Among the first White House senior officials to be publicly announced by President-elect Joe Biden are three Latinos who previously served in the Obama administration and have now been asked to return to a new White House in roles including chief of staff to Jill Biden.
NBC News reports that both Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon and Anthony Bernal will return to the Biden administration to work for the future first lady as chief of staff and senior adviser, respectively. Julie Chávez Rodríguez, who also worked on Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign, will return as director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.
The selections have been praised by Latino and immigrant rights advocates. Chávez Rodríguez is the granddaughter of civil and labor rights icon César Chávez and “brings a wealth of political experience that was forged, first and foremost, as an organizer,” Newsweek reported.
”By age 10, she was handing out union leaflets and had been detained at a boycott,” the report continued. “In her previous White House role as deputy director of public engagement, senior policy adviser and special assistant to President Barack Obama, she helped develop support for his immigration agenda, including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. She also oversaw engagement with immigrant, Muslim, Latino, and Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, as well as veterans, LGBTQ, education, labor and progressive groups.”
Jill Biden said according to NBC News that in selecting Reynoso Pantaleon for chief of staff, “it was important to find someone with deep experience and an understanding of government. I wanted someone with heart and a passion for public service I found all of that and more in Julissa—an accomplished diplomat, legal expert, and strategist. We are living through an unparalleled time of uncertainty, but I know that, with her leadership in my office, we will be able to make a difference for so many Americans.”
These early appointments are a hopeful signal that the incoming administration, unlike the one that will soon leave office, is taking to heart the need to have a White House that’s truly representative of the people. “America faces great challenges,” the president-elect said in a statement according to AL DÍA News, “and they bring diverse perspectives and a shared commitment to tackling these challenges and emerging on the other side a stronger, more united nation.”
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