Neera Tanden, who lives and breathes politics and policy

Neera Tandon, Photo credit: The American Bazaar

Neera Tanden is Biden’s nominee to run the Office of Management and Budget.

Neera Tanden was nominated as the next director of the Office of Management and Budget by President-elect Joe Biden on November 30, 2020. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Tanden would make history becoming both the first woman of color and the first South Asian American to lead the OMB.

Born in 1970, in Bedford, Massachusetts to Indian immigrants, Tanden’s early life was marked by struggle. When she was 5, her parents got divorced and her father moved back to India. Tanden and her older brother Raj were raised by their mom Maya, who worked as a travel agent.

It was these humble beginnings that helped to shape the rest of her political career. As a child, she and her family relied on food stamps and Section 8 housing for almost three years. The importance and value of these social safety nets has evidently not been lost to Tanden, now an advocate for policies designed to support working families, foster broad-based economic growth, and curb inequality.

A lifelong political junkie who dreams and breathes politics and policy, Tanden worked on the unsuccessful presidential campaign of Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis in 1988, while she was still a teenager.

Born: September 10, 1970
Party: Democratic Party
University of California, Los Angeles (BA, 1992); Yale Law School (JD, 1996)

After obtaining her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1992, and graduating from Yale Law School with a Juris Doctor in 1996, Tanden began her career as a political wonk working for the reelection campaign of President Bill Clinton.

After Clinton’s reelection, she landed a job at the White House press office. Soon Tanden moved to the domestic policy office as an associate director, where she got an opportunity to work with First Lady Hillary Clinton.

After the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, then the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, she helped the first lady draft policy on school safety, impressing Clinton.

One of the highlights of her young White House career was a wedding shower gave by the first lady at the Yellow Oval Room, in the East Wing of the White House, before she married Benjamin Edwards. Tanden and Edwards met at University of California, Los Angeles during freshman year. They have two children: daughter Ilina, who was born in 2002 and son Jaden, born in 2005.

In 1999, when Hillary Clinton was exploring to run for the U.S. Senate from New York, Tanden moved to the Big Apple. Eventually, she served as the successful campaign’s policy director and deputy campaign manager.

From 2003 to 2005, Tanden was Clinton’s legislative director. In 2008, during the former first lady’s unsuccessful presidential bid, Tanden served as a policy director, and in the general election campaign, she worked for Barack Obama as domestic policy director.

In the first Obama administration, Tanden worked for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as a senior advisor.  She was one of the policy gurus deeply involved in the  Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

In 2010, she rejoined the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, which she had helped found seven year earlier, as the chief operating officer. In November 2011, she succeeded John Podesta as the organization’s President and CEO.

During her 9 years as head of CAP, Tanden was a prolific fundraiser. In fact, her role as a fundraiser was scrutinized by the Washington Post in early December after she was picked by President-elect Joe Biden to run the budget office.

Career highlights:

Current position (since 2011): President and CEO, Center for American Progress
2009: Senior Advisor to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
2010: Chief Operating Office, Center for American Progress
2003 – 2005: Legislative director, Sen. Hillary Clinton


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Like Kamala, Neera stands on the shoulders of her Indian mother (December 2, 2020)

Indian American Neera Tanden tipped to head Biden’s budget office (November 30, 2020)

Hillary Clinton will never run for office again, says Indian American aide Neera Tanden (January 9, 2017)

Indian American Neera Tanden named co-chair of Hillary Clinton’s presidential transition team (August 16, 2016)

Neera Tanden likely to get key position in Hillary administration (July 29, 2016)

Indian American Neera Tanden addresses Democratic National Convention (July 27, 2016)

50th Anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’ – Pass Voting Rights Amendment Act: CAP President Neera Tanden (March 7, 2015)

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