In addition to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, at least 20 other Indian Americans are set to serve in the Biden White House in various roles.
No previous president began his term with as many Indian Americans serving in the administration as Joe Biden. Apart from Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who’s the daughter of an Indian American mother and Jamaican American father, the Biden team will have at least 18 Indian Americans. Here is a list of Indian Americans who are part of the Biden administration:
Director of the Office of Management and Budget
President-elect Joe Biden nominated Neera Tanden to be the next director of the Office of Management and Budget on November 30, 2020. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she 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, obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1992, and a law degree from Yale Law School in 1996. She worked for the campaign of President Bill Clinton, who was seeking reelection that year. The following year, she landed a job at the White House press office. Later, Tanden joined the White House domestic policy office as an associate director.
In 2000, she served as a policy director and deputy campaign manager for former First Lady Hillary Clinton’s victorious senatorial bid from New York. She went on to work for the newly elected senator as a legislative director from 2003 to 2005. During Clinton’s first presidential run in 2008, 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 was one of the point persons on the Affordable Care Act, as a senior advisor to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
In 2010, she joined the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, as the chief operating officer. In November 2011, she succeeded John Podesta as the organization’s President and CEO.
Surgeon General of the United States
Vivek Murthy was nominated as the next US Surgeon General, a role he previously held during the Obama administration, by President-elect Joe Biden on December 7, 2020.
Currently serving as a member of Biden’s team, as co-chair of the COVID task force, Murthy will reprise the role he held from 2014-2017, albeit with more responsibility.
If confirmed, this time around Murthy will be a part of a team responsible for responding to the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed the lives of more than 280,000 Americans and hospitalized millions more.
Murthy could face difficulty in receiving a confirmation from the senate however, given the opposition he faced during his Senate confirmation process in 2014.
Born in England to Indian immigrants, Murthy was raised in Miami after his parents moved to the US to establish their medical practice. After earning his BA in biochemical sciences and graduating magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1997, Murthy received his MD from Yale School of Medicine and his MBA from Yale School of Management.
As an 18-year old freshman at Harvard, Murthy co-founded VISIONS Worldwide, a non-profit organization aimed to raise HIV/AIDs education in the US and India, with his sister Rashmi.
Asociate attorney general
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Associate Attorney General, Vanita Gupta would make history, becoming the first woman of color to serve in that person.
The civil rights attorney previously served as an acting assistant attorney general and head of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice. Currently she is the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights civil rights coalition.
After earning her BA and graduating magna cum laude from Yale University and earning a JD from the New York University (NYU) School of Law, she started her career at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense & Educational Fund. Gupta then joined the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), where she led the Smart Justice Campaign aimed at ending mass incarceration.
From October 2014 to January 2017, Gupta served as the chief civil rights prosecutor for the United States, as the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Justice Department.
In June 2017, she joined the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, as its President and CEO.
Deputy Director of the National Economic Council
Bharat Ramamurti was nominated as the Deputy Director of the National Economic Council (NEC) by President-elect Joe Biden on December 21, 2020.
He is currently the Managing Director (MD) of the Corporate Power program at the Roosevelt Institute. Ramamurti previously worked as the top economic advisor to Senator Elizabeth Warren during her 2020 presidential campaign.
“I’m honored to be joining the Biden-Harris administration as Deputy Director of the National Economic Council. We have much to do to get through this crisis and create a stronger and fairer economy — and I’m excited to get to work alongside this great team,” he tweeted.
He will also be working with Biden-picks Joelle Gamble and David Kamin on the National Economic Council.
After earning his bachelor’s from Harvard College, Ramamurti received his JD from Yale Law School. He then worked as an intern for the Boston Red Sox’s legal department.
Ramamurti currently lives in Boston with his wife and child.
Director of the National Economic Council
This is the second stint at the White House for Sameera Fazili, who was born in Williamsville, in suburban buffalo.
Previously, she served in the Obama administration as a senior policy advisor on the White House’s National Economic Council and as a senior advisor at the U.S. Treasury Department in both Domestic Finance and International Affairs.
Prior to joining the government, she worked as a clinical lecturer at Yale Law School, her alma mater, where she taught in the community and economic development program.
Most recently, Fazili worked as the Director of Engagement for Community and Economic Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. She also worked at ShoreBank, a CDFI bank.
Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, Department of State
Uzra Zeya was named by President-elect Joe Biden to be his Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights on January 16.
The veteran diplomat has nearly decades of experience with the Department of State and has expertise in Near East, South Asian, Europe, human rights and multilateral affairs.
Until recently, she served as CEO and President of the Alliance for Peacebuilding, a nonprofit that works to end violent conflict and promotes peace globally.
Zeya, who joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1990, left the State Department in 2018, alleging that the administration was bent on reversing decades of gains made by minorities and women under secretaries like Colin Powell and Hillary Clinton.
During his nearly three-decade-long stint at the State Department, Zeya served in a number of roles, including as Chargé d’Affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy in Paris from 2014 to 2017 and as Acting Assistant Secretary and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, from 2012 to 2014.
Zeya joined the Department of State in 1990, a year after she graduated from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Zeya received the Légion d’honneur, France’s highest civilian honor, a Presidential Rank Award, and 15 Superior Honor and Senior Performance Awards.
Assistant Press Secretary
Before being named as Assistant Press Secretary, Vedant Patel served as a senior spokesperson of the Biden Presidential Inaugural Committee. During the 2020 general election campaign, he was the Regional Communications Director for the Democratic nominee. During primary campaign, he served as the Nevada and Western Primary-States Communications Director for Biden.
Patel has also worked as Communications Director to Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Western Regional Press Secretary at the Democratic National Committee, and Communications Director to former Rep. Mike Honda.
Born in Gujarat, India and raised in California, Patel is a graduate of the University of California-Riverside and the University of Florida.
Deputy Press Secretary
Sabrina Singh, a veteran communication professional, worked for three presidential campaigns in the 2020 presidential cycle. She served as a press secretary for Kamala Harris, after she was selected by Joe Biden as his running mate, as well as the presidential campaigns of billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.
Previously, Singh served as Deputy Communications Director for the Democratic National Committee. In 2016, she was a regional communications director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
She is married to Mike Smith, a Democratic operative.
Director of speechwriting
Before being named as director of Speechwriting, Vinay Reddy served as a Senior Advisor and Speechwriter for the Biden-Harris campaign. During President Obama’s second term, Reddy served as chief speechwriter to Vice President Biden.
Reddy played several roles during the Obama administration, having served as both senior speechwriter at the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services, and as deputy speechwriter for the Obama reelection campaign.
Reddy, who grew up in Dayton, Ohio, also worked as a speechwriter for the Buckeye State Sen. Sherrod Brown.
After leaving the White House, he worked as Vice President of Strategic Communications for the NBA.
Reddy, second of three sons of Indian American parents, studied in Ohio’s public schools from kindergarten through law school. He is an alumnus of Miami University and the Ohio State University College of Law. He currently lives in New York with his wife and their two daughters.
Deputy Director of the Office of Presidential Personnel
Gautam Raghavan is a trailblazing Indian American who has served in multiple positions at the White House and on Capitol Hill in the past decade.
Prior to being named as the Deputy Director of the Office of Presidential Personnel, he worked as the Deputy Head of Presidential Appointments on the Biden’s transition team. Raghavan is one of a number of Obama officials tapped by Biden who has worked with the president-elect. Before joining the Biden transition last year, Raghavan served as Chief of Staff to Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-WA, for roughly two years.
Before that, he was the founding executive director of Indian American Impact Fund, a political advocacy group that encourages and support members of the community that run for elected offices across the country.
Like many Biden officials, Raghavan also has experience working with the president-elect, having served as an Advisor to the Biden Foundation.
Raghavan also worked as the Policy Director of the Gill Foundation, based in Denver, Colorado, one of the oldest and largest private foundations dedicated to the cause of LGBTQ equality.
From 2011 to 2014, Raghavan served in the Obama White House as the president’s liaison to the LGBTQ and the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. He was the first openly gay Indian American official in the Obama administration.
He also served in the White House Liaison Office for the US Department of Defense and as Outreach Lead for the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Working Group.
Policy director Jill Biden
Mala Adiga has been named the policy director to the would-be First Lady Jill Biden in November 2020. Previously, she served as a senior advisor to Dr. Jill Biden, and as one on the Biden-Harris Campaign. Adiga has also served as the Director for Higher Education and Military Families at the Biden Foundation.
During the Obama administration, Adiga served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Academic Programs at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. She also served as both Senior Advisor to the Ambassador-at-Large and as Director for Human Rights on the National Security Staff.
Prior to that, she was Counsel to the Associate Attorney General in the Department of Justice. Before entering government service, Adiga worked on the 2008 Obama presidential campaign.
Adiga was a litigation associate at Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Chicago and clerked for US District Court Judge Philip Simon in the Northern District of Indiana before joining the campaign.
Adiga, whose parents are from Udupi in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, grew up in Illinois. She is a graduate of Grinnell College, the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, and the University of Chicago Law School.
Adiga’s father Dr. Ramesh Adiga, who is the second among three siblings, came to the United States at the age of 25 to hone his skills as a vascular surgeon. Mala’s mother Jaya Adiga had studied medicine in Vellore.
Partnerships Manager, White House Office of Digital Strategy
Aisha Shah, who was born in Kashmir and raised in Louisiana, has been named as a Partnerships Manager in the 12-member White House Office of Digital Strategy.
Shah, an Advancement Specialist for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, previously served as a Digital Partnerships Manager for the Biden campaign.
Her previous stints include working as an Assistant Manager on the Corporate Fund of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and serving as a Strategic Communications Specialist at Buoy, an integrated marketing firm that specializes in social impact communications.
She is a graduate of Davidson College.
Senior Director for Technology and National Security
Tarun Chhabra was nominated by President-elect Joe Biden as senior director for Technology and National Security. Chhabra has experience working for the president-elect, having served on the National Security Council staff as director for Strategic Planning and director for Human Rights and National Security Issues during the Obama administration. He also worked at the Pentagon as a speechwriter for the Secretary of Defense.
Born in Tennessee and raised in Louisiana, Chhabra earned his bachelors from Stanford University, law degree from Harvard University and a Master of Philosophy in international relations from Oxford University, where he was a Marshall Scholar.
He is a Senior Fellow at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) and fellow at the Brookings Institution, heading an initiative on China.
Chhabra also worked in the Executive Office of the United Nations Secretary General.
Senior Director for South Asia
President-elect Joe Biden nominated Indian American Sumona Guha to be the next Senior Director for South Asia at the National Security Council. If confirmed by the Senate she will succeed acting Senior Director Lisa Curtis. The transition should feel seamless for Guha, having previously served as co-chair of the South Asia foreign policy working group on the Biden-Harris campaign.
Currently serving as the senior vice president at Albright Stonebridge Group, Guha also served as special advisor for national security affairs to then Vice President Biden during the Obama administration.
Guha is a graduate of Johns Hopkins and Georgetown University. She lives in Bethesda, Maryland with her husband and three children.
Coordinator for Democracy and Human Rights, NSC
Shanthi Kalathil, nominated as the Coordinator for Democracy and Human Rights at the National Security Council, is currently senior director of the International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy. In the past, she worked for the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University, the World Bank, and the Aspen Institute.
She once worked as a reporter for the Asian Wall Street Journal based in Hong Kong.
Kalathil is the co-author of Open Networks, Closed Regimes: The Impact of the Internet on Authoritarian Rule (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2003).
Originally from California, Kalathil is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Senior Advisor for Climate Policy and Innovation,
Office of Domestic Climate Policy
Before being tapped by the Biden administration, Sonia Aggarwal served as the Vice President of Energy Innovation, a San Francisco-based energy policy firm that provides research and analysis to help put in place policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, for nine years.
Before joining Energy Innovation, Aggarwal headed the global research at ClimateWorks Foundation for three years.
She was the 2019 recipient of a national award from the U.S. Department of Energy for her leadership in clean energy advocacy, and was named to Energy News Networks top 40 under 40 list. She holds a B.S. in astronomy and physics from Haverford, and an M.S. from Stanford University in engineering, focused on energy.
Policy Advisor for Testing (Covid)
This is the second White House stint for Vidur Sharma, a graduate of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
During the Obama administration, he served as a health policy advisor on the White House Domestic Policy Council. In that position, he supported the implementation of the Obamacare.
From 2018 to 2020, he served as a Senior Advisor at Strategy&, a global strategy consulting business part of the PwC network. In 2017, he worked as Deputy Research Director with Protect Our Care, a coalition of advocacy organizations that worked to prevent the repeal of Obamacare.
Sharma first joined the White House as intern for Health Policy and Reform in 2014 earning his bachelor’s degree in Health/Healthcare Administration from Saint Louis University.
Digital Director, First Lady Jill Biden’s Office
India-born Garima Verma, who served as an audience development and content strategist on the Biden-Harris Campaign, is the Digital Director at the office of First Lady Jill Biden. Before joining the campaign, Verma was a volunteer with the content team, designing graphics for distribution to Biden-Harris volunteers across the country.
Verma previously worked in the entertainment space marketing films at Paramount Pictures and television shows at The Walt Disney Company’s ABC Network and media agency Horizon Media. She has also served as an independent consultant in marketing, design and digital for a number of small business and non-profit clients.
Verma grew up in Ohio and the Central Valley of California. She is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles.
(This post was updated on January 25, 2021)