Political Appointees in the Biden-Harris Administration
U.S. Department of Education Appointments Since January 2021

A-F | G-L | M-O | P-S | T-Z


Alice Abrokwa

Senior Counsel, Office for Civil Rights

Alice Abrokwa most recently served as a senior attorney at the National Center for Youth Law, where she engaged in impact litigation on behalf of children and youth across the country. Prior to that position, Abrokwa was a Trial Attorney with the Disability Rights Section of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and a Skadden Fellow at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, where she represented D.C. students with mental health disabilities in special education matters. She began her career as a judicial law clerk and is a graduate of Princeton University, Harvard Law School, and Harvard Kennedy School.


Swati Adarkar

Deputy Assistant Secretary, Early Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

Swati Adarkar most recently served as the National Policy Director for Start Early. Prior to this, Swati was the Co-Founder and President & CEO of the Children's Institute in Oregon for 15 years, an early childhood policy and advocacy organization. Swati served on statewide advisory committees on early childhood for three Oregon governors. She provided the vision and leadership to launch and sustain the Early Works initiative which aligns birth to five services and supports with elementary school. For more than thirty years she has been a strong advocate for meeting the comprehensive needs of low-income children and families in Oregon and California and has a passion for ensuring the health and early school success of young children. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from UCLA and a Master's in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School.


Doralicia "Allie" Aguilera

Deputy Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary

For over a decade Allie has been in operations, management, policy, and communications within government and nonprofits. Most recently, Allie supported Domestic appointments during the Biden-Harris transition. During the 2020 election cycle Allie served as deputy chief operating officer of Kamala Harris for the People and as a youth vote expert for various national voting organizations. She was previously a higher education and health care advocate at young adult non-profit Young Invincibles. Allie served at the U.S. Department of Transportation during President Barack Obama's second term and prior to that worked on racial and gender equity issues in the office of the Mayor of New York City. Allie has extensive experience in campaigns and elections at the federal, state, and local levels and began her career at the Democratic National Committee. She is a proud immigrant and Virginian and a graduate of the University of Virginia.


Chauncey Alexander

Special Assistant, Office of Communications and Outreach

Chauncey T. Alexander holds a PhD in Instructional Management and Leadership from Robert Morris University as well as a Master's degree in Organizational Leadership, and a Bachelor's degree in Communication. Chauncey has served in many roles including: Digital Engagement Manager for President Biden's inauguration, an Editorial Writer on the Biden-Harris campaign, and the Digital Engagement Coordinator for the Democratic National Convention. Chauncey's professional background also includes experience in social justice/political organizing, higher education, performing arts, and urban education.


John Bailey

Senior Counsel, Office of the General Counsel

John Bailey joins the Biden Harris Administration after most recently serving as an Associate with the Washington D.C based law firm, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, where he practice focused on litigation. Previously, John served as a Law Clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington State. Prior to attending law school, John gained valuable experience as producer with NBC News, where he covered U.S politics, the U.S Supreme Court, and other important national news stories. John is a graduate of Duke University School of Law and Duke University.


Lexi Barrett

Senior Advisor, Office of the Secretary

Lexi Barrett was most recently an associate vice president at Jobs for the Future. At JFF, Lexi's work focused on advancing nonpartisan, practice-informed public policy that supports economic advancement. Before joining JFF, Lexi spent nearly a decade in public service at the federal level. She worked on Capitol Hill for six years as a legislative assistant to Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois. She also served in the Obama-Biden Administration as a policy advisor in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education and as a senior policy advisor on the Domestic Policy Council at the White House, helping to shape and advance President Obama's early education and K-12 education agenda. Lexi served on the Biden-Harris Transition Team as navigator to Secretary-Designate Cardona during his confirmation process.


Allison Barry

Confidential Assistant, Office of the Secretary

Allison Barry joins the Biden-Harris Administration after working on the Finance and Trips teams with the Terry McAuliffe for Governor campaign in Virginia. Previously, she worked as a Field Organizer with the 2020 Pennsylvania Democratic Coordinated Campaign in Erie, Pennsylvania. She also taught high school English in Milan, Italy during the 2019-2020 academic year. Allison is a California native and a 2019 graduate of College of the Holy Cross where she was a Division 1 student-athlete and majored in Political Science & Italian.


Jacob Blaut

Confidential Assistant, Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs

Jake Blaut, a Cincinnati, Ohio native, recently finished working for the Biden-Harris campaign as an organizer in New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, Wisconsin, and Ohio since July 2019. His previous experiences are in local government budgeting, non-profit development, and campaign organizing in Ohio and Florida. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Florida State University in Economics and Political Science.


Jasmine Bolton

Senior Counsel, Office for Civil Rights

Prior to joining the Biden-Harris administration, Jasmine Bolton was a senior staff attorney at the Bail Project, where she helped coordinate the expansion into new jurisdictions in the South. Before that, Bolton was a policy analyst for the Warren for President campaign, where she focused on a broad range of interrelated topics such as criminal justice reform, K-12 education, and rural communities. Prior to that, she worked as a Legal Fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, where she focused on educational equity, combating the school-to-prison pipeline, and improving youth access to mental health services.


Larry Bowden

Special Assistant, Office of the Secretary

Larry Bowden Jr. recently served in various roles on the Biden-Harris Presidential Campaign with the most recent being the Deputy Organizing Director of North Florida. Prior to joining the Biden campaign in Iowa, he worked on many campaigns across the country, including Governor J.B. Pritzker of Illinois gubernatorial campaign as a Regional Director. Larry earned his Bachelor of Science in political science from Florida A&M University.


Bryan Bowlsbey

Advisor for Data Management, Office of the Under Secretary

Bryan brings 23 years of Governance, Policy and Information Technology experience on commercial, civilian government and military networks to include large ISPs and very small businesses, to his role at the Department of Education.  In previous governmental roles, he led the Enterprise Change Board, supported Enterprise Architecture, managed the system administration of high-profile applications, and supported governance and policy efforts for a vast joint military network.  Bryan has also spent 6 years as a government contractor performing technical duties for civilian agencies and the Department of Defense.  He has a Master's degree in IT Management, multiple IT industry certifications, and two and a half years of institutional knowledge gained from previously supporting the Department of Education.  Bryan is a retired Soldier, having served 30 years in uniform and deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He is also an avid glider pilot and father of two young girls.


Jacob Brett-Turner

Deputy White House Liaison, Office of the Secretary

Jacob Brett-Turner comes to the Department of Education from the Department of Health and Human Services, where he served in the role of Special Assistant in the Office for Civil Rights. Prior to federal service, Jacob worked as a Federal & Initiatives Associate at ActBlue, managing all accounts for federal campaigns in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Previously, Jacob served as Regional Get-Out-The-Vote Director for the Democratic Party of Georgia during the 2021 US Senate Runoff. From 2019-2020, he served in several roles on the Biden for President Campaign, most recently Regional Organizing Director, overseeing volunteer recruitment and voter contact efforts in central Philadelphia. Jacob holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science from Skidmore College where he graduated in 2019.


Maia Brockbank

Confidential Assistant, Office for Civil Rights

Maia Brockbank joins the U.S Department of Education as Confidential Assistant in the Office for Civil Rights. Previously, Maia served in a variety of nonprofit organizations and public sector roles. She has also spent over a decade working in various roles centered on advocacy for survivors of sexual violence. Maia graduated from Stanford University in 2021 with a BA in Political Science. Maia was born and raised in Denver, Colorado.


J. Noah Brown

Senior Advisor, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education

A widely recognized and award-winning higher education policy and governance expert, author, and educator whose experience spans four decades in the nation's capital. Brown previously served 16 years as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT). His inaugural book, First in the World: Community Colleges and America's Future, won the 2013 Bellwether Book Award. Noah is a former faculty member for Doctorate in Community College Leadership Program at Ferris State University. In addition to leading ACCT, Noah has served in many affiliated leadership capacities. He served as a Founding Member of the College Promise Advisory Board and Chair of the Executive Committee. Brown is a past member of the Level Up Advisory Board, Seal of Excelencia Advisory Board, Single Stop USA Advisory Board, and National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship Board of Directors. In addition, Noah has held a number of other appointed positions in and out of government. Noah holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, and an Honorary Associate of Arts from Atlantic Cape Community College in New Jersey.


Lisa Brown

General Counsel, Office of the General Counsel 

Lisa Brown is currently Vice President & General Counsel of Georgetown University. Brown also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Center for Law and Social Policy, DC Theatre Lab and SMYAL (Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders). Brown has spent extensive time in public service. She served in the Administration of President Obama, first as Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary in the White House, and then as Acting Chief Performance Officer at the Office of Management and Budget. She previously had served as Co-Director of Agency Review for the Obama-Biden Transition Project. During the Administration of President Clinton, Brown began as a career lawyer in the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice and then became Counsel to Vice President Gore, where she also served as a member of the Executive Board of the President's Committee for Employment of People with Disabilities. Between the two administrations, Brown was Executive Director of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy.


Jessica Cardichon

Deputy Assistant Secretary, P-12 Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development

Jessica's most recent position is serving as the Director of the Washington DC Office and Director of Federal Policy at the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) where she plays a leadership role in the organization, including developing and advancing LPI's federal policy agenda. She is also the lead author of Advancing Educational Equity for Underserved Youth among numerous other LPI publications. Jessica began her career teaching in New York City for seven years and then working for Teachers College, Columbia University, as a program manager for implementation of early career educator induction programs. Upon moving to Washington, DC, she served as Education Counsel to Senator Bernie Sanders, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. She then served as Senior Director for Federal Policy and Advocacy at the Alliance for Excellent Education. Jessica received an Ed.D. and M.A. in Politics and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and a J.D. from Pace University School of Law.


Miguel Cardona

Secretary of Education

Dr. Miguel A. Cardona was sworn in as the 12th Secretary of Education on March 2nd, 2021. Secretary Cardona previously served as the Commissioner of Education in Connecticut, a position he held after being appointed by Governor Ned Lamont in August 2019. In this position, Secretary Cardona and his Department provided school districts with the balance of guidance, local autonomy, and oversight needed to ensure equitable and meaningful educational opportunities for students while also prioritizing public health mitigation measures. Secretary Cardona and the State of Connecticut focused on equity by arranging for student access to technology to support remote learning, helping the state become the first in the nation to provide learning devices to fulfill the identified need for all students. Additionally, Secretary Cardona and his team collaborated with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and other stakeholders to provide free social and emotional learning courses. Secretary Cardona's approach to leadership in Connecticut focused on partnerships: within his Education Department; between State agencies; and with local boards, educator unions, school administrator associations, child advocates, and most importantly, students and families.


Danny Carlson

Chief of Staff, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

Danny Carlson most recently served as Associate Executive Director, Policy & Advocacy at the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). Prior to joining NAESP, Danny worked in the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices–Education Division, helping guide governors' offices on policies to address educator recruitment, preparation, working conditions, shortages, and diversifying the profession. Danny previously served as an education advisor to Senator Amy Klobuchar and was responsible for advancing her K–12 education agenda.


Stephen Cekuta

Special Assistant, Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs

Stephen is a Special Assistant in the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs.  A native of Washington, D.C., Stephen is a graduate of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where he wrote his dissertation on Franklin Roosevelt and the core responsibility of the Federal Government to help the American people.  Prior to joining Ed., Stephen worked for the Biden campaign in the early states and Maine, and for a brief period, was a political consultant.


Vikram Chaudhuri

Confidential Assistant, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education

Vikram works as a Confidential Assistant at the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education. He graduated from Vanderbilt University with a BA in History in 2019. He started working as an organizer in 2019 on President Biden's campaign and continued in that role with the Florida Democratic Party.


Rafael Cestero

Confidential Assistant, Office of the Deputy Secretary

Rafael Cestero most recently served as Scheduler to the CEO at Laurel Strategies. Before joining Laurel, he worked at the Personal Office of Barack & Michelle Obama, Voice of America, various political campaigns and the American University Sine Institute. Additionally, Rafael was very engaged on campus, while a student at American University, working on issues of diversity and inclusion, as well as running the School of International Service’s Model G20 Program. Rafael graduated from American University with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and a minor in music. In his spare time, Rafael loves to travel, sing, and explore the DMV with friends.


Jasmin Chavez

Confidential Assistant, White House Initiatives, Office of the Secretary

Jasmin Chavez is joining the Biden- Harris Administration as a Confidential Assistant to the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics. Prior to this role, Jasmin was a Policy & Communications Associate at Dewey Square Group, specializing in technology and telecommunications policy. Jasmin is a dynamic leader with a track record in civic engagement, legislative advocacy, and organizing. She currently serves in a volunteer capacity as the State Director for the Virginia League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). She has also served as the Latino Political & Outreach Director for Victoria Virasingh for Congress and as the Chair of the Virginia Todos Con Biden Youth Committee. Jasmin serves her alma mater as the youngest member of McDaniel College Alumni Council’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. Jasmin is an alumna of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, The National Museum of the American Latino Young Ambassadors Program, and the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics Internship Program. In 2018, she was awarded Woman of the Year by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and in 2022, was awarded the Emerging Leadership Award by the same organization.


Branden Cobb

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Content Creation, Office of Communications and Outreach

Branden Cobb has spent his career developing and leading content strategy for some of the most prolific names in the media industry - including ESPN, ABC News, CBS News and AOL. Most recently, Cobb was a Digital Director at BAE Systems, Inc. headquarters where he played a critical role in executing the aerospace company's strategic digital strategy and plans to reach a variety of stakeholders. Prior to this, Cobb was a content director for the XFL's New York Guardians, where he led editorial content for the startup XFL professional football franchise. With a focus on team coverage, he drove audience and traffic growth across multiple platforms such as live events, digital media, and social media. Cobb's career began in digital media at ESPN. He then moved on to work at other top New York City outlets, including ABC7 Eyewitness News, where he won a Peabody Award for his team's coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Cobb also spearheaded digital coverage of some of the most compelling stories of the last decade - the Boston Marathon bombing, Trayvon Martin murder trial, and Newtown School shooting - while serving as a managing editor at CBSNEWS.com. Branden graduated from Penn State University with a Bachelor's degree in Telecommunications, where he also was a member of the Citrus Bowl champion Nittany Lion football team. He recently received his social media management certificate from Georgetown University.


Michelle Asha Cooper, Ph.D.

Deputy Under Secretary, Office of the Under Secretary

Michelle Asha Cooper, Ph.D., is a strategic and collaborative leader, with more than 20 years of experience in postsecondary education. Through her work and lived experience, Michelle has witnessed first-hand the transformative power of education. She sees education as a core tenet of a civil society and vehicle for advancing racial and socio-economic equity. These beliefs fuel Michelle's passions and have enabled her to advance major student success reforms, while also cultivating strong partnerships with national and international leaders from the postsecondary, policy, philanthropic, business, and civic communities. Michelle has held key roles and leadership positions at the Institute for Higher Education Policy, Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance (U.S. Department of Education), Council for Independent Colleges, Association of American Colleges & Universities, and King's College (Wilkes-Barre, PA).


Jason Cummins

Deputy Director, White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Native Americans and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities, Office of the Secretary

Awaachiáookaate' (Jason Cummins, Ed. D.), an enrolled member of the Apsaalooke Nation, is a Educational Leadership professor at Montana State University (MSU) and recently served as a principal at Crow Agency Public School. As an Indigenous scholar and school leader he has innovatively worked to lead schools towards authentically serving Native American students PreK-12 and their communities by implementing culturally sustaining, trauma-informed, and restorative approaches. Viewing education as a means of perpetuating the story, identity, and language of Indigenous communities and empowering them toward a better future, Jason is a recognized leader in shifting how schools think about Indigenous culture and language, he has served in numerous leadership capacities from board membership, consultancy and public speaking; all with the integrated purpose of advancing educational equity among Native Americans and supporting Native American communities. He is a Clark Scholar, Little Big Horn Tribal College alumni, and received his Master’s and Doctorate at MSU.


Joanna Darcus

Senior Counsel, Office of the General Counsel

Joanna K. Darcus is an attorney who focuses on litigation and student loan/higher education finance issues facing low-income people and communities of color, including private student loan debt collection defense, federal student aid policy, state regulation, and emerging financial products/services. Prior to her most recent role at the National Consumer Law Center, Joanna was a supervising attorney at Community Legal Services, Inc. of Philadelphia where she represented hundreds of low-income consumers sued by debt collectors or struggling with student loans. Before law school, she was a case manager/paralegal at Juvenile Law Center. Joanna graduated from Williams College and Duke University School of Law. She is originally from Charlottesville, Virginia, and currently resides in Arlington, Virginia.


Amanda DelGiudice

Director of Advance, Office of the Secretary

Amanda DelGiudice most recently served on the Surrogate Advance team for the Biden-Harris campaign. She has spent several years working in fundraising for organizations such as the World Food Program USA. Prior to this, she served as Deputy Campaign Manager and Finance Director for several campaigns across the country. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, DC and comes from Staten Island, New York.


William Desmond

Senior Counsel, Office of the General Counsel

William (Will) Desmond is an attorney in the Office of the General Counsel for the Biden-Harris Transition. Prior to that, he worked as a Senior Associate in the Washington, D.C. office of WilmerHale, an international law firm. While attending law school, he interned in the Economic Crimes Unit of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts and in the Educational Opportunities Section of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Will is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School. He lives in Silver Spring, MD with his wife and enjoys college football and mystery board games.


Monique Dixon

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Office for Civil Rights

Monique L. Dixon previously served as deputy director of policy and director of state advocacy at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), Inc. In these roles, she was responsible for assisting with the development, coordination, and implementation of LDF's overall federal policy and legislative reform priorities with a focus on criminal justice and education. She also serves as the lead architect of LDF's state and local legislative and policy activities, including LDF's Justice in Public Safety Project, which used policy and legislative advocacy, public education, community organizing, litigation, and communications strategies to advance laws, policies, and practices that would result in unbiased and accountable policing and community-based public safety systems. Dixon also served as co-chair of the Education Task Force of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and Hunter College of the City University of New York.


Kortne Edogun-Ticey

Senior Advisor, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

Dr. Kortne Edogun-Ticey most recently served as a Senior Director at Equal Opportunity Schools. In addition to experience in the national non-profit arena, she has supported every level of the governance structure, including serving as the K-12 policy director of a state education agency. She brings a specific and transferable positionality of lived experiences to her research and practice, and finds responsibility and moral obligation to be a resounding voice grounded in action. Notably, she authored reports that brought data transparency to disparate discipline practices which led to the DC Council’s bill to ban pre-k expulsions, created a strategy for free standardized testing in support of college readiness, and established state processes for supporting chronically truant students. Dr. Kortne is determined to bridge the gap between theory and practice with intentionality. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, a Bachelor of Arts in French, and a Master of Public Policy from Vanderbilt University, as well as a Doctorate in Education from Johns Hopkins University.


Lynn Eisenberg

Principal Deputy General Counsel Office of General Counsel

Lynn joins the Department of Education from the Office of Personnel Management, where she served as General Counsel. Immediately before joining the Biden-Harris Administration, Lynn served as Deputy General Counsel for the Biden-Harris campaign and as a Counsel on the Biden-Harris transition. She previously worked as Counsel in the Strategic Response group of the Washington, D.C. office of WilmerHale, focusing on crisis management, congressional investigations, litigation, and internal investigations. From 2014 to 2017 she served as Associate White House Counsel in the Obama-Biden Administration. Lynn earned her bachelor's degree from Washington University in St. Louis and her J.D. from NYU School of Law.


Taylor Emerson

Confidential Assistant, Office of the Secretary

Taylor Emerson is a 2020 honors graduate with a B.A. in Psychology at Washington University in St. Louis. She moved from Los Angeles to D.C. after serving as a field organizer in Arizona for the Biden-Harris Campaign, and then as a Biden Fellow in Talent on the Presidential Inaugural Committee. Her most recent position was a Comms-Digital Consultant under DC-based political startup Jump Cut, Inc. Initially pursuing entertainment, Taylor interned at Anonymous Content, Gotham Group, and Creative Artists Agency, and while living in Berlin, Germany with her family, Babelsberg Film Studios and Bild.de. At WashU, Taylor was a TA for the Olin Business School. She also co-wrote/co-directed/co-produced an original musical, TWINS, with her identical twin sister in college, and she has co-written/performed original songs for various non-profit, educational, and governmental organizations.


Antoinette Flores

Senior Advisor for ARP Implementation, Office of Postsecondary Education

Antoinette Flores most recently served as the managing director for Postsecondary Education at the Center for American Progress. While there, her work focused on improving higher education quality, accountability, equity, and data to ensure that all students could access, afford, and complete high-quality degrees. Antoinette is a first-generation college graduate, Pell recipient, and holds degrees from Amherst College and George Mason University. She lives in Virginia.


Cristina Flores

Director of Scheduling, Office of the Secretary

Cristina Flores returns to the federal government after having served for almost six years in various roles. She served as the Public Affairs Officer for the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service; as Associate Director of Hispanic Media under the Obama Administration; and as Associate Director of Public Affairs at the National Women's Business Council at the U.S. Small Business Administration. Most recently, she served as an Associate Manager on the U.S. Politics and Government Outreach team at Facebook. Since 2014, Cristina has served on President Biden's advance teams on domestic and international trips. Cristina graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor's degree in Sociology and a Bridging Disciplines Human Rights and Social Justice Certificate. Cristina lives in Washington, DC however, she will always call the Rio Grande Valley, Texas home.


Bernadine Futrell

Deputy Assistant Secretary, Equity and Discretionary Grants and Support Services, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

Bernadine Futrell, Ph.D., was most recently the director of the Office of Head Start (OHS) at HHS' Administration for Children and Families. Futrell, began her career as an assistant Head Start teacher in Virginia. She came to OHS in the Biden-Harris Administration from the National Head Start Association (NHSA), where she was most recently the senior director for effective practice. Prior to NHSA, Futrell led superintendent certification programs at the American Association of School Administrators. She is co-author of the book ConnectED Leaders: Network and Amplify your Superintendency and holds a bachelor's degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a M.Ed. and a Ph.D. in education policy from George Mason University. Futrell and her husband are the proud parents of two young children.


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Seth Galanter

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs, Office for Civil Rights

Seth Galanter returns to the Office for Civil Rights, where he served for more than five years during the Obama-Biden Administration. Since that time, he worked as a senior director at the National Center for Youth Law. At NCYL, he brought lawsuits against the federal government and state agencies to advocate on behalf of vulnerable children and youth. Seth started his legal career at the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and then was Of Counsel at a private law firm, where he was able to argue two cases in the U.S. Supreme Court. Seth is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Columbia College.


Meredith Galanti

Confidential Assistant, Office of the Secretary/Deputy Secretary

During the 2020 general election, Meredith served as the Wisconsin HR Operations Director and she concluded her work with the campaign on the Biden-Harris Transition operations team. Prior to joining President Biden's campaign, Meredith worked in operations for Organizing Corps 2020 and as an organizer with the Democratic Party of Georgia. Meredith earned her Bachelor of Arts in political science from Tulane University.


John Garcia III

Senior Advisor, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development

Dr. John Garcia III was formerly Deputy of Strategic Partnerships and Innovation for the Los Angeles County Office of Education and he also served as President of their philanthropic arm, the Greater LA Education Foundation. Previously, he was the Senior Program Officer for Education at the California Community Foundation. John has also served as a consultant for the National Governors Association, Jobs for the Future, and the Southern Regional Education Board. He was also a policy analyst for the White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for Hispanics and resident fellow at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. John began his career in education as a school counselor and later served as a director for the Arizona Commission for Post-secondary Education. John received his bachelor's and master's degree from Arizona State University. He received his doctorate in education leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. John has also served as a board member for Grantmakers for Education, the Leadership Academy and Social Justice Partners Los Angeles.


Montserrat Garibay

Acting Assistant Deputy Secretary and Director & Senior Advisor for Labor Relations, Office of Secretary

Montserrat Garibay was the secretary-treasurer of the Texas AFL-CIO. Previously, she served as vice president for Certified Employees with Education Austin, a merged union local with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, and the American Federation of Labor Congress of Industrial Organizations. An activist on education and immigration issues, Garibay came to the U.S. from Mexico City as an undocumented immigrant and became a citizen 20 years later. She has been instrumental in promoting opportunities for all students, including those from immigrant families. She promoted passage of the Texas version of the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform. A bilingual pre-kindergarten teacher for eight years and National Board-Certified Teacher, she is a graduate of the National Labor Leadership Initiative with the Worker Institute at Cornell University. Garibay is a University of Texas -Austin graduate with a master's degree in Education.


Adan Gonzalez

White House Fellow, Office of the Secretary

As the son of immigrants, Adan values the power of education. He graduated from Georgetown University, majoring in Government with a minor in Education, Inquiry and Justice. He earned a Masters in Education Leadership at Columbia University and a Masters in Education Policy and Management from Harvard University. Adan is the Founder of Puede Network, a family empowerment organization that provides underserved minority students – many from Dallas’ Oak Cliff neighborhood where Adan grew up and continues to live -- with transformative programming encompassing; academics, health and nutrition, community stewardship, recreational athletics, and socio-emotional support.


Melody Gonzales

Executive Director, White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics, Office of the Secretary

Melody Gonzales is a creative, impact-oriented, bilingual professional with nearly 20 years of experience rooted in the Federal, advocacy, union and nonprofit sectors. Having served two Presidents, one Governor, two Members of Congress and the Democratic Caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives, she is committed to advancing impactful initiatives and building the capacity of leaders shaping a brighter future for our nation. Melody joins the U.S. Department of Education from the National Education Association, the nation's largest union representing 3 million educators. As a senior advisor for Latino advocacy and partnership engagement in the NEA's Center for Racial and Social Justice, she managed policy, grants, partnerships and advocacy efforts centered on bridging the NEA with Latino, immigration and civil rights advocates to collectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, improve students' educational outcomes, advance racial and social justice in public schools and communities, and empower educators to excel in their profession. Her prior experience includes serving: on the Biden-Harris transition team's Office of Personnel Management Agency Review Team; as a Senior Executive Service-level appointee in the Obama-Biden Administration -- serving first as the U.S Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration Chief of Staff and then as Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; as a Legislative Assistant then Director of Member Outreach for former Congressman Xavier Becerra and the U.S. House of Representatives' Democratic Caucus; and as the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda's Founding Director of the Latino Appointments Program. She mobilized Latino voters as: Virginia State Latino Vote Director for the 2012 Obama-Biden re-election as well as Governor Ralph Northam's 2017 election; Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva's 2010 Get Out the Vote Director; and on the 2008 Obama-Biden campaign in Colorado.


Gwen Graham

Assistant Secretary, Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs

Gwen Graham previously served as the Congressional representative from Florida's 2nd District during the 114th Congress.  She is an attorney and prior to her service in Congress, focused her practice on public education as Chief of Labor and Employee Relations for the Leon County School District. She also served as a board member of the statewide Florida Educational Negotiators. Graham is a proud product of public K-12 education, as are her children, and she served as PTA President and School Advisory Council Chair. Graham has worked on a number of presidential campaigns, and in 2004 served as John Kerry's surrogate coordinator in Florida.


Tariq Habash

Special Assistant, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development

Tariq Habash joins the Biden-Harris Administration after years fighting on behalf of 45 million student loan borrowers. Most recently, Habash helped launch the Student Borrower Protection Center, a national research and advocacy nonprofit where he led the Investigations Project to protect student loan borrowers. Prior to this work, Habash was a Senior Policy Associate at The Century Foundation working on higher education affordability, accountability, and consumer protection issues. He holds degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the University of Miami.


Latricia Hardman

Confidential Assistant, Office of the Under Secretary

Latricia Hardman holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Alabama State University. She recently served as a deputy organizing director on the Georgia Senate Runoff and the Biden-Harris campaign in North Carolina. She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.


Vanessa Harmoush

Deputy Press Secretary, Office of Communications and Outreach

Vanessa Harmoush recently served as the Colorado communications director for the Biden for President campaign. Prior to that, Vanessa was communications director at Rocky Mountain Values, working on issues of health care and climate. She also worked at the Colorado State Legislature for the Speaker of the House and prior to that at the State Innovation Exchange. Vanessa holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Colorado – Boulder. Vanessa is born to Lebanese immigrants, and currently resides in Denver, Colorado.


Donna Harris-Aikens

Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Secretary

Donna Harris-Aikens served as a member of the Education Agency Review Team for the Biden-Harris Transition and was a member of the Democratic National Convention Committee Platform Committee. She served as Senior Director for Education Policy and Practice at the National Education Association (NEA), where she advocated for students, educators, and working families to support equity and excellence in education, and to ensure working families had the right to organize and the opportunity to thrive in our global economy. Prior to joining NEA, Harris-Aikens served in leadership roles for the Service Employees International Union and Advance CTE and was an attorney in an education boutique law firm.


Anna Hartge

Chief of Staff, Office of Communication and Outreach

Anna Hartge most recently served as the Industry Coach for U.S. Politics, Education, Social Impact, Arts & Communications at The George Washington University (GW) Center for Career Services. Prior to this, Anna worked as the Career Counselor in Disability Support Services at GW and firmly believes in empowering individuals with disabilities. Anna started her career in the Obama-Biden U.S. Department of Education in the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnership where she connected community groups, both faith-based and secular, to schools to promote student achievement. Anna holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Studies for Secondary Education from Hope College and Masters in Higher Education Administration from The George Washington University. Anna enjoys giving back to her community through three board appointments: Grace and Race Ministries, Inc, The American Board of Audiology, and the Hope College Alumni Board.


Rachel Hegarty

Deputy Director of Scheduling, Office of the Secretary

Rachel Hegarty most recently served as a Regional Get Out The Vote Director for the Democratic Party of Georgia. Prior to that she served as a Regional Organizing Director for the Biden-Harris Campaign in Florida and as a Field Organizer for the Biden for President Campaign in Iowa. Prior to her campaign experience Rachel held internships at the Environment Protection Agency, the Morris Museum, and the Guggenheim Museum. Rachel holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Colgate University.


Alexis Holmes

Executive Director, White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans, Office of the Secretary

Alexis Holmes joins the Biden-Harris Administration as Executive Director, White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans in the Office of the Secretary after most recently serving Policy Manager and Senior Policy Analyst in the Office of Education Policy & Practice as well as Senior Liaison in the Office of Minority Community Outreach with the National Education Association. She earned a Bachelor's in Science with a focus on Public Relations and Political Science from West Virginia University.


Riter Hoopes

Confidential Assistant, Office of Postsecondary Education

Riter Hoopes joins the Department after serving as a data associate with the states team on the Biden-Harris campaign. Riter joined the campaign in the primaries, working out of the Philadelphia headquarters as a data analytics intern and providing data and organizing assistance in Iowa leading up to the caucus. Riter graduated from Colby College in 2020, studying economics and education.


Jack Hurley

Confidential Assistant, Office of the Undersecretary

Jack Hurley recently served as an Advance Associate to the Office of the First Lady where he traveled across the country to prepare for Dr. Biden's events including child vaccination clinics and community outreach visits. He previously worked on the Biden campaign in several states as a field organizer and has also been a part of research and finance teams for Senate and Congressional races. A graduate of Gonzaga University, Jack earned a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science where he focused on the socioeconomic impacts on voter rights and education.


Kristina Ishmael

Education Technology Deputy Director, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development

Kristina Ishmael is an educator, learner, advocate, and agent of change. She is the Deputy Director of the Office of Ed Tech and brings a wide variety of experience to actively change teaching and learning to provide more equitable access and opportunities for every learner.

Ishmael most recently worked as an educational consultant where she supported educators, schools, and nonprofits as they navigated new learning environments. Additionally, she was the Sr. Research Fellow on New America's Teaching, Learning, & Tech team where she advised on the inclusive technology portfolio that picked up her prior OER work, and incorporated digital equity and culturally responsive and sustaining education.

Prior to leading the #GoOpen project at the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Ed Tech, she was the Digital Learning Specialist for the Nebraska Department of Education where she led professional learning and advocated for school librarians. This experience granted her a unique perspective on leveraging educational technology in urban, suburban, and rural school systems. Kristina started as an early childhood and elementary teacher of emerging bilingual students in Omaha, Nebraska.


Laura Jimenez

Senior Advisor, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

Laura Jimenez comes the U.S. Department of Education with more than 20 years in education, most recently having served as the director of standards and accountability at the Center for American Progress. Her work focused on advancing policies that would improve the quality of all K-12 public schools. Prior to that role, she served as a director of a national comprehensive center operated by American Institutes for Research, the College and Career Readiness and Success Center, providing technical assistance to state departments of education. That role followed her service as a special assistant in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education within the Obama administration. She holds a Bachelor's degree in English from the University of California at Los Angeles and a Master's in Social Welfare from the University of California at Berkeley.


Jordan Johnson

Deputy Director of Advance, Office of the Secretary

Jordan Lacy Johnson most recently served as a National Press Advance Lead for the Biden-Harris campaign, specializing in press advance and event activation in Georgia. Prior to the Biden-Harris campaign, Jordan was a member of the executive communications staff for Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. She oversaw strategic communications and engagement for the Mayor and the City. Jordan previously served as the Communications Director for the Mayor's Office of Resilience, 100 Resilient Cities program pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation where she led efforts on a wide range of environmental and educational issues. Before joining the Office of Resilience, Jordan worked for Governor Martin O'Malley and other state-level politicians through their professorships and teaching residencies at the University of Maryland. She spent her early years in the political industry having served as an aide in the White House Office of Public Engagement under the Obama-Biden administration. She holds a bachelor's degree from Spelman College.


DeAndre Jones

Special Assistant, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education

With over 15 years of experience, DeAndre Jones is a higher education administrative professional. Committed to completion, DeAndre's passion is creating educational pathways and opportunities for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. During his career he has worked with the gamut of students in higher education at various types of institutions. Most of his career was spent working at the Community College of Philadelphia. He believes in the life-changing opportunities provided by post-secondary education completion and that all students should have the exposure and access to these opportunities.


Kabrillen Jones

Chief of Staff, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

Kabrillen Jones most recently served as a consultant for UPD Consulting and a business analyst for education technology firm Crocus. Prior to these roles, she served as a policy analyst for the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education, where she worked on a variety of K-12 issues with a primary focus on regulation and guidance on special education. She is a graduate of Spelman College and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.


Aileen Kim

Special Assistant, Office of the Secretary

Aileen Kim has spent her career developing and executing advocacy and electoral campaigns in states across the country. She most recently served as a senior consultant at Tusk Philanthropies, where she managed initiatives to end childhood hunger and advance mobile voting. Prior to that, Aileen worked for a boutique public affairs firm, where she ran campaigns on a broad range of progressive issues. She began her career as a District Director for an Illinois State Representative and Producer for ABC News. Aileen is a native Chicagoan and proud daughter of Korean immigrants. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from New York University and Master's in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University.


James Kvaal

Under Secretary

James Kvaal formerly was president of the Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), a research and advocacy nonprofit dedicated to affordability and equity in higher education. Kvaal served in the Obama Administration as the deputy domestic policy adviser at the White House and deputy undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Education. He led efforts to cut student loan monthly payments, hold career colleges accountable for excessive debts, and make community colleges tuition-free. He helped organize the White House Summit on College Opportunity, which featured more than 100 college presidents and other leaders committing to actions to help more students graduate from college. He also has served in senior roles in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Kvaal taught at the University of Michigan's Ford School of Public Policy, and graduated with honors from Stanford University and Harvard Law School.


Stephen Lamb

Confidential Assistant, Office of Postsecondary Education

Stephen Lamb recently worked in various states for the Biden-Harris campaign as a field organizer in Michigan, Illinois, Nevada, and Iowa. Prior to working on the Biden campaign, Stephen graduated from Indiana State University in May 2019, where he served as student government president his senior year. Stephen earned a bachelors degree in history and political science and graduated magna cum laude.


Emily Lamont

Special Assistant, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education

Emily Huntress Lamont has over a decade of experience in political, domestic policy and innovative nonprofit and for-profit operations. Most recently, she worked on the Biden for President campaign as policy associate for Arizona. She also served as a program manager at 4-CT, a statewide COVID-19 relief fund. At 4-CT, Emily designed, developed and operated a direct financial assistance program for Connecticut's most vulnerable immigrant residents. Previously, she served as COO/CFO for the successful 2018 campaign for the governor of Connecticut. In addition, Emily was on the founding team of a successful venture studio and venture fund, and she spent years in healthcare policy consulting. She began her career in Beirut, Lebanon working on a USAID education project. She holds a master's degree in public policy from Harvard Kennedy School of Government, a Master of Business Administration from Stanford Graduate School of Business, and a bachelor's degree from Harvard University.


James Lane

Senior Advisor, Office of the Secretary

Dr. James Lane most recently served as Virginia's 25th Superintendent of Public Instruction, a position appointed by the Governor of Virginia. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Lane was a division superintendent in three school divisions in Virginia (Chesterfield, Goochland, and Middlesex Counties). Throughout his career, he has served as an Assistant Superintendent, Principal, and Assistant Principal after beginning his career as a Teacher/Band Director. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, and the University of Virginia.


Kelly Leon

Press Secretary (serving as Acting Assistant Secretary), Office of Communications and Outreach

Kelly Leon most recently served as communications officer at the Kresge Foundation where she supported the foundation's Education and American Cities grantmaking programs. She previously served as communications and advocacy officer at the Institute for Higher Education Policy. She also previously served as assistant press secretary in the Office of Communications and Outreach and as confidential assistant in the Office of Postsecondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education during the Obama-Biden administration. Prior to her work at the Department of Education, she served in strategic communications roles at the District of Columbia Public Schools system and George Washington University.


Catherine Lhamon

Assistant Secretary, Office for Civil Rights

Catherine Lhamon recently served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council for Racial Justice and Equity, where she managed the President's equity policy portfolio. Until January 2021, she chaired the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, to which President Obama appointed her in 2016, and served as Legal Affairs Secretary to California Governor Gavin Newsom. Before then, Lhamon was Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education, to which President Obama nominated her and the Senate confirmed her in 2013. Lhamon has also litigated civil rights cases at National Center for Youth Law, Public Counsel Law Center, and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California. Lhamon taught federal civil rights appeals at Georgetown University Law Center in the Appellate Litigation Program, and clerked for the Honorable William A. Norris on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Born in Virginia and raised in California, Lhamon graduated from Amherst College and Yale Law School. Lhamon, her husband and two teenagers moved from California to Maryland.


Kevin Lima

Special Assistant, Office of Communications and Outreach

Kevin Lima was the youth political director for the DNC. Kevin led youth engagement inside and outside of the DNC and helped build youth infrastructure to help Democrats win key races across the country while simultaneously developing a diverse leadership pipeline to strengthen the future of the Democratic party. Kevin has been a progressive political organizer since graduating with a political science degree from The Pennsylvania State University in 2016. He was an organizer for the Nevada State Coordinated Campaign in Las Vegas where he organized to elect the first Latina senator, Catherine Cortez Masto, and worked for NextGen America as their California campus and organizing director for the 2018 midterm.


Lynda Lopez

Senior Advisor, Office of the Secretary

Lynda Lopez joins the Department of Education after serving as anchor and special projects reporter for WCBS newsradio in New York, as part of a career of reporting on politics and nonprofits. Previously, Lynda served as Director of Development, then Digital Content Director at Los Angeles-based Nuyorican Productions. Lynda is a New York City native, and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from Long Island University.


Amy Loyd

Assistant Secretary, Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education

Amy Loyd, Ed.L.D., has an extensive background in education and the nonprofit sector and has designed and led programs across the U.S. that improve education and workforce outcomes for people and strengthen communities. Most recently, Dr. Loyd was a Vice President at Jobs for the Future, where she led the organization's programs in career pathways that span K12 and postsecondary education and training into the world of work; in workforce development with a lens on economic advancement; in policy that creates lasting, systemic improvements; and in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Dr. Loyd holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy and mathematics from St. John's College and a doctorate in education leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she has taught a policy and management class on using career pathways to increase opportunity and equity.


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Hollie Mackey

Executive Director, White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Native Americans and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities, Office of the Secretary

Hollie Mackey is an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne nation and earned a bachelor's and master's degrees in Public Relations from Montana State University-Billings, her doctorate in Educational Leadership from the Pennsylvania State University, and her master of legal studies in Indigenous Peoples law from the University of Oklahoma. Her research and teaching empirically examines structural inequity of Indigenous and other marginalized populations in educational leadership and public policy. As an experienced policy consultant, public speaker, program evaluator, and educator, she seeks to use her experiential knowledge as an Indigenous community member coupled with her research to bridge theory and practice as a means of addressing complex social issues from an interdisciplinary perspective. Prior to her appointment, Dr. Mackey served as research faculty at North Dakota State University, the Executive Director of the Indigenous Association, the Executive Director for the Consortium for the Study of Leadership and Ethics in Education, and the Associate Co-Director for the Barbara L. Jackson Scholars Network through the University Council for Educational Administration.


Sophie Maher

Confidential Assistant, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

Sophie Maher joined the Biden for President primary campaign in New Hampshire in July 2019 as an Operations Intern. Sophie went on to serve as President and Founder of Students for Biden, Memphis TN Chapter and the Tennessee Representative of Students for Biden Leadership Council for her final year of college. Following graduation, she joined the New Hampshire Democratic Coordinated Campaign as a Field Organizer in June 2020 and Operations Associate for Pennsylvania Democratic Coordinated Campaign in August 2020. Prior to rejoining the campaign in June, Sophie graduated from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Economy.


Ben Martel

Confidential Assistant, Office of Legislative and Congressional Affairs

Ben Martel joined the Biden for President primary campaign in August 2019. Ben went on to serve as a Regional Organizing Director in Florida for the Biden-Harris general election campaign. Ben was also a Regional GOTV Director in Atlanta for the Georgia Senate runoff elections. A proud Marylander, Ben graduated from Brown University in May 2019.


Cindy Marten

Deputy Secretary

Cynthia "Cindy" Marten was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the Deputy Secretary on May 11, 2021.  Before joining ED, Marten served as the superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District since 2013.  As superintendent, she directed the implementation of the district's vision and 2020 commitment to a meaningful graduation for all students. This allowed for the district to achieve the highest graduation rate among big-city districts in California as well as the fastest reading growth of large urban districts nationwide in 2019.  Prior to being appointed superintendent, for ten years Marten worked in one of San Diego's most ethnically diverse and economically challenged school communities, at Central Elementary School in City Heights. She has spent 32 years as an educator, holding various roles of increasing responsibility as an advocate for health and wellness, as a teacher, literacy specialist, vice principal, and principal. These roles have allowed for her to establish a commitment to educating the whole child through an emphasis on social and emotional learning and the arts, combined with academic rigor.


Jordan Matsudaira

Deputy Under Secretary and Chief Economist, Office of the Under Secretary

Jordan Matsudaira is an associate professor of economics and education policy at Teachers College Columbia University. His research leverages administrative data, working with government and institution partners, to understand and improve education and labor market programs and policies aimed at promoting the mobility of low-income Americans. He previously served as chief economist of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, where he contributed to higher education access and accountability initiatives and policies to support lower wage workers and workforce development. He is also visiting associate professor at the School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, senior research scholar at the Community College Research Center, and a nonresident fellow at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C.


JoAnn Martinez

Senior Advisor-Oversight, Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs

JoAnn Martinez most recently served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Legislation at the Department of Health and Human Services, where she oversaw the Department’s work on oversight and investigations, as well as audit activity. Prior to that position, she served over 20 years at the Government Accountability Office, writing reports and testimony for Congress on programs such as Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program as well as health care issues for vulnerable populations. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from UCLA, as well as a Juris Doctor and Master of Public Health from George Washington University.


Colleen May

Confidential Assistant, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

Colleen May graduated cum laude from University of Florida in 2019 with Bachelor's degrees in English and Political Science and a minor in Women's Studies. Her political experience began as a regional Senate intern for former Senator Bill Nelson in 2016, and has since gone on to intern with the Alzheimer's Association of Florida, the Andrew Gillum for Florida Governor campaign and most recently worked as a Joe Biden for President Fellow and Field Organizer from the Iowa Caucuses all the way to Election Day 2020. Her long term career goal is to serve in the West Wing and write the Presidential State of the Union address.


Patrick McCarthy

Special Assistant, Office of the General Counsel

Patrick McCarthy graduated from Colby College in 2017 as a Government major and Philosophy minor. After gaining experience in the public sector while completing his undergraduate degree, he joined Seyfarth Shaw LLP's immigration practice. He worked at the nexus of the private and public sectors, responsible for the work authorization and immigration status of foreign nationals seeking employment in specialty occupations. Patrick then joined the Biden For President campaign as Field Organizer for the New Hampshire primary. He was responsible for building relationships with local community leaders and establishing the grassroots campaign infrastructure across the largest county in the state. After traveling to Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, and virtually to Georgia for each states' primary, he joined the Florida Democratic Party for the general election as a Regional Organizing Director. While in Florida, Patrick created and directed the voter contact strategy for the thirteen counties in Florida's panhandle, including Tallahassee. After the election, Patrick joined the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort as their Accountant, managing the resort's entire cash flow and internal accounting structure.


Catherine McConnell

Special Assistant, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development

Catherine recently served as the Director of Strategic Initiatives at Rhode Island's Office of Postsecondary Commissioner. Prior to that role, she served as the Education Policy Advisor to Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo where she oversaw policies and programming that spanned the K-12, postsecondary, and workforce space, working on programs ranging from the coordination between the systems to ensure all students are college and career ready to supporting youth mental health. During the COVID response, she coordinated the efforts to equitably and safely reopen childcare, summer camp, K-12 schools, and higher education institutions in Rhode Island, coordinating across all of state government. Catherine was a classroom teacher, working as a 4th and 5th grade teacher in a low-income area of Dorchester Massachusetts and a Special Education teacher in Washington, DC. She received her bachelor's from Brandeis University, Master of Special Education from George Mason University, and Master of Education Policy from Harvard's Graduate School of Education.


Lauren Mendoza

Deputy Assistant Secretary for State and Local Outreach, Office of Communication and Outreach

Lauren Mendoza joins the U.S. Department of Education with more than a decade of experience in state and federal education policy and a demonstrated commitment to advancing opportunities for all. Most recently, Lauren served as the Policy Manager for the First Five Years Fund, working to develop and advance FFYF’s early learning policy agenda. Prior to FFYF, Lauren was a Principal Research Analyst for the Kansas Legislative Research Department, a nonpartisan research staff for the Kansas Legislature. In that role, Lauren led the Department’s Education Policy Team and was lead staff for the House and Senate Education Committees, among others. A native Kansan, Lauren is a graduate of Washburn University School of Law and MidAmerica Nazarene University.


Toby Merrill

Deputy General Counsel, Office of the General Counsel

Toby Merrill previously founded and directed the Project on Predatory Student Lending at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, and taught the predatory lending and consumer protection clinic. The Project represents low-income student loan borrowers in litigation against for-profit colleges and against the policies that enable them. The Project brings cases that enforce the rights of student loan borrowers and works closely with numerous state and federal enforcement agencies. Toby has twice represented legal aid providers and their clients in the Department of Education's negotiated rulemaking process. She also served on the Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure's advisory board on private occupational schools. Toby joined the Legal Services Center's predatory lending practice as a Skadden Fellow, after a federal clerkship. She graduated from Harvard Law School and Yale College.


Ben Miller

Deputy Under Secretary, Office of the Under Secretary

Ben Miller is a temporary appointment as a Senior Advisor to the Chief of Staff. Before joining the agency, he was the Vice President for Postsecondary Education at the Center for American Progress. He also previously served as a senior policy advisor in the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Education.


Jessa Mirtle

Senior Counsel, Office of the General Counsel

Jessa Mirtle most recently served as the Legal Director for the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE), where she was the general counsel leading a team responsible for legal advice to the Commissioner of Education, Connecticut State Board of Education, and the CSDE, on a wide range of issues pertaining to PreK-12 education. During her time at the CSDE, she worked closely with the Connecticut leadership to shape the education-related response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to joining the CSDE, Jessa was a long-time public servant, having worked in higher education for the University of Connecticut (UCONN) as an employment attorney and senior labor relations associate, and previously as an attorney for the City of Waterbury Corporation Counsel's Office. Her education comes from Trinity College and UConn Law School, both in Hartford, Connecticut. She also holds a certificate in Labor Relations/Contract Administration from Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations.


Jen Mishory

Deputy Assistant Secretary (serving as Acting Assistant Secretary), Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education

Jen Mishory most recently served as a senior fellow and senior policy advisor at The Century Foundation, working on policies related to higher education finance at the federal and state level, workforce development, and health care coverage. Prior to joining TCF, she co-founded and served as the executive director of Young Invincibles. While at YI, Jen led initiatives focused on policy solutions to a range of economic challenges facing today's young people.


Staci Monreal, Senior Advisor

Office of the Secretary/Deputy Secretary

Staci most recently served as the Chief of Staff for the San Diego Unified School District. She has spent 32 years as an educator, holding various roles of increasing responsibility as a teacher, resource teacher, vice principal, principal, and Director of Literacy. Staci holds a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies from San Diego State University and a Master of Science in Educational Administration from National University.


Melanie Muenzer

Chief of Staff, Office of the Under Secretary

Melanie most recently served as the Associate Vice President and Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives at the University of Oregon. She was also an elected member of the board of education for Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. She previously served at the U.S. Department of Education from 2009-2015 under the Obama Administration as White House liaison, chief of staff in the policy office, and deputy assistant secretary for higher education policy. Prior to her work at the Department of Education, she served on President Obama's 2008 campaign and his Presidential Transition Team. Melanie began her career running accounting and operations in the private sector before shifting to political campaigns and policy work. She has a Bachelor's in General Management from Purdue University and a Master's in Public Affairs from Indiana University.


Maggie Murphy

Director of Scheduling & Advance, Office of the Secretary

Maggie Murphy has been a social studies teacher since 2013, and has taught in Texas and New York. Maggie worked on the Biden-Harris campaign as director of surrogate advance. On President Obama's re-election campaign, she was a political trip coordinator for Mrs. Obama. Since 2011, Maggie served on President Biden's advance teams on domestic and international trips. Maggie is a graduate of Scripps College and earned her master's degree in education from Southern Methodist University.


Ashley Mushnick

Special Assistant, Office of Communications and Outreach

Ashley Mushnick is a speechwriter and communications strategist with over a decade of experience helping government leaders persuade, inspire, and connect with diverse domestic and international audiences. Prior to joining the Biden-Harris Administration, Ashley spent five years speechwriting for U.S. Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, during which she wrote about everything from immigration reform and human rights to climate change and college affordability. She previously served as Deputy Director of Speechwriting at the U.S. Department of Commerce, and as Director of Communications and Policy for Congressman Ted Deutch of Florida. Ashley has an M.A. in Communication from Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. in Government and Philosophy from American University.


Shannon Myricks

White House Liaison, Office of the Secretary

Shannon Myricks is passionate about bringing the benefits of innovative technology, administration, and efficient systems to the government space. Most recently, Shannon served as the Deputy White House Liaison and did a stint as the Acting White House Liaison for the Department of Health and Human Services. Prior to this, she was the Coordinated Chief of Staff for the Florida Coordinated Campaign and the Operations/HR Director for Organizing Together 2020 in Arizona. Shannon served as the Diversity & Inclusion Lead and People Operations Manager for emerging location tech company, Mapbox. She also served in the Obama Administration from 2011-2014 in the Office of Management and Administration. Shannon earned a B.A. in Media Studies and B.A. in African American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Juris Doctor from the UCLA School of Law, where she specialized in Media, Entertainment & Technology Law and Policy.


Katherine Neas

Deputy Assistant Secretary (serving as Acting Assistant Secretary), Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

Katherine Neas previously served as senior vice president of public affairs at APTA. In this role, she oversees APTA's federal and state government public policy activities, federal regulatory affairs, grassroots and political action efforts, public relations along with payment and practice management activities. Prior to joining APTA, Mrs. Neas spent 23 years at Easterseals, a national nonprofit provider of direct services to children and adults with disabilities and their families. Her roles at Easterseals included service on the senior management team, federal and state government relations advocacy, oversight of federal grants and contracts and management of the Easterseals Office of Public Affairs. A long-time disability rights ally, she began her career on the Senate Subcommittee on Disability Policy during the development and enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act. A graduate of Georgetown University, she hails from Des Moines, Iowa.


Sheila Nix

Chief of Staff, Office of the Secretary

Before joining the Department of Education of Chief of Staff, Sheila was the President of Tusk Philanthropies, where she oversaw national and state-based campaigns to end childhood hunger and expand mobile voting. Her three decades of leadership in political, domestic policy, and innovative nonprofit operations include serving as Chief of Staff to Dr. Jill Biden, Deputy Assistant to President Obama, Deputy Governor of Illinois, Chief of Staff to two U.S. Senators, and U.S. Executive Director of Bono’s ONE Campaign. Sheila has experience coordinating policy and communications for signature efforts serving veterans, teachers, students, and women and girls across the globe; creating and executing voter outreach plans for various presidential and gubernatorial campaigns; and coordinating resources across the country to fight poverty and disease in Sub-Saharan Africa. She is a graduate of Creighton University and the University of Chicago Law School.


Mintaro Oba

Chief Speechwriter, Office of Communication and Outreach

Mintaro Oba most recently served as Speechwriter to the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. Prior to that position, Mintaro was a Director at West Wing Writers, a speechwriting and communications strategy firm, a commentator on foreign policy issues, and co-founder of Speechwriters of Color, an initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the speechwriting field. He began his career in the Civil Service at the U.S. Department of State, working on Korean Peninsula foreign policy issues. He is a graduate of American University and the son of two immigrants and educators.


Keigo O'Haru

Confidential Assistant, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

In his most recent position, Keigo O'Haru served as an Operations Assistant on the Appointments Team on the Biden-Harris Transition. Prior to the transition, Keigo was a member of the Biden-Harris General Election and Primary Election serving as the National HQ Volunteer Coordinator. Keigo joined the campaign on June 3rd, 2019. Taking on various roles, he initially became the HQ Internship / Fellowship Coordinator slating and onboarding the first wave of interns and fellows. Afterwards he moved to his official role as Volunteer Coordinator, where he spearheaded the volunteer program and assisted national leadership departments in executing projects leading up to the general election. Entering the general, Keigo participated in reestablishing the Biden Corps program and supported the battleground GOTV volunteer initiative. In the final days of the campaign, Keigo worked on the PA Cure team. Prior to joining the BFP Campaign, Keigo was a Field Staffer on Pam Iovino's successful special election for the 37th district in PA. In that role, he managed the organizing program in the northern region of the district. He is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University with a B.A in Political Science, and currently resides in Chicago.


Adaku Onyeka-Crawford

Senior Counsel, Office for Civil Rights

Adaku Onyeka-Crawford is an advocate committed to ensuring our nation’s civil rights laws promote equity for historically marginalized communities. Most recently, she served as attorney advisor at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where she advised Chair Charlotte A. Burrows on a range of issues to advance racial and gender equity in the workplace. Prior to joining EEOC, Adaku was Director of Educational Equity & Senior Counsel at the National Women’s Law Center. There, she promoted educational attainment and empowerment for girls and women—particularly for Black and Latina girls, pregnant and parenting students, and survivors of sexual violence. From 2007 to 2011, she helped connect low-income families to housing, job training, and summer learning programs at the Chicago Housing Authority. Born and raised in Northwest Indiana (aka The Region), Adaku holds a B.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University, a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, and is the proud daughter of Nigerian immigrants. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband and two children.


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Kayla Patrick

Special Assistant, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development

Kayla Patrick most recently served as Senior Data and Policy Analyst at The Education Trust; where she led policy and advocacy around college and career readiness, as well as school discipline and climate. Kayla is lead author of several actionable and impactful reports including: Inequities in Advanced Coursework, And They Cared: How to Create Better, Safer Learning Environments for Girls of Color, and Strategies to Solve Unfinished Learning. Prior to joining The Education Trust, Kayla worked at the National Women's Law Center, where she conducted research and data analysis on critical issues that impact women and girls. Her seminal work, Dress Coded: Black Girls, Bodies and Bias in D.C. Schools, a report co-authored with 20 Black girls in Washington, D.C., highlights the harmful effects of dress codes on girls' education. This research drew widespread media coverage, and was featured in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Kayla holds a B.A. in Political Science from Wellesley College and an M.A. in Education Policy from Teachers College at Columbia University


Nasser Paydar

Assistant Secretary, Office of Post-Secondary Education

Dr. Nasser H. Paydar joins the U.S Department of Education as Assistant Secretary in the Office of Post-Secondary Education after most recently serving as chancellor of Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and executive vice president of Indiana University (IU). An IU faculty member for more than 36 years, he has held various administrative and executive leadership positions at the university. Paydar joined IUPUI in 1985 as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering. From 1989 to 2003, he held a number of positions in the school, including chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, associate dean for graduate programs, associate dean for academic programs, and executive associate dean. From 2004 to 2007, he served as vice chancellor and dean of Indiana University–Purdue University Columbus. Paydar was appointed chancellor of Indiana University East in 2007, serving in that role until he returned to IUPUI in 2012, when he was named the campus’s executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer. He became IUPUI’s fifth chancellor in 2015. As an IUPUI faculty member, he has served as principal and co-principal investigator on research grants from federal and state agencies and private companies, including Cummins Electronics, DePuy, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Army, and the U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center. His research in the area of solid mechanics, with applications in biomechanics and electronic packaging, has been published widely in scientific journals. Paydar earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering from Syracuse University.


Alex Payne

Director of Higher Education and Oversight Strategy, Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs

Alex Payne previously worked in the House of Representatives for Congresswoman Kim Schrier and prior to that the Committee on Education and Labor. Payne started out as a high school social studies teacher in Eastern North Carolina through Teach for America. His first job in Washington, D.C., was at the Partnership for Public Service partnering with the Department of Education on improving their Best Places to Work and FEVS results.


Clarence "CJ" Powell

Chief of Staff, Office of Postsecondary Education

CJ Powell most recently served as the higher education program analyst at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund. In this role, he staffed the higher education civil rights coalition, a table of more than 50 national civil rights and policy organizations. CJ began his career in education equity as a college adviser in the College Advising Corps, assisting students in rural North Carolina in planning their postsecondary lives. Following graduate school, CJ served as the founding director of college preparation for a new high school in Nashville, Tennessee. CJ holds a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies from the University of North Carolina and a Master of Science in education, in higher education, from the University of Pennsylvania.


Alexander Prowda

Confidential Assistant, Office of Communications and Outreach

Alexander Prowda joins the Communications and Outreach team after serving as Communications Associate in Arizona with the Biden campaign and working on the Presidential Inaugural Committee. He is a recent graduate from the University of Southern California (USC) during which time he interned at the NFL and Creative Artist Agency. During his time at USC, Prowda played an active role with Troy Camp, an organization committed to youth education and mentorship.


Luke Rhine

Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education

Luke Rhine joins the Biden-Harris Administration after most recently serving as the Associate Secretary of Workforce Support for the Delaware Department of Education. His work has supported the K-12, higher education, and the workforce systems to establish policy, scale effective practices, and develop solutions that connect youth and adults with good jobs that provide a living wage. Previously, Luke was a Program Specialist in CTE and STEM with the Maryland State Department of Education. In addition, he also gained experience working as a high school CTE teacher and middle school teacher. Luke has received several state and national awards for educational leadership, was a Fulbright scholar, and has served as an advisor to President Biden's education transition team and as a contributor to New York City Mayor Eric Adams's education transition team. Luke earned his bachelor's degree from California University of Pennsylvania and his Master of Science Degree in Education from Stockton University.


Juliana Rinz

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Planning, Evaluation, Policy Development

Juliana Rinz previously served as chief of staff and senior advisor at the Markle Foundation. Prior to that she was a deputy chief and Broad Resident at District of Columbia Public Schools, a senior policy advisor in the Office of Senator Michael Bennet, and an education policy analyst at the Center for American Progress.


Blanchi Roblero

Chief of Staff, Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs

Blanchi Roblero will serve as chief of staff at the Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs. Blanchi started her career at the U.S. Department of Education in 2012, where she managed a range of policy and funding areas, including appropriations, civil rights policy, higher education policy and other key policy issue areas. She has passionately engaged in advocacy efforts addressing immigrants' and women's issues in the education field. As a former student-immigrant herself, she understands the importance of empowering students by encouraging them to explore and learn stories about their communities to preserve history and promote inclusiveness.


Fabiola Rodriguez

Deputy Press Secretary, Office of Communications and Outreach

Fabiola Rodriguez most recently served as deputy communications director at the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. In this role Rodriguez supported the chairman, former Attorney General Eric Holder and the organization, in developing and executing a comprehensive communication strategy to ensure fair districts across the country. She previously served as deputy national press secretary, and Hispanic media advisor at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, as well as a press secretary and legislative staffer to several California members in the U.S. House of Representatives. She holds a bachelor's degree in Sociology and Latin American Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz and is working on a master's degree in Political Communication at the Johns Hopkins University.


Jennifer Rodriguez

Confidential Assistant, Office of General Council

Jennifer joins the Biden-Harris administration after working on the coordinated campaign in the battleground state of Florida, where she served as the Digital Communities Manager. Prior to joining the campaign, she graduated from the University of Florida in May of 2020 and has continued her education by pursuing a Master's in Public Policy from George Washington University. She is a proud native of Miami, Florida.


Roberto Rodriguez

Assistant Secretary, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development

Roberto Rodríguez has dedicated his career in government and in the non-profit sector to advancing education equity, access, and excellence. He is nationally recognized for his leadership in early childhood, K-12 and postsecondary education policy, and for building multi-sector partnerships with educators, policymakers, school leaders and communities to better respond to the needs of diverse learners.  Most recently, Rodríguez served as President and CEO of Teach Plus where he built an equity-driven teacher leadership movement that engaged thousands of teachers to shape public policy and instructional practice to deliver greater opportunity for students. Rodríguez led efforts at the White House to shape and implement President Obama's education agenda, serving on the Domestic Policy Council as Deputy Assistant to the President for the duration of the Obama Administration. Prior to his service in the White House, Rodríguez spent eight years as Senior Education Advisor and later Chief Counsel to the late U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), former Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.


Elias Romanos

Special Assistant, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education

Elias grew up in Los Angeles, California, and is a graduate of Emerson College with a B.S. in political communications. He began his career working on campaigns as a fellow with the Virginia Coordinated Campaign in 2017. Finding passion through service, Elias continued his work on campaigns with Iowa's 2018 coordinated campaign. In 2019 he became the field director for Virginia State Sen. Ghazala Hashmi's historic state senate campaign. After helping turn the Virginia Senate blue, Elias joined the Biden for President campaign in Iowa and was deployed to a number of states throughout the primary before joining the Arizona Coordinated Campaign as a regional field director. He is excited to put his passion for improving our country's education system to work.


Megan Romero

Confidential Assistant, Office of Communications & Outreach

Megan Romero joins the Biden Harris Administration after most recently serving as Regional Organizing Director with the 2020 Florida Coordinated Campaign in her hometown of Miami, FL. Prior to her time with the 2020 campaign, Megan gained valuable experience traveling the United States to mobilize voters in states that include Iowa, New York, South Carolina, and Florida.


Christopher Rush

Senior Advisor of Innovation, Office of the Secretary

Chris joins the department with a critical focus on reimagining the role of technology and innovation in teaching and learning, as we move towards a post pandemic world. He also co-founded New Classrooms Innovation Partners, a nonprofit focused on new instructional models including the School of One personalized learning program, named one of Time Magazine's Top 50 Inventions of the Year. There he has served as both chief program officer overseeing model design, build and nationwide school implementation as well as de facto chief operating officer/president overseeing day to day organizational activities. Previously, Chris most notably worked in the Office of Accountability at the NYC Department of Education to co-lead and salvage the design and development of NYC's $95MM+ Achievement Reporting and Innovation System; launched an ed-tech consulting services practice at Amplify Education; specialized in financial management and IT development services at IBM; launched a pair of tech startups during the dotcom bubble; and taught earth sciences for the Upper Dublin (PA) School District at Robbins Park Environmental Center. Chris is a Pahara Fellow alum of the Aspen Institute, a recipient of the Robin Hood Heroes award, and holds a Master of Science in information technology and a Bachelor of Science in management science and information systems. He is a recurring university guest lecturer at Stanford and Harvard Business Schools and sits on a number of boards of national social impact organizations.


Hussien Salama

Traveling Digital Director, Office of Communications and Outreach

Hussien Salama brings a decade of Digital Content experience to the Biden-Harris Administration. Hussien was born and raised in northwest Georgia to Egyptian immigrants parents. After gaining valuable experience in digital video with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committe, he moved to Chicago to serve on a project that chronicled the 2019 Chicago Mayoral Race. Hussien later served as a videographer with the Pete Buttigieg for President Campaign and most recently worked in the Georgia runoff election to help elect Senator Jon Ossoff. He graduated from Columbia College- Chicago with a degree in multimedia journalism.


Marco Sanchez

Special Assistant, Office of Legislative and Congressional Affairs

Marco Sanchez most recently served as a Regional Organizing Director in Georgia for the 2020 general election and worked on President Biden's presidential campaign in Iowa as a field organizer. Prior to joining President Biden's campaign, Marco worked on Congressman David Trone's (MD-6) campaign and also worked on David Blair's campaign for Montgomery County Executive. Additionally, he worked for the Close Up Foundation, where he taught civics to middle and high school students. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from American University in Washington, D.C. Marco is a proud first generation Mexican-American from San Diego, California.


Jorge Santiago

Special Assistant, Office of the Secretary/Office of the Deputy Secretary

Jorge Santiago most recently worked in operations for the Florida Democratic Party in coordination with the Biden for President campaign. Prior to joining the Florida Democratic Party, he worked as Field Director on a congressional campaign in South West Florida. Santiago also previously worked on Pete Buttigieg's presidential campaign as a Scheduling Assistant, Operations Assistant, and Field Organizer. He is a graduate of the University of Florida.


Scott Sargrad

Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Programs, Office of the Secretary

Scott Sargrad was most recently vice president for K-12 education at the Center for American Progress. Previously, he served in the U.S. Department of Education during the Obama Administration as deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education; senior policy advisor in the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development; and Presidential Management Fellow in the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. Sargrad began his career as a special education paraprofessional, math teacher, and cross-country and track coach, and is a graduate of Haverford College and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.


Greg Schmidt

Chief of Staff, Office of the General Counsel

Greg Schmidt returns to the Department after six years at the law firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, where his work included representing institutions, organizations, and students in a variety of K-12 and post-secondary education matters. He also worked as a Special Assistant Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Prior to his legal career, Schmidt taught fifth grade at P.S. 213 in Brooklyn, New York, and served as a senior policy advisor in the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development at the Department.


Adam Schott

Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

Adam Schott most recently served as Special Assistant to Pennsylvania's Secretary of Education, where he led efforts to redesign the state's accountability system, strengthen oversight of the state's virtual school sector, and implement the nation's first commissioned research on school reopening to include modeling on disease transmission. Schott previously led the policy research arm of Philadelphia-based Research for Action and served as Executive Director of the PA State Board of Education. He is a graduate of Penn State and Harvard.


Shital Shah

Director of Strategic Partnerships, Office of the Secretary 

Shital was the Director of Philanthropic Engagement at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). She also served on the 2020 Biden-Harris Transition Team for the US Department of Education. In her previous role, she cultivated  and strengthened relationships with philanthropic and education industry partners to garner support for improving children's well-being, creating powerful learning, building teacher capacity, and fostering school and community collaboration. She also managed AFT's Innovation Fund grant-making efforts with a $1m budget, offering local communities the opportunity to incubate best practices locally and share with the field nationally as well as highlighting them to the philanthropic community. In this role she also oversaw AFT's inter-departmental community school strategy, as well as the Center for School Improvement Institute, supporting both local field and national efforts.  She has spent over a decade working in the field of community schools policy and practice.  Through her work with local and national partners, she has provided strategic support and guidance to state and local affiliates related to policy, advocacy and school and district implementation of approaches to the community school strategy and extended learning time, including implications for collective bargaining.  She currently sits on the National Coalition for Community Schools Steering Committee, where she advises on the Coalition's strategic priorities. Previously, as the Manager of Policy & Partnerships, with the Coalition for Community Schools, she was responsible for partnership development and management at the local and national levels; federal and state policy coordination; and helping develop federal policy recommendations and briefs.


Heather Shuttleworth

Confidential Assistant, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development

Heather Shuttleworth most recently served as Executive Assistant & Special Projects Associate for Teach Plus, an organization that grows and empowers teacher leaders to create an equitable education system for students. Prior to that, she spent seven years in the classroom as a Kindergarten Instructional Assistant for Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia. Heather earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from James Madison University.


Maggie Siddiqi

Director, Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Office of the Secretary

Prior to joining the Biden-Harris administration, Maggie Siddiqi served as senior director of the Religion and Faith team at the Center for American Progress, where she led the organization's work on religious liberty and engaged a coalition of diverse faith leaders to advance progressive policies. Prior to that, Siddiqi spent nearly a decade in national organizations serving American Muslim communities, with a focus on interfaith relations and faith-based advocacy. Siddiqi started her career by interning for U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and serving as a field organizer in President Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. Siddiqi received a master's degree in Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations and graduate certificate in Islamic chaplaincy from Hartford Seminary, and has a bachelor's degree in religion from Wesleyan University.


Nick Simmons

Senior Advisor for School Reopening and Recovery, Office of the Secretary

Nick Simmons most recently served as Director of Strategic Initiatives for the State of Connecticut and Policy Advisor to Gov. Ned Lamont. As Policy Advisor, Nick designed, led, and coordinated key policy initiatives for the Lamont Administration with a particular focus on educational equity, workforce development and economic development. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Simmons served as lead from the Governor's office for coordinating with Connecticut's Department of Education and Department of Public Health to safely reopen K-12 schools, to close the K-12 digital divide, and support students with remote learning. He began his educational career in Harlem, New York, serving as a seventh-grade math teacher, assistant-principal and acting school leader. He holds a master's degree in public policy from Harvard Kennedy School of Government, a master of business administration from Harvard Business School, and a bachelor's degree from Yale University.


Chris Soto

Senior Advisor, Office of the Secretary

Chris Soto joins the U.S. Department of Education after serving as the Director of Innovation and Partnerships at the Connecticut State Department of Education. Chris held previous roles in state government as the Lamont Administration's Director of Legislative Affairs and served as State Representative for New London, CT in the Connecticut General Assembly. Following his active-duty service in the U.S. Coast Guard, Chris founded and led Higher Edge, a college-access organization that serves first-generation college-bound students on their postsecondary journeys. He holds an MPA from Brown University and a bachelor's degree from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.


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Tiffany Taber

Director of Speechwriting and Editorial Content, Office of Communications and Outreach

Tiffany L. Taber is an experienced leader in the education, nonprofit, and government sectors, managing efforts to expand equity and opportunity and strengthen communities. Most recently, she worked at The Education Trust, a national education and civil rights nonprofit, where she led the organization's strategic planning efforts, served as a chief message strategist, and provided counsel to the executive team as senior adviser to the President and CEO and 10th U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. Prior to this role, Tiffany was Chief of Staff for Communications Development at the U.S. Department of Education, where she worked to set the vision for the agency's messaging and outreach, advised on elementary and secondary education policy, and served as a Cabinet-level speechwriter. Previously, Tiffany was a site director for a nonprofit tutoring program in Washington, D.C., and a high school English teacher with the Baltimore City Public Schools in Maryland. Tiffany holds a master's degree in education policy and management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a bachelor's degree in English and certification in secondary education from Connecticut College.


Ramin Taheri

Chief of Staff, Office for Civil Rights

Ramin Taheri most recently served as the executive director of the Washington, DC, chapter of Democrats for Education Reform. He was previously general counsel and director of advocacy at Chiefs for Change, a nonprofit education advocacy organization whose members lead district and state education systems. Ramin has also served as a special assistant to the Deputy Mayor for Education in Washington, DC; as a senior policy advisor in the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development; and as a senior attorney in the Department's Office for Civil Rights. Ramin holds a B.A. from the University of Maryland, an M.A. from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a law degree from Boston University. He lives in DC with his wife and two children, both of whom attend public schools.


Joaquin Tamayo

Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary

Joaquin Tamayo, a former high school teacher and principal, formerly served as a Senior Policy Advisor at EducationCounsel. In this capacity, Joaquin helped to lead the Science of Learning and Development (SoLD) Alliance, a national partnership of leading education organizations working to make knowledge from the science of learning and development a key driver of equity and excellence for all students. Before joining EdCounsel, Joaquin co-founded and was National Director of the Middle School Kindness Challenge at Stand for Children. In January 2017, Joaquin completed nearly three years of executive branch service in the Obama Administration as Director of Strategic Initiatives for Elementary and Secondary Education at the United States Department of Education.  At USED, he created and led initiatives across the federal government and through public-private partnerships to substantially improve conditions for student learning in the nation's public schools.  Prior to his federal service, Joaquin was assistant director of the Aspen Institute Education & Society Program, where he managed the Aspen Congressional Education Staff Network.  And, in 2005, he led a team of educators to found the Urban Assembly Academy of Government and Law (AGL), a small, government and law-themed public high school in New York City's Lower East Side. Joaquin began his career in education in 1998 as a social studies teacher and student activities director in the Los Angeles Unified School District. He holds a B.A in political science from Columbia University and a Master of Public Affairs from Princeton University.


Rachel Thomas

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications, Office of Communications and Outreach

Rachel Thomas is an experienced communications leader in campaigns, government, public policy, and business. Previously, she served as Northeast Communications Director for Joe Biden's presidential campaign, where she oversaw the communications strategy and teams across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, including Pennsylvania, Maine, New Hampshire, and Virginia. Prior to that, she served as Deputy Communications Director for Pete Buttigieg's presidential campaign and Beto O'Rourke's presidential bid. Rachel formerly led communications at ACRONYM, and prior to that was a member of the External Relations team at IBM, where she built award-winning campaigns elevating the company's leadership across the globe. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Communication and Public Service.


Matthias Tillmann

Confidential Assistant, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

Matthias most recently served as Field Director for Congressman Don Beyer's 2022 re-election campaign. Prior to that, he worked on Biden for President Campaign as a Field Organizer with the South Carolina, Florida, & Virginia primaries initially and later as a Regional Organizing Director in North Carolina for the general election. Previously, Matthias held roles with Organizing for Action, The Ohio Democratic Party, and the 2016 North Carolina Coordinated Campaign. Matthias is a proud graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he earned his bachelor's degree with a double major in Political Science and Communication Studies.


LaWanda Toney

Senior Advisor, Office of the Secretary

LaWanda Toney joins the Biden Harris Administration after most recently serving as the Director of Strategic Communications at the National Parent Teacher Association (National PTA), whose mission is to empower families and communities to advocate for all children, and she has been a part of the association for over 12 years. She manages the National PTA's communications team in the areas of web, social media, editorial, creative development, and media relations. Prior to working at National PTA, LaWanda managed marketing programs, planned special events and created communications campaigns for major retailers, nonprofits, publishing, and advertising companies. LaWanda holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcast journalism from Howard University and a Master of Arts in strategic communication with an emphasis in public relations from Trinity University. She is also a member of American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and ColorComm, an organization for women of color in all areas of communications.


Dietra Trent

Executive Director, White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Office of the Secretary

Dietra Trent earned a bachelor's degree in Sociology and Criminal Justice from Hampton University and completed her master's and doctoral degrees in Public Administration and Policy from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has over twenty-five years of experience working to advance equity for Virginia's most disadvantaged populations. Most recently, she served in several leadership positions at George Mason University, including chief of staff and interim VP for Compliance, Diversity, and Ethics. In 2016, Dr. Trent was appointed as Virginia's Secretary of Education. Prior to her appointment, she served as Deputy Secretary of Education, a position she also held during the administration of then-Governor Tim Kaine. Having served in the Administrations of three former Governors (including Mark Warner), as well as the Office of Congressman Bobby Scott, she has a wealth of federal, state, and higher education experience.


Loredana Valtierra

Special Assistant, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development

Loredana was recently education policy counsel for the House Committee on Education and Labor under Chairman Bobby Scott and worked on K-12 and juvenile justice policy. Prior to her position on the Committee, Loredana worked to promote equitable school policies for girls of color and represented pregnant and parenting students at the National Women's Law Center. She has also represented immigrant children and families and is a former 7th grade English teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School. Loredana is a proud Chicagoan and daughter of immigrant parents.


Claire Viall

Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs

Claire Viall joins the Biden Harris administration, after most recently serving as Senior Education Advisor with the U.S House of Representatives. She brings over a decade of legislative experience to the role and prior to her work with the U.S House of Representatives, she served with International Center for Research on Women along with a multitude of other valuable experiences. In addition, Claire obtained a Bachelor of Arts from University of California-Berkley as well as a Master of Public Policy from George Washington University.


Niki Wagner

Special Assistant, Office of the Secretary

Niki Wagner joins the Biden-Harris Administration after most recently serving as Digital Organizing Director with the 2022 New Hampshire Democratic Coordinated Campaign. Previously, she gained valuable experience working across the country to mobilize communities for candidates that include the Biden-Harris Presidential Campaign for New Hampshire & Colorado, JB Pritzker for Illinois Governor, and Scott Bennett for Illinois Senate. She graduated from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science in 2017.


Serena Walker

Confidential Assistant, Office of Communications and Outreach

Serena Walker most recently interned with the Biden-Harris campaign for the Committee for Joe, which brought together professionals to address the campaign's highest priorities. In May 2021, she will graduate from Georgetown University with a major in Psychology and minors in Spanish and Cognitive Science. She has experience in the classroom both as a Seminar Course Assistant at Georgetown University and as a volunteer Spanish-English reading tutor in a public bilingual school in Virginia. In addition, she has been involved with fundraising, working for CASA of Travis County as the Superhero Run Intern and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago as the Co-Founder and Co-President of the Children's Bridges Teen Leadership Council and as their Community Engagement Intern.


Heather Ward

Special Assistant, Office of Postsecondary Education

Heather Ward joins the U.S. Department of Education after working on Biden for President in a variety of roles culminating as the Data Director in Virginia. She has worked on other Democratic campaigns and more recently was a data analyst for NYC Health + Hospitals focused on Covid outreach. Heather served as a school director on the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District Board of Directors where she sat on the finance and legislative committees, and chaired the public information committee. She graduated from Villanova University's School of Business with a bachelor's degree in accounting and finance, and began her career as an auditor at EY.


Meghan Whittaker

Special Assistant, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

Meghan Whittaker was most recently the director of policy and advocacy at the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD). In her time at NCLD, she led a team to develop the organization's federal policy agenda and worked to protect the rights of and advance opportunities for individuals with disabilities in early childhood, K-12, and postsecondary education. Before joining NCLD, Meghan worked with incarcerated youth and as a therapist for children with academic, behavioral and emotional challenges. Meghan completed her law degree and her master's degree in social work at the Catholic University of America.


Rich Williams

Senior Advisor, Office of the Under Secretary

Rich Williams has spent his career working on college affordability, student debt, and consumer protection policies. Most recently, he helped lead an initiative at Pew Charitable Trusts working to devise policies that better support struggling student loan borrowers. Prior to his work at Pew, Williams led efforts to strengthen consumer protections for college students at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and helped craft higher education policy and strategy as the Senior Higher Education Policy Advisor for the House Committee on Education and Labor. Williams is a first-generation college graduate who received a bachelor's degree in history from Northern Arizona University after attending Coconino Community College.


Sedona Williams

Confidential Assistant, Office of the Secretary

Sedona Williams served as a Field Organizer for the One Campaign for Michigan. Prior to that, she was a political fellow on the Biden Campaign in Des Moines, Iowa. Previously based in London and Luxembourg, she worked with Democrats Abroad UK to promote absentee involvement in the 2016 elections. Furthermore, she volunteered at L'école de Sacre-Cœur in Paris, France helping students to improve their cognitive abilities through French and English. Williams holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Religion, Politics & Society from King's College London.


Valerie Williams

Director, Office of Special Education Programs, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

Valerie C. Williams spent five years as the Senior Director of Government Relations & External Affairs for the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE). In this role, she oversaw NASDSE's federal government public policy activities, federal regulatory affairs, public relations, all related external partner and stakeholder activities, and strategy pertinent to key initiatives to promote equity, and guide positive systemic change, thereby improving outcomes for students with disabilities. Prior to joining NASDSE, Mrs. Williams was selected to be the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Public Policy Fellow, and served on the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee, advancing disability policy and civil rights. Preceding her work in policy, Mrs. Williams had nearly 20 years of experience in finance and budgeting with the Department of Defense and other federal agencies, for multi-million dollar acquisition, classified, intelligence, science and R&D programs. She has held numerous board memberships in local, state, and nationwide organizations dedicated to ensuring the education, self-determination, independence and empowerment of children and adults with disabilities in all aspects of society, such as the Arc and the National Down Syndrome Congress. Mrs. Williams is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and Johns Hopkins University. She has a unique perspective, having experience on Capitol Hill, in advocacy organizations, supporting state special education leaders, and as the parent of a son with Down syndrome.


Kalila Winters

Special Assistant, Office of Legislative and Congressional Affairs

Prior to joining the Biden-Harris Administration, Kalila worked in the House of Representatives for Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE) as the Director of Operations which included managing the Congresswoman's diversity and inclusion portfolio. Prior to moving to DC at the end of 2016, Kalila served as a legislative paralegal for the City of Wilmington and various law firms, an adjunct professor and wellness advocate. She is a Delaware native and holds degrees from the University of Delaware and the Roberts School of Government at Regent University. She resides in Bowie, Maryland with her husband.


Hannah Zack

Confidential Assistant, Office for Civil Rights

Hannah Zack, a native of Boston, previously worked at Concord Prison Outreach as the manager of volunteer engagement and programming and as an executive assistant to a national disability rights advocate. She graduated with a degree in sociology from Wheaton College (MA), where she spent much of her college career advocating to make campus inclusive for disabled students.



   
Last Modified: 09/26/2022