U.S. Department of Education Appointments Since January 2021
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.
Press Secretary, Higher Ed, Office of Communications and Outreach
Johanny Adames most recently served as Communications Director and Senior Advisor at Latino Victory Project. Prior to that position, she was a national spokesperson and the associate director of Latino communications at Planned Parenthood. Johanny held several positions at GMMB, an issue-advocacy and communications strategy firm, focusing on K-12 education and crisis management. Johanny began her strategic communications career as an intern in the White House Office of Communications during the Obama-Biden Administration.
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
Chief of Staff, Office of Legislation and Congressional Affair
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.
Special Advisor to the Chief of Staff, Office of the Secretary
Naseam previously served as a Director in the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Partnership and Engagement where she was responsible for engaging the private sector across various DHS priorities, including combating child exploitation and abuse online, human trafficking, forced labor, and immigration issues. Prior to returning to federal service, Naseam served in various roles at the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, including as Executive Officer for Legislative and External Affairs and as a Program Manager in the Mayor's Office of International Affairs. During the Obama Administration, Naseam served as Special Assistant to First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and was responsible for supporting Dr. Biden's policy priorities around education and military families. Naseam holds a Master’s in Sociology and Human Rights from the London School of Economics and a Bachelor’s in Political Science from UCLA. She is a first-generation Iranian-American, a southern California native, and the proud product of community college.
Sam Ames, Chief of Staff, Office for Civil Rights
Sam Ames (they/he) is a civil rights attorney and author with over 15 years of experience fighting for LGBTQ rights and mental health. Most recently, they worked as Director of Advocacy & Government Affairs for The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth. Prior to that, they served as the Interim Executive Director of both Trans Lifeline and Our Family Coalition, a staff attorney at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, founder of the Born Perfect Campaign to End Conversion Therapy, and a hospital chaplain at UCSF Medical Center. Sam holds a Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard University, with a focus on Religion, Ethics, and Politics; a J.D. from George Washington University Law School; and a B.A. in Psychology and Theatre Arts from the University of California Santa Cruz. They are a proud Californian and a five-time AIDS LifeCycle rider.
Deputy Chief of Staff, 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.
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.
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.
Special Assistant, Office of Communication and Outreach
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.
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.
Deputy Director, White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Deputy Secretary
Ramón was most recently the education and labor legislative assistant for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Prior to working in the Senate, he worked on K-12 policy for the House Committee on Education and Labor under Chairman Bobby Scott. Ramón began his career as a 7th grade science teacher and baseball coach in his hometown of Phoenix, Arizona. He then expanded his career into education policy and advocacy as a community organizer working with parent leaders who passionately advocated for equitable education for underserved students of color. He holds a B.A. in biology from Gonzaga University, and a M.A. in Sociology and Education from Teachers College at Columbia University. Ramón is the proud son of Mexican immigrant parents.
Senior Advisor, Office of English Language Acquisition
Dr. Melissa Castillo has over 28 years of experience in education. She previously served as the Associate Superintendent of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for the Arizona Department of Education, responsible for advancing educational opportunities and outcomes for diverse student populations. Dr. Castillo's professional career includes elementary teacher in dual language and bilingual programs, instructional coach, site and district administrator and educational consultant. Dr. Castillo co-authored the book Language and Literacy for ELLs; Creating Systematic Change for Academic Achievement and contributing author to 99 Ideas and Activities for Teaching English Learners with the SIOP®Model. Dr. Castillo continues to work with educators and leaders across the country on planning and implementing asset-based systems, programs, and instructional practices to meet the needs of diverse learners.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Director, Rural Engagement, Office of Communications and Outreach
Most recently, Julia was the Deputy Director for State Engagement for The Hunt Institute. In this role, she primarily focused on overseeing relationship building, strategy, and program development in support of The Institute’s expansion into new states through the state legislators retreat model. Prior to joining The Hunt Institute, Julia was a fifth – eighth grade Writing teacher at American Horse School in the Oglala Lakota Nation in southwestern South Dakota. After teaching, she earned her Master’s in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2018, where she co-founded the Harvard Ed School Rural Educators Alliance. Julia earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Fordham University in 2013.
Daniel Dela Cruz
Confidential Assistant, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
Daniel Dela Cruz joins the Biden Harris Administration following his role on Senator Mark Kelly’s re-election campaign. Prior to that, Daniel supported Democratic campaigns across the country with his work for the Democratic National Committee, the Biden-Harris campaign, and various federal and state level campaigns in Missouri. Raised as an Army brat, he was fortunate to call many cities and states home. Daniel graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis.
Digital Director, Office of Communications and Outreach
Chelsea Daley most recently served as the Digital Media Director for the Joint Economic Committee in the United States Senate. Prior to working on the Hill, Chelsea served in the Biden-Harris Administration as the Digital Director for the Department of Homeland Security where she oversaw all branding and digital messaging for year one of the Administration. Chelsea worked on social media projects ranging from awareness around the resettlement of vulnerable Afghans to managing crisis communications for natural disasters and cyber security threats. During the 2020 election cycle, she worked as a Digital Communities Director on the Biden-Harris campaign in her home state of Florida. Chelsea has an extensive background and passion for building successful digital programs for campaigns and government. She has a Masters degree in Political Management from the George Washington University and a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of Central Florida.
Confidential Assistant, White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Office of the Secretary
Salome Daniel is a recent graduate of Howard University's School of Business. She has interned with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation where she assessed business processes, presented research, and drafted affordable housing policy. Most recently, she has served as a payroll specialist in the Newark Youth One Stop Career Center in New Jersey. There she engaged the city's youth via casework correspondence and processed regular payroll.
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.
Special Assistant, Family Outreach, Office of Communications and Outreach
Prior to joining the Biden-Harris administration, Cecily's Rooted Learning supported organizations to implement equitable community engagement and systems change for sustainable growth. Previously, she led measurement with Flamboyan Foundation, where she supported the identification and dissemination of effective family engagement strategies and innovations. Cecily also served the students of Prince George's County Public Schools for nearly a decade where she led the human capital strategic initiatives after several years supporting student-focused measurement of district initiatives. Cecily's prior work experience also includes adjunct faculty and educational research positions with American University, University of Maryland, College Park and the American Institute for Research. And her volunteer passion has been serving the children of Montgomery County, MD where she is raising two sons. A proud undergraduate alumna of Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, Cecily's graduate studies were in Sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park.
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.
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.
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.
Confidential Assistant, Office of the Secretary
Troi Dixon joins the Biden-Harris Administration after serving as a Legislative Intern for the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. She is native to North Carolina, moving to D.C after being a dual-enrolled graduate of Johnston County Early College Academy and Johnston Community College. With a Bachelor's in Political Science from Old Dominion University, she created social welfare programs as an executive board member of Model United Nations. After graduating, she served as a Field Organizer with the North Carolina Coordinated Campaign and as a Regional Service Lead for the Presidential Inaugural Committee. She recently graduated with a Master's in Public Policy from George Mason University where she was an Executive Vice President of Arlington Campus for the Graduate and Professional Student Association, ambassador for her college, and Graduate Professional Assistant. Troi's mantra is, growing through what you go through, as she seeks to serve those who need activism the most.
Chief of Staff, Office of the Deputy Secretary
Jillian most recently served as the Chief of Staff to the Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which oversees the management and implementation of over 100 international exchange programs. She has spent her 15+ years in the government and nonprofit sector focused on public engagement, strategic operations and planning, and stakeholder management. Jillian served in the Obama Biden Administration both at the White House in the Office of the Vice President and the Department of Commerce. She also worked for Michelle Obama's voting rights organization, When We All Vote, and at Child Care Aware of America, a nonprofit focused on advocating for quality and affordable child care and early education. Jillian received her master's in strategic public relations from the George Washington University and her bachelor's degree from the University of Delaware. She resides in Washington, D.C.
Director of Scheduling, Office of the Secretary
Madeline Douglas joins the Biden-Harris administration after 4 years of scheduling for U.S. Representatives serving Colorado, Iowa and Pennsylvania. Prior to her Hill experience, she worked as a finance assistant on a Congressional campaign. Previously, she did a year of service as a literacy tutor in Alexandria, VA under the Americorps-funded organization The Literacy Lab. Douglas also served two years on the Executive Board of the Women’s Congressional Staff Association. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from William Jewell College with a major in Music and a minor in Communications.
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.
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.
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.
Senior Advisor, Office of Postsecondary Education
Jennifer most recently served as the founding Director of the U.S. Program Data team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she also previously served as Deputy Director on the Postsecondary Success team. A national expert and leader in the field, Jennifer has focused on improving college access, affordability, completion, and value for underserved students throughout her career. Her professional passion comes from her personal experience as the first in her family to go to college. As a researcher and advocate, Jennifer has focused on using data and evidence to call attention to and close equity disparities in education. At the Pell Institute, she led research studies to identify barriers to college access and completion experienced by low-income, first-generation college students as well as effective support to help them succeed. At the Education Trust, she managed the College Results Online web tool and led data collection, analysis, and use for postsecondary leaders in the Access to Success Initiative. At the Institute for Higher Education Policy, she launched the Postsecondary Data Collaborative, a coalition that works to improve the quality of national data systems so they reflect the experiences of today’s diverse students. Jennifer received her M.A. and Ph.D. in education from American University and lives and works in Washington, D.C.
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.
Director, Scheduling and Advance, 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.
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.
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.
Jessica Bowen Gall
Special Assistant, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development
Jessica Bowen Gall was most recently a Professional Staff Member for the House Committee on Education and Labor under the leadership of Chairman Bobby Scott. Prior to this role, she led the education portfolio for Representative Suzanne Bonamici and previously held positions at the Postsecondary National Policy Institute, Data Quality Campaign, and the office of Senator Michael Bennet. Before entering education policy, Jessica was a high school teacher and adjunct professor. She holds a bachelor’s from Wesleyan University and a master’s from Georgetown University.
Assistant Secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
Glenna Gallo is the assistant secretary in the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the United States Department of Education. In this capacity, she serves as advisor to the U.S. secretary of education on matters related to the education of children and youth with disabilities, as well as employment and community living for youth and adults with disabilities. The mission of her office is to improve early childhood, educational, and employment outcomes, and to raise expectations for all people with disabilities, their families, their communities, and the nation. Gallo has more than 25 years of experience supporting students and adults with disabilities. She served as the assistant superintendent of special education in the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington from 2017-2022 and previously as the state director of special education for the Utah State Board of Education for seven years. In her state-level education leadership roles, Gallo provided expertise in the improvement planning, data analysis, and monitoring of public pre-K through 12th grade+ special education programs. Before her state-level education leadership roles, Gallo worked as a classroom teacher and administrator. Gallo has a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in special education; special education teacher and administrative licenses; endorsements as a program administrator, principal, and superintendent; and a Master of Business Administration.
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.
Assistant Deputy Secretary and Director, Office of English Language Acquisition
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.
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.
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.
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.
Policy Advisor, 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.
Special 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.
Traveling 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.
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.
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.
Executive Director, White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans, Office of the Secretary
Alexis K. Holmes is the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans, housed within the U.S. Department of Education. As the first woman and mom to lead the initiative, Mrs. Holmes brings more than 25 years of experience in government, public affairs, and public policy to proactively engage the black community on key priorities such as early childhood education, teacher diversity, black family voices, STEM access, and equitable distribution of federal resources. With an updated focus on equity and economic opportunity, the initiative, under her leadership, works collaboratively with more than two dozen interagency partners and national black organizations to coordinate and increase opportunities for black students, families, and communities. Prior to joining the Biden-Harris Administration, Mrs. Holmes was policy manager in the National Education Association's (NEA) Education Policy and Implementation Center. In this role, she advocated and advanced policies to support public education and working families at the national, state, and local level. Following the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act, Mrs. Holmes was instrumental in coordinating educators across the country to actively engage their state and local policymakers in order to take advantage of the Act's historic resource allocation. Previously, she was responsible for a policy portfolio that included secondary schools, career and technical education, and family engagement. Joining the NEA in 2007, Mrs. Homes was part of the inaugural team that led the organization's national outreach and engagement of the Black community. Before joining the NEA, Mrs. Holmes was Director of Federal Relations at College Board, where she worked closely with educators, institutions, community advocates, and civil rights allies to advance policies that supported every student's postsecondary aspiration, preparation, and success. Mrs. Holmes is a graduate of West Virginia University's School of Journalism with a focus on public relations and political science. She and her husband reside in Virginia, and are proud parents of a college freshman, high school junior, and spirited Belgian Malinois.
Special Assistant, Office of the Under SecretaryJack 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.
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Communications and Outreach
Shin Inouye most recently served as the Executive Vice President of Communications at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights/The Leadership Conference Education Fund. He previously served for eight years in the Obama-Biden Administration at the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and in the White House Office of Communications. Inouye was also a spokesperson for the Obama-Biden Presidential Inaugural Committee and the Obama for America campaign. His other work experiences include the office of Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-8) and the Washington Legislative Office of the American Civil Liberties Union. He graduated with departmental honors from the Johns Hopkins University, with a degree in political science.
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.
Deputy Director, White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity Through Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Naeem Jenkins-Nixon joins the Biden-Harris Administration after most recently serving as the Deputy Director of the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware. Naeem worked in the administration of Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown for six years as a communications specialist and later confidential aide to the Mayor. In 2017, Naeem was the campaign manager for Mayor Brown's successful re-election and served as an informal advisor on his 2021 general election campaign. Naeem has also held senior leadership roles as the managing political director for the Missouri Democratic Party and deputy chief of staff to the Mayor of Augusta, Georgia. Born and raised in Buffalo, New York, Naeem graduated from Hampton University with a degree in Journalism and Communications.
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.
Kathryn "Katy" Joseph
Deputy Director, Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Office of the Secretary
Katy Joseph most recently served as the Director of Policy & Advocacy at Interfaith Alliance, where she directed legislative, regulatory, and legal initiatives to advance an inclusive vision of religious freedom. In this role she led national faith-based coalitions for LGBTQ+ rights, religious equality, and robust public education. Earlier in her career, she supported the Haitian Ministry of Education and community schools in developing longterm mental health support services for students displaced by the 2010 earthquake. She holds a BA in Anthropology from Reed College and a JD from the City University of New York School of Law.
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.
Chief of Staff, 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.
Chief of Staff, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development
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.
James Kvaal was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the Under Secretary of Education on September 14, 2021. Kvaal leads the Department’s work on higher education, student financial aid, and career and adult education. He works to build an inclusive higher education system that helps all students graduate and go on to a better life. His work has led to millions of borrowers receiving student loan forgiveness, more affordable repayment plans for future students, and stronger safeguards against future unaffordable loans.
Earlier in his career, Kvaal served in the White House under President Clinton and President Obama, including more than three years as deputy domestic policy adviser to President Obama. He was the policy director on President Obama’s 2012 campaign, a co-chair of the Biden-Harris campaign’s education advisory committee, and the deputy lead of President Biden’s Department of Education transition team.
Kvaal has also served as Deputy Under Secretary at the Department of Education and as a professional staff member in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Immediately prior to joining the Biden Administration, Kvaal was president of The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), a research and advocacy nonprofit dedicated to affordability and equity in higher education.
Kvaal taught at the University of Michigan's Ford School of Public Policy, and he graduated with honors from Stanford University and Harvard Law School.
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.
Policy Advisor, 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.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
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.
Special Assistant, Advance, Office of the Secretary
Eduardo Levi most recently served as a White House Advance Associate, where he assisted in preparing White House principal visits to locations ranging from Latin America to Sub-Saharan Africa. Previously, he interned in the Biden-Harris White House, serving as an intern in the Office of the First Lady. During his college career, he interned in the Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray, the MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the Dell Medical School. Eduardo holds a Bachelors of Science and Arts in Biology Honors from the University of Texas at Austin where he graduated in 2022. Eduardo was born in Mexico City, Mexico and was raised in Round Rock, Texas.
Senior Advisor, Office of the Secretary
Rachel Levitan comes to the Department of Education after years of policy and strategic communications experience on Capitol Hill and political campaigns. She most recently served as the Director of Communications for Senator Carper (D-Delaware) and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. In this role, she helped lead press strategy for Senate Democrats for the negotiations and passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act. Previously, Rachel worked as the Deputy Director of Communications and a top advisor for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. She was a communications aide on the House impeachment inquiry and Senate trial regarding former President Donald Trump's conduct with Ukraine. She also previously worked as a legislative assistant for former Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA) and a research assistant for the RAND Corporation.
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.
Deputy Director, White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics, Office of the Secretary
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.
Press Secretary, Oversight, Office of Communications and Outreach
Roy Loewenstein joins the Department of Education following years of strategic communications experience in both chambers of Congress and political campaign experience. Most recently, he served as Deputy Communications Director for Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.), as well as Acting Communications Director during Senate and House passage of Sen. Tester's bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Previously, Roy served as Communications Director for the Montana Democratic Party during the 2018 midterm elections, Communications Director for the Montana House of Representatives Democratic Caucus, Press Secretary for Congresswoman Nita Lowey (DNY17), and as a field organizer for the Nevada Democratic Party.
Senior Advisor, Innovation, Office of the Deputy Secretary
Monica Logothetis is a creative education entrepreneur dedicated to finding scalable solutions to help close the career opportunity gap in America. Logothetis formerly served as Co-Founder & Chairwoman of DreamWakers, a national education technology nonprofit that connects 4th-12th grade students at rural and systemically under-resourced schools with professional role models from diverse backgrounds. Her recent research explores how community colleges can be catalysts for criminal justice reform. Logothetis earned her BA and MPP from the University of Virginia.
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.
Senior Advisor, Office of Communications and Outreach
Kamau Marshall joins the U.S Department of Education after most recently serving as the Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Media and Public Affairs. He has previously served as a Spokesperson and Senior Advisor for outreach and communications to the CEO and Co-Chairs for the 59th Presidential Inaugural Committee. Kamau was the Director of Strategic Communications for the 2020 Biden presidential campaign. Before joining the Biden campaign, he worked for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and as Communications Director to Congressman Al Green. Kamau previously served in the Obama-Biden Administration as the Communications Advisor and Speechwriter at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A native of many cities and states, he considers Atlanta and Columbus, Georgia home. Kamau is a graduate of Texas Southern University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a Masters in Public Administration, focusing on Economics, Policy, and International Affairs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Confidential Assistant, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development
Eliza joins the Department of Education as a Confidential Assistant in the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development. She most recently worked as an intern at O'Neill and Associates, a Boston-based government relations firm. She also held an internship in Senator Elizabeth Warren's Boston office. Eliza graduated from the University of Richmond in May 2022 with a bachelor's degree in Leadership Studies and Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law (PPEL) with a concentration in politics.
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.
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.
Special Assistant, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
Sarah Mehrotra joins the Department of Education from the DC Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE), where she served as a Special Assistant for Federal Programs and Strategic Funding. Previously, Sarah was a Senior Data and Policy Analyst at The Education Trust, where she led the organization's assessment, accountability, and educator portfolios. While at Ed Trust, Sarah partnered with districts, states, and advocacy organizations across the country to support efforts to address unfinished learning and advance educational equity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sarah has conducted extensive research in elementary and secondary education and has authored novel research like Improving Low-Performing Schools: A Meta-Analysis of Impact Evaluation Studies. Sarah's research experience includes serving as Deputy Project Manager of Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Appalachia with SRI International. Sarah holds a B.A. in neuroscience from Hamilton College, a Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and previously served as a Fulbright teaching fellow in Malaysia.
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.
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.
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
Naomi Miguel, Ba’ag Nei’dam O’ks (Eagle Singing Woman), most recently served as the Staff Director for the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States on the House Committee on Natural Resources at the United States House of Representatives. As Staff Director she led an all-Native women staff, and implemented the Chair’s legislative priorities for Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians including examining the policies and priorities of Indian education. Prior to this position, Ms. Miguel served as the legislative assistant for Representative Raúl M. Grijalva where she helped co-found the Congressional Native American Staff Association and hosted roundtable discussions about the important of diversity and inclusion of Native American staffers in Congress. She is also an alumnus of the Udall Foundation’s Native American Congressional Intern program. She also with American University’s former Washington Internships for Native Student’s program where she interned with the tribal liaison at the Federal Communications Commission and the Office of Inspector General at the National Science Foundation. Following college, she worked as a field organizer for Arizona’s Coordinated and Congressional District One campaigns. Ms. Miguel previously worked as Assistant Program Specialist at the Tribal Law and Policy Institute and served four years as a Board Member and Board Secretary for Pukúu, a non-profit organization for Native Americans in Los Angeles County. She received her Master's in Public Administration and Policy degree from American University in Washington, D.C, and her undergraduate degree in political science with minors in pre-law and art from Mount St. Mary’s University, an all-women’s college in Los Angeles, CA. Ms. Miguel received an outstanding alumnus ‘rising star’ award from Mount St. Mary’s University’s Alumni Association and she’s a recipient of the National Center’s 2021 Native Americans 40 under 40 award. She is a proud rez kid from the Chui-Chu village on the Tohono O’odham Nation located in southern Arizona. She enjoys hiking, drawing, spending time with her family & friends, and playing her alto-saxophone.
Amanda Fuchs Miller
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Higher Education Programs, Office of Postsecondary Education
Amanda Fuchs Miller has more than three decades of experience working inside and outside of government. She most recently worked in the U.S. Senate, where she has held several senior roles throughout her career. Previously, she served as President of Seventh Street Strategies, where she consulted for education non-profits and foundations to provide advocacy, policy and communications support. Before that, she served as Vice President of Government Affairs at Teach For America. Amanda worked in the Obama Administration at the U.S. Department of Justice, and in the Clinton Administration in the Office of Presidential Personnel. After graduating from college, she spent seven years working as the research and policy director on Senate campaigns and at Democratic political organizations. Amanda serves as an Adjunct Professor at American University, where she has taught advocacy and education policy courses, and has taught courses at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and at The Biden Institute at the University of Delaware. She graduated with a joint degree from Northwestern University School of Law (J.D.) and Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government (MPA), and has her B.A./B.S. from Boston University in Political Science and Journalism.
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.
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.
Deputy 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.
Special Assistant, Office of the Secretary
Chase Moore earned his Master's in the Educational Policy and Planning Program at The University of Texas in May 2021. He played Football for The Texas Longhorns, became subject of a ESPN-Longhorn Network Feature Story, and received his Bachelors in Sociology in 2019. Chase joins the Biden-Harris Administration after being a 2022 CBCF Fellow for Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson and the Department’s Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development. Prior to that position, Chase worked as a Staff Assistant for Senator Patty Murray in 2021 (D-WA), former Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. After growing up around Compton & South Central, Los Angeles, California, this LAUSD product’s goal is to dismantle the School-To-Prison Pipeline to ultimately shift paths for inner-city youth who grew up in impoverished environments from prison to college. Chase is also interested in helping Black student-athletes bolster holistic identities through the Black Student-Athlete Summit, performing spoken word on pertinent issues relevant to his community, and engaging in global leadership and travel.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Senior Advisor, Labor Relations, Office of the Secretary
Maralyn O'Brien joins the Biden-Harris Administration after serving as Federal Affairs Director at MoveOn, supporting several historic bills in the 117th Congress, including the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, and advocacy for student debt cancellation. Previously, Maralyn was a change agent as a Regional Director for the National Education Association, notably partnering with state and local affiliates across the Mid-Atlantic and northeast through the COVID-19 pandemic. She has held leadership positions with the United Service Organizations, Marine Corps Community Services, and the Service Employees International Union. She holds a Master of Urban Planning degree from Wayne State University and a degree from Albion College, recently completing two terms on Albion's Alumni Board. Maralyn has resided in Michigan, Japan, and Rhode Island. She and her husband, a veteran and career civil servant, call Virgina home with their two French Bulldogs.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Deputy Director of Scheduling, Office of the Secretary
Kayla Ratnasamy most recently served on NASA's political appointee team as the Special Assistant to Administrator Bill Nelson. Before joining NASA, she was a legal assistant at Weil, Snyder, and Ravindran P.A. in Miami, Florida. Her political experience began as a legislative affairs intern in Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried's office in 2020. She graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in Political Science and a minor in Voice Performance in 2021. In her spare time, she loves to travel, sing, and go on long walks around the DMV.
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.
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.
Senior Counsel, Oversight, Office of the General Counsel
Matt Robinson most recently served as a senior counsel at the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. He previously worked as a counsel in the Strategic Response group at WilmerHale, where his practice focused on crisis management assistance, government investigations, and civil litigation. Prior to that, he served as a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. Matt is a graduate of NYU School of Law and Yale University.
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs
Blanchi Roblero is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for K-12 at the Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs (OLCA). She recently served as Chief of Staff in OLCA, where she advised the Assistant Secretary on all agency matters, particularly with regards to operations, congressional oversight, Hill strategy, legislative outreach, and nominations. Blanchi has over a decade of federal policy and management experience. During her previous tenure at the Department, 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. Blanchi holds a bachelor's degree in Economics and Sociology from the Hunter College (CUNY) and earned a Master of Educational Leadership, Politics and Advocacy from New York University.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Policy Advisor, Office of the Under Secretary
Dr. Jenna Sablan has over a decade of experience across sectors in education policy. She has worked as a faculty and staff member at higher education institutions, as an education policy fellow in the Senate Budget Committee, and in higher education nonprofits. Dr. Sablan received her PhD in urban education policy and MA in economics from University of Southern California, and her BA in political science and social policy from American University, where she was a Ronald E. McNair Scholar.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Special 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.
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.
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.
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.
Policy Advisor, Office of Postsecondary Education
Lindsey Tepe joins the Biden-Harris Administration after most recently serving as assistant vice president for governmental affairs at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, where she conducted research and advocacy in support of public higher education. Before joining APLU, Lindsey served as a fellow with the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray’s staff. Prior to working on Capitol Hill, Lindsey served as a senior policy analyst with the education policy program at New America, where she researched and wrote on a range of policy issues spanning PreK-12 and Higher Education. She began her career in the classroom, teaching elementary students in Chicago Public Schools. Lindsey holds a Master of Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching from Dominican University. She attended Arizona State University for undergraduate studies, earning a Bachelor of Science in Economics.
Senior Advisor, Office of 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 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.
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.
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.
Senior Advisor, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development
Maureen Tracey-Mooney most recently served as Special Assistant to the President for Education at the White House Domestic Policy Council, and as Senior Advisor on the Biden-Harris transition. In these roles, she developed the American Rescue Plan's Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund provisions, in direct collaboration with Congress, and served as the President's policy lead for K-12 education, managing and driving the President's K-12 agenda for the White House across the Administration, in coordination with senior leadership at the Department. After serving serving on President Obama's primary and general election campaigns and the Obama-Biden transition, she served at the U.S. Department of Labor, and as then-Vice President Biden's Deputy Domestic Policy Advisor, working on education, labor and other issues. She has worked in local public education in Newark (NJ) and Brooklyn (NY). She is a graduate of the University of Chicago and Princeton University. Her life is possible because a generous friend gave her a kidney.
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.
Confidential Assistant, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
Alex Turney most recently served as a staff assistant with the Office of Congressman Al Lawson Jr., where he engaged with constituents and researched legislative priorities. He also has previous experience with the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute and The Carter Center. Alex is a Georgia native, and he holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Virginia.
Policy Advisor, 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.
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs
Claire Viall is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Higher Education at the Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs. She has a decade of Congressional experience working for multiple Members of Congress in the House of Representatives. Prior to joining the Department, she was a Senior Education Policy Advisor for the House Committee on Education and Labor under the leadership of Chairman Scott. While on the Committee, she led strategy for the higher education team and negotiated multiple pieces of legislation including provisions in the American Rescue Plan Act, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, and the CARES Act. Previously, Claire was a Senior Legislative Assistant for Congressman Mark Takano where she managed a legislative portfolio that included education and veteran issues. While working for Rep. Takano she was the lead staffer for the Bipartisan Congressional Deaf Caucus. Prior to working for Rep. Takano, she was a Legislative Correspondent for Rep. Paul Tonko and a Program Assistant at the International Center for Research on Women. Claire holds a bachelor's degree in history from the University of California, Berkeley and earned a Master of Public Policy degree from the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at The George Washington University.
Confidential Assistant, Office of the Under Secretary
Carlos Vivaldi joins the Biden-Harris Administration after serving as Director of Scheduling for Congressman Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) in the U.S. House of Representatives. Carlos started his public service career as a legislative intern for the leadership office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico and completed his bachelor's degree in Government and International Politics with a minor in Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. His professional experience also includes research assistance and sports management., Carlos is a member of the oldest Latino fraternity in existence, Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Special Assistant, Office of the SecretaryNiki 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.
Deputy Assistant Secretary 1 (P-12 Education), Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development
Dr. Mary C. Wall most recently served as Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor on the White House COVID-19 Response Team. She joined the team at the beginning of the Biden-Harris Administration to lead the work on school reopening and a safe return to in-person instruction in K-12, early care and education, and higher education, and transitioned in 2022 to lead as Chief of Staff for the Federal COVID-19 Response, coordinating across U.S. Government agencies on COVID-19 treatments, vaccines, and testing. Prior to her work at the White House, Mary served as Chief of Staff for the New York City Department of Education, leading school reopening efforts across 1,600 public schools as well as a variety of new instructional and operational initiatives in the largest school district in the nation. She has also worked as director of instructional strategy for Boston Public Schools, and served in the Obama-Biden Administration as Senior Policy Advisor on higher education at the U.S. Department of Education and Education Policy Advisor at the White House Domestic Policy Council. Mary grew up outside of Boston, and earned her bachelor’s in Political Science and Spanish at Boston College, as well as her doctorate in Education Leadership at Harvard University.
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.
Special Assistant, Office of the Under Secretary
Wesley Whistle has dedicated his career to improving quality and equity in higher education. Wesley recently served as the principal advisor to U.S. Senator Bob Casey on all education policy issues. He previously worked at New America and Third Way focused on higher education accountability, affordability, and student success policy. Prior to moving to our Nation's Capitol, we was a higher education administrator at colleges and universities in Kentucky, working on accreditation, federal and state data reporting and analysis, and assessment, and served in various roles in Kentucky state government. Wesley earned his Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in education policy from the University of Kentucky and his bachelor’s in political science from Kentucky Wesleyan College. He is also a PhD candidate in higher education at the University of Kentucky. His work is informed by his personal experience as a Pell Grant recipient and first-generation college graduate.
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.
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.
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.
Special Advisor, Office of the Secretary
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.
Executive Assistant/Executive Office Manager, Office of the Secretary
Fabiola Yanez joins the U.S Department of Education as Executive Assistant/Executive Office Manager. Previously, she served as Administrative Assistant at the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), where she worked with Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) and federal stakeholders to place Latino/Latina students in federal internships. Prior to HACU, she was a fellow at the Institute of Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University.
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.