Daughter of immigrants from India joins over 30 Indian Americans named to key posts.
Kiran Ahuja, an Indian American civil rights lawyer and an advocate for Asians, has been nominated by President Joe Biden to head the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
As a member of Biden’s transition team, Ahuja was in charge of ensuring a smooth move by the agency overseeing the federal government’s civil service to the new administration.
Ahuja, who was born to immigrants from India and grew up in Georgia, would join at leas 30 other Indian Americans nominated by Biden to senior positions in his administration.
She had served in former President Barack Obama’s administration as OPM chief of staff.
OPM also coordinates the recruitment of government employees, and manages their health insurance and retirement benefits programs.
Now the CEO of Philanthropy Northwest, a network of charitable organizations across six states, Ahuja will have to be confirmed by the Senate in her new position.
RELATED: List of Indian Americans in the Biden administration (January 2, 2021)
Announcing her nomination Tuesday, the White House said Ahuja grew up in Savannah, Georgia, “as a young Indian immigrant in the wake of the civil rights era.”
She shares an educational background with Indian American Vice President Kamala Harris having attended a historically Black institution like her. Harris went to Howard University for her bachelor’s degree and Ahuja to Spelman College in Atlanta.
With a law degree from the University of Georgia, Ahuja “began her career as a civil rights lawyer at the US Department of Justice, litigating school desegregation cases, and filing the department’s first student racial harassment case,” according to the White House.
Initially in the Obama administration she had been the executive director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, “leading efforts to increase access to federal services, resources and programs for underserved Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.”
She also served as the founding executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, an advocacy organization spearheading policy and education initiatives.
As yet none of the Indian American nominees requiring Senate confirmation have come up for a vote before it.
Neera Tanden, the nominee for the cabinet position of the director of the Office of Management and Budget, is the only Indian American to have appeared for confirmation hearings before Senate committees.
But her nomination ran into trouble after a key Democratic Party senator, Joe Manchin, declared he will not vote for her. Three moderate Republicans have also declined to back her in the 50-50 state.
A Senate committee is set to vote on her nomination Wednesday.