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.


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.


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.


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.


Levi Bohanan

Special Assistant, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

Levi Bohanan previously served in the Obama administration at the U.S. Department of Education, where he worked in the Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs and the Office of the Secretary. Most recently, he served as a policy entrepreneur at Next100, a progressive public policy think tank created by the next generation of policy leaders, where he focused on early childhood education policy and P-12 education policy. He holds degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University and Texas A&M University.


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.


J. Noah Brown

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

J. Noah Brown is a widely recognized and award-winning higher education policy and governance expert, author, and educator whose experience spans more than three 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, Brown has served in many affiliated leadership capacities. He served previously on the AMHIC Reciprocal Association Board of Directors, as well as being 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, Single Stop USA Advisory Board, National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship Board of Directors, and as Ex Officio on Community Colleges for International Development Board and Council for Resource Development Board.

Brown served as a member of American Association of Community Colleges' 21st-Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges, the Washington Higher Education Secretariat, and the Committee for Education Funding. He also served as an appointee on the Steering Committee for the United States - Denmark Partnership for Vocational Education, U.S. Department of Education, and as Commissioner on the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, U.S. Department of State. 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.


Miriam Calderon

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

Miriam Calderon was appointed by Governor Kate Brown in 2017 to serve as the Early Learning System Director for the State of Oregon. She previously served in the Obama Administration advising on early learning policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Domestic Policy Council. Calderon has a diverse set of experience in the early childhood field in program, policy, and advocacy. She worked as the Senior Director for Early Childhood at the Bainum Family Foundation, as Director of Early Childhood Education at the District of Columbia Public Schools, and as Associate Director for Education Policy at the National Council of La Raza (now UnidosUS). She began her career in early childhood working in Head Start. She is a native of Washington DC, and holds degrees from the University of Delaware and Portland State University.


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.


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.


Claudia Chavez

White House Liaison, Office of the Secretary

Claudia Chavez most recently served as a member of the Education Agency Review Team for the Biden-Harris Transition and on the Biden for President campaign as Midwest Deputy Director. Prior to joining the Biden campaign, Chavez held different positions with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, including Deputy Director for Legislative Council and Government Affairs. Chavez is an Illinois native and graduate of Illinois State University.


Ben Cobley

Senior Director of Digital Strategy, Office of Communications and Outreach

Ben Cobley joins the Department of Education after serving in numerous digital roles on President Biden and Vice President Harris' Inaugural Committee and Presidential Campaign. Prior to his work for President Biden, Ben developed and implemented digital and communications strategies for candidates and causes at nearly every level. Ben holds a degree from the University of Iowa and served our country in Afghanistan as a non-commissioned officer in the First Infantry Division of the United States Army. Ben resides in Des Moines, Iowa with his wife, Danielle, and ten-year-old son, Thomas.


Deven Comen

Chief of Staff, Office of Communications and Outreach

Deven Comen is an activator and strategist with experience serving in the classroom, with federal government agencies, and across the national education landscape. Most recently, Deven led external partnerships for College Board Opportunity Scholarships, a $25M digital product that guides ~1M students annually through key college planning tasks such as completing the FAFSA. Earlier, she was the founding chief of staff for the College Board's College & Career Access division. Deven previously advised public sector clients including the Obama White House as a Deloitte consultant. Deven started her career as a special education teacher at Anacostia Senior High School in Washington, D.C. through Teach for America. A first-generation college graduate and Pell recipient, Deven holds a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University and a M.Ed. from George Mason University.


Michelle Asha Cooper, Ph.D.

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Higher Education Programs Delegated the Authority to Perform the Functions and Duties of the Assistant Secretary, Office of Postsecondary Education

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).


Una Corbett

Confidential Assistant, Office of the Secretary

Una Corbett served on the Biden-Harris transition team, working as an executive assistant to Secretary-designate Miguel Cardona and as a member of the vetting operations team. Previously, she was a field organizer with the Biden for Pennsylvania campaign. She graduated in May 2020 from Harvard, where she studied History and Literature.


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.


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.


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Seth Galanter

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs

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.


Sara Garcia

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

Sara Garcia is coming to this position from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. While there she served as a Program Officer for the North America, Policy and Finance team. She is passionate about issues of equity, and through her work aims to encourage the development of policies and practices that minimize gaps in access and success for low-income students and students of color. Prior to joining the Gates Foundation, Sara worked as a Senior Research and Advocacy Manager for the Postsecondary Education team at the Center for American Progress (CAP). Her work at CAP focused on equity issues within higher education finance as well as higher education access and success. Sara got her start in DC as a higher education fellow for Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee through the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute fellowship program. Sara was born and raised in Texas and enjoys good food, hiking, and live music (when that was still a thing). She received her master's in experimental psychology from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and her bachelor's in psychology from Boston University.


Montserrat Garibay

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.


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

Special Assistant, 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

Senior Advisor, Office of the Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development

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

Special Assistant, Office of the Secretary

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

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

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.


Juliana Herman

Chief of Staff, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development

Juliana Herman 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.


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.


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.


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

Special Assistant, 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.


Philip Kim

Deputy White House Liaison, Office of the Secretary

Philip Kim most recently served on the Domestic team for the Biden-Harris Transition and the Western Regional Deputy Director for the Biden-Harris campaign. Philip has focused on building partnerships with elected and community leaders, advocating for representation through political and electoral campaigns, and mobilizing communities of color. He is an alum of the DNCC Public Engagement team, the DNC Political and Organizing team, and Senator Booker's presidential campaign. He is also a former secondary mathematics educator and a graduate of UC Berkeley.


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.


Nick Lee

Deputy Assistant Secretary, Higher Education & Student Financial Aid, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development

Nick Lee most recently served as a senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. While at Gates he focused on supporting grantee efforts to make public K-12 and higher education funding more adequate and equitable. Prior to this role he completed his first federal government stint in civil service roles at the U.S. Department of Education and the Office of Management and Budget during the Bush-Cheney and Obama-Biden Administrations. Originally from Massachusetts, Nick is a graduate of Boston University and the George Washington University. He lives in Alexandria, VA with his wife and son.


Kelly Leon

Press 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.


Amy Loyd

Senior Advisor, Office of the Secretary

Amy Loyd, Ed.L.D., has an extensive background in education and the nonprofit sector, and has designed and led programs across the United States 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 college and career pathways that span K-12 and postsecondary education and training into the world of work; in workforce development with a lens on economic advancement; in state and federal policy; and in diversity, equity, and inclusion. She previously was the Director of Education at Cook Inlet Tribal Council, leading a network of schools and programming providing comprehensive, culturally responsive education, training, and wraparound services to the Alaska Native and Native American communities. Dr. Loyd holds a bachelor's degree from St. John's College and a doctorate in education leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she is an adjunct lecturer focused on using career pathways to increase opportunity and equity. She is a native of Chicago, Illinois.


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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, 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.


Hayley Matz Meadvin

Senior Advisor, Office of the Secretary

Hayley Matz Meadvin joins the U.S. Department of Education with broad experience that spans the public and private sectors, and a career that has focused on the intersection of public policy and communications. In the public sector, Hayley served as Chief Communications Officer for Chicago Public Schools, Communications Director in the White House for Dr. Jill Biden, and as press secretary and deputy communications director for the U.S. Small Business Administration during the Obama administration. In the private sector, Hayley was most recently a director at Precision Strategies, where she worked with national advocacy campaigns, corporate, and non-profit clients to raise awareness of key issues and effect positive change. Hayley, a graduate of Tulane University and Penn State Law, lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband, David, their two young children, and two dogs.


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.


Clare McCann

Special Assistant, Office of the Under Secretary

Clare McCann most recently worked as the Deputy Director for Federal Policy in New America's Higher Education Program, where she conducted research and analysis on a range of postsecondary issues, including data and transparency, federal financial aid, and higher education accountability. She previously served as a senior policy advisor in the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development.


Patrick McCarthy

Confidential 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.


Abel McDaniels

Special Assistant, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

Abel McDaniels most recently worked as a community school director in New York City. In that role, he designed and implemented the community school strategy in a public elementary school. Previously, he worked as a K-12 education research associate at the Center for American Progress. Abel began his career as a social studies teacher in western Massachusetts. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.


Precious McKesson

Special Assistant, OCO

Precious most recently served as the Finance Director for the Nebraska Democratic Party and was the Nebraska Political Director on the 2020 Joe Biden for President Campaign. She was also the first woman and African American to cast an electoral vote in Nebraska for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Precious McKesson is a proud graduate of Omaha Public Schools. She went on to pursue a career in the US Army receiving an Honorable Medical Discharge. Precious attended College in Birmingham, Alabama before returning to Omaha to raise her daughter. Precious is committed to ensuring everyone has access to quality education, safe clean neighborhoods, and quality housing. Precious's proudest accomplishment is being a mother to high school senior Taylor.


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

Senior Advisor to the Chief of Staff, Office of the 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

Chief of Staff Delegated the Authority to Perform the Functions and Duties of the 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.


Gypsy Moore

Senior Counsel, Office of the General Counsel

Gypsy Moore was most recently in-house legal counsel for the Center for American Progress, a nonprofit research and educational think tank, and its affiliate, the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Previously, Gypsy completed a civil rights law fellowship with the National Education Association. Prior to her fellowship, Gypsy was an associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP where her practice focused on litigation and government enforcement matters. Gypsy is a graduate of Cornell Law School and Yale University.


Julie Morgan

Senior Advisor, Office of the Under Secretary

Julie Margetta Morgan most recently served on the Biden-Harris Transition as a member of the COVID-19 response team. Prior to joining the transition, she served in a variety of economic and domestic policy roles, including Vice President of Research at the Roosevelt Institute, senior domestic policy advisor for Warren for President, and co-founder and executive director of the Great Democracy Initiative. She has more than a decade of experience in student loan oversight, regulation and policy development, including serving as senior counsel to Senator Elizabeth Warren. Julie holds a Ph.D. and J.D. from Boston College.


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.


Katherine Neas

Deputy Assistant Secretary Delegated the Authority to Perform the Functions and Duties of the 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.


Rachel Bird Niebling

Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs

Rachel Bird Niebling most recently worked at the Alliance for Excellent Education (All4Ed) as the Director of Policy Development and Federal Government Relations. Prior to joining All4Ed, she served as the Education and Healthcare Policy Advisor for Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Delaware) and before that, as a Legislative Assistant to Sen. Edward E. Kaufman (D-Delaware). Prior to her work in the Senate, Niebling was a Policy Analyst at the Strong American Schools' ED in '08 campaign, a project to raise awareness about education issues in the 2008 presidential campaign cycle. She also has served as a middle school science teacher in Philadelphia. She holds a master's degree in education policy studies from The George Washington University and a bachelor's degree in sociology and education from the University of Florida.


Sheila Nix

Chief of Staff, Office of the Secretary

Sheila Nix comes to the Department of Education after leading Tusk Philanthropies. She has nearly three decades of leadership in political, domestic policy, and innovative nonprofit operations. She recently worked on the Biden for President campaign as a senior advisor to then Sen. Kamala Harris. During the second Obama/Biden term, Nix served as the Chief of Staff to Dr. Jill Biden and as a Deputy Assistant to President Obama. In that position, she coordinated policy and communications for signature efforts serving veterans, teachers, students, and women and girls across the globe. Nix also served as Chief of Staff to then Vice President Joe Biden on the 2012 Obama/Biden campaign. She has helped develop policies on education, health care, and transportation as Deputy Governor of Illinois and as Chief of Staff to two U.S. Senators. In addition, Nix served as the U.S. Executive Director of Bono's ONE Campaign. She holds a law degree from the University of Chicago and a bachelor's degree from Creighton University.


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.


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Alex Payne

Special Assistant, 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

Special Assistant, 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.


Christian Rhodes

Chief of Staff, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

Christian Rhodes served as Chief of Staff for Prince George's County Public Schools. In this role, Rhodes supported the chief executive officer through management of specific business functions of the school system. He began his career as a political organizer for the Maryland State Teachers Association, a state affiliate of the National Education Association, and education advisor Office of the Prince George's County Executive. Rhodes has a Master of Public Administration degree from the American University in Washington, D.C., and a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


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.


Roberto Rodriquez

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.


Ian Rosenblum

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Programs Delegated the Authority to Perform the Functions and Duties of the Assistant Secretary, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

Ian Rosenblum most recently served as the founding Executive Director of the Education (Ed) Trust–New York, a statewide policy and advocacy organization committed to educational equity. Prior to leading Ed Trust–NY, Rosenblum served in the administrations of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.


Sebastian Rozo

Confidential Assistant, Office of the Under Secretary

Sebastian Rozo most recently served as the Voter Protection Recruitment Coordinator for the National Voter Assistance Hotline. He previously was the Delegate Coordinator and Field Organizer in Des Moines, IA on President Biden's campaign. Prior to joining the campaign, he worked with the field team on the New York State Coordinated campaign. Rozo holds a B.A in Political Science with honors from The State University of New York at Albany.


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.


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.


Aaliyah Samuel

Deputy Assistant Secretary for State and Local Engagement, Office of Communications and Outreach

Aaliyah Samuel, Ed.D., was most recently a senior fellow at the Center on the developing Child at Harvard University and the executive vice president of Government Affairs and Partnerships at NWEA. Aaliyah is a bilingual executive leader with expertise from early childhood through higher education. Aaliyah is a former elementary special education teacher, assistant principal, and principal. Aaliyah has informed state policy agendas, assisted with developing cross systems approaches to develop policy solutions that support children and families and leading systems-level change. Prior to NWEA, Dr. Samuel was the director of education at the National Governors Association (NGA). Aaliyah holds an undergraduate degree from Tuskegee University, a master's from University of South Florida, and a specialist and doctorate degree from NOVA Southeastern.


Jorge Santiago

Confidential 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.


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.


Lakeisha Steele

Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs

Lakeisha Steele recently served as Senior Education Policy Advisor on the House Education & Labor Committee where she led K-12 education policy for House Democrats under the leadership of Chairman Bobby Scott (VA-03). Prior to joining the Committee on Education and Labor, she served as Education Policy Advisor to U.S. Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR1). She also served as a Legislative Aide to Democratic Whip, United States Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL). She also spent eight years working in the legal industry performing risk management for law firms. She holds a bachelor's degree from Western Illinois University and a Master of Public Administration from American University. She is from Kankakee, Illinois and also hails from the beautiful city of Chicago.


Sue Swenson, Senior Advisor

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

Sue Swenson serves as a senior advisor in OSERS, an office she served during the Obama Administration.  She served the Clinton Administration in the developmental disabilities office in HHS.  She was a Kennedy fellow in the US Senate in 1996 and directed both the Kennedy Foundation and The Arc of the US. Sue believes disability inclusion requires the active inclusion of everyone. She has special interests in making data available to local stakeholders through data visualization; teaching human rights throughout systems; mining the potential of assistive, communication, and management technologies in education and policy; and cooperating internationally to achieve sustainability, especially during global crises.  She believes the American civil service is a flower of civilization and perhaps its bulwark. Sue was educated at UChicago and holds an MBA from UMN. She became a disability advocate to support her middle son Charlie as he aspired to full inclusion in his communities.


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Tiffany Taber

Managing Writer, 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 Delegated the Authority to Perform the Functions and Duties of the Assistant Secretary, Office of Communications and Outreach (serving as Acting Assistant Secretary)

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.


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.


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.


Bridget Williams

Deputy Director of Scheduling, Office of the Secretary

Bridget joined the Office of the Secretary in September of 2021 as a contractor for the Return to School Road Map Bus Tour before starting as Deputy Director of Scheduling in November. Previously, she served as an Advance Associate at the White House, traveling both domestic and foreign swings for President Biden. She found her affinity for public service when she interned for the Biden Campaign in their Financial Operations department before transferring to Scheduling and Advance. Bridget graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Global Enterprise Management and International Business from the University of Delaware in May of 2020. Bridget was raised and completed her first 13 years of education in West Hartford, Connecticut.


Rich Williams

Chief of Staff, Office of Postsecondary Education

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.


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.


Addie Zinsner

Confidential Assistant, Office for Civil Rights

Addie Zinsner joins the department after serving as Assistant to the Executive Director on the Presidential Inaugural Committee, supporting the leadership team with its work planning and promoting inaugural events. Previously, she was a Regional Organizing Director in Maricopa County for the 2020 Arizona Democratic Coordinated Campaign and is proud to have been a part of the team that flipped Arizona blue. She started her campaign work as a Field Organizer on the Biden Campaign in Iowa, Nevada, Texas, Illinois, and New York. Prior to the Biden Harris Campaign, Addie was a Virginia Governor's Fellow in the Secretariat of Administration. Addie holds a B.A. in History and Political Science from Yale University. While at Yale, Addie was named a Yale Women in Government Fellow and is a graduate of the Women's Campaign School at Yale.



   
Last Modified: 11/19/2021