Sonia Aggarwal to advise on climate policy; Vidur Sharma joins Covid-19 response team.
President-elect Joe-Biden and his deputy Kamala Harris are inducting three more Indian Americans for key jobs in the White House and in the office of would be First Lady, Jill Biden.
Sonia Aggarwal was named Senior Advisor for Climate Policy and Innovation, Vidur Sharma was added as Policy Advisor for Testing on the Covid 19 response, and Garima Verma named as Digital Director in Jill Biden’s office.
Announcing the new appointees Friday, Biden said, “They will be critical to ensuring that our policy agenda is effective in bringing change for the American people.”
Harris described them as “innovative thinkers and principled leaders” who “share a fundamental commitment to containing this pandemic, creating an economy that works for working people, and rebuilding our nation in a way that lifts up all Americans.”
Aggarwal, who would work in the Office of Domestic Climate Policy was a co-founder and the vice president of Energy Innovation where she acted as founding executive director of the Climate Imperative project, according to the transition announcement.
She also led America’s Power Plan, bringing together 200 electricity policy experts and directed the team that developed the Energy Policy Simulator to analyze the environmental, economic, and public health impacts of climate and energy policies.
Earlier, Aggarwal managed global research at ClimateWorks Foundation, where she worked on the McKinsey carbon abatement cost curves and led research for the American Energy Innovation Council.
Born and raised in Ohio, Aggarwal graduated from Haverford College in astronomy and physics, and earned a masters at Stanford University in civil engineering
Vidur Sharma, who is joining the Covid-19 response team has served in the Obama-Biden White House as a health policy advisor on the Domestic Policy Council.
In this role, Sharma supported the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, aligned Federal Department and Agencies, and collaborated with community stakeholders to further the administration’s health policy agenda.
The son of Indian immigrants, Sharma also served as Deputy Research Director with Protect Our Care, a coalition of advocacy organizations dedicated to preventing the repeal of the ACA.
Since then, Sharma has advised health sector organizations on value-based care arrangements at PwC Strategy.
Born in Wisconsin and raised in Minnesota, Sharma is a graduate of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Saint Louis University. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife.
These qualified, tested, and skilled individuals will “bolster the White House’s Covid-19 Response team and play important roles in carrying out our rescue plan and vaccination program,” said Biden.
Harris said she looked “forward to working closely with these dedicated public servants not only to address this urgent crisis, but also to build better preparedness for future pandemics and other public health threats.”
Meanwhile, Jill Biden named India-born Garima Verma, who served as an audience development and content strategist on the Biden-Harris Campaign, as Digital Director in her office.
Before joining the campaign, she 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. Verma is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles.
She will be joining another Indian American, Mala Adiga who has been appointed policy director in the First Lady’s office.
“Together, we will work to open the White House in new, inclusive and innovative ways, reflecting more fully the distinct beauty of all our communities, cultures and traditions,” said Jill Biden announcing the new additions to her office.
The new appointees would be joining more than a dozen other Indian Americans in the new Biden-Harris administration set to take office on January 20.
They include Neera Tanden, who has been named director of the Office of Management and Budget with cabinet rank and Vivek Murthy as Surgeon General. Both positions require Senate confirmation.
Others on the new White House team are Vinay Reddy as director of speechwriting, Gautam Raghavan as deputy director of the Office of Presidential Personnel, Bharat Ramamurti as deputy director of the National Economic Council and Vedant Patel as assistant press secretary,
Atul Gawande and Celine Gounder are members of the Covid-19 task force while Sabrina Singh has been named as deputy press secretary to Harris.
Three Indian Americans have been named to the powerful National Security Council, Tarun Chhabra as senior director for technology and national security and Sumona Guha as senior director for South Asia, and Shanthi Kalathil, coordinator for Democracy and Human Rights.