Gautam Raghavan is now top White House official
In an announcement made by the White House on Friday, Indian-American Gautam Raghavan will be the highest-ranking out member of the White House staff when he advances to the director of the Office of Presidential Personnel. Raghavan has replaced Catherine Russell, who has been appointed as executive director of the UNICEF.
Raghavan has been deputy director since President Joe Biden took office but he will move up now that Catherine Russel, head of the White House personnel office, has been appointed Executive Director of UNICEF and Indian-origin Gautam Raghavan will be her replacement.
As Russell’s Deputy at the White House Office of Presidential Personnel, Raghavan took charge of vetting and recruiting political appointees to about 4,000 jobs that are not career civil service positions.
Raghavan was the first employee hired by Biden’s Transition Team and served as the deputy head of presidential appointments, according to the White House.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced on Thursday that he was appointing Russel to head the UN arm devoted to the welfare of children, and almost simultaneously US President Joe Biden appointed Raghavan to succeed her at the White House.
Russel follows another American, Henrietta Fore, who became the head of UNICEF in 2018 and quit this year.
The American government is the largest contributor to the UNICEF organization. In 2020, Washington had provided $801 million of the $7 billion contributions it received.
Biden said that his appointment will ensure a “seamless transition that will enable us to continue building a federal workforce that is efficient, effective, dependable, and diverse.”
Raghavan is a Stanford University graduate. He was born in India and grew up in Seattle. He has also served as an adviser to the Biden Foundation.
He is openly gay, and according to the White House “he lives with his husband and their daughter in Washington.”
He worked in the White House Office of Public Engagement as liaison to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community as well as the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in the administration of former President Barack Obama.
His resume includes a stint as the chief of staff for Pramila Jayapal, the Indian-origin Democratic member of the House of Representatives who is the chair of the leftist group of lawmakers known as the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
In her long political and administrative career, Russell has been the US Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues, associate deputy attorney general, and an adviser on women’s issues to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
[With Inputs from IANS]
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