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Cameron Trimble

Director of Digital Engagement at the White House

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Carlton Waterhouse

Deputy Assistant Administrator for Land and Emergency Management at the Environmental Protection Agency

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Cedric Richmond

Senior Advisor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement

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Chelsey Cartwright

Deputy White House Liaison at the Department of the Interior

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Clarke Humphrey

Digital Director for the COVID-19 Response Team in the White House

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Danielle Okai

Senior Associate Director in the Office of Presidential Personnel

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Don Graves

Deputy Secretary of Commerce

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Dorien Paul Blythers

Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at the Environmental Protection Agency

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Erin Wilson

Deputy Director of Political Strategy and Outreach

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Glenn Johnson

Acting Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs

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Jalina Porter

Deputy Spokesperson at the Department of State

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Janea Scott

Senior Counselor to the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals at the Department of the Interior

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Jasmine Bolton

Senior Counsel in the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education

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Joanna Darcus

Senior Counsel at the Department of Education

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Justin Dews

Deputy Associate Counsel to the President

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Karine Jean-Pierre

Principal Deputy Press Secretary

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Kristen Clarke

Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice

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Lauren Moore

Associate Counsel to the President

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General Loyd Austin

Secretary of the Department of Defense

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Marcella Nunez-Smith

Equity Task Force Chair for the COVID-19 Response Team in the White House

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Melissa Bryant

Senior Advisor in the Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs in the Department of Veterans Affairs

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Michael Regan

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator

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Natalie Evans Harris

Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Commerce

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Osaremen Okolo

Policy Advisor in the Office of COVID-19 Response at the White House

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Robert "Monty" Wilkinson

Director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys

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Samuel Negatu

Director of Congressional Affairs in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

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Shalanda Young

Deputy Director in the Office of Management and Budget

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The Honorable Susan Rice

Head of the White House Domestic Policy Council

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Terrence Hayes

Press Secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs

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Tona Boyd

Special Counsel to the President

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William Desmond

Senior Counsel at the Department of Education

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Zephranie Buetow

Special Assistant to the President and Senate Legislative Affairs Liaison

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