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Rajiv Shah's nomination as USAID chief confirmed
IANS Washington, December 25, 2009
This photo provided by the State Department shows Rajiv Shah. He will now run America's top foreign assistance program, the U.S. Agency for International Development, (USAID). Photo: AP
The United States Senate has approved the nomination of Rajiv Shah to head the US Agency for International Development (USAID), making him the highest ranking Indian American in the Obama administration.
The Senate unanimously Thursday confirmed the nomination of Shah, 36, and some three dozen other officials nominated by President Barack Obama before taking its Christmas break.
Shah’s confirmation puts him at the helm of the aid agency charged with spurring development around the world. USAID is expected to play a key role as the Obama administration has made development a key tool of its foreign policy.
Mr. Shah “brings fresh ideas and the dedication and impressive background necessary to help guide USAID as it works to achieve this important goal,” said Mr. Obama in a statement announcing his nomination in November. “I look forward to working with Rajiv in the months and years ahead.”
The mission of USAID is to advance America’s interests by strengthening our relationships abroad,” he said of the agency, which has more than 6,800 people working in some 80 countries worldwide.
USAID, formally part of the State Department, manages the bulk of US international aid with a budget of some 53.9 billion dollars for 2010, up nine percent over 2009.
Mr. Shah, a medical doctor, currently serves as chief scientist for the US Department of Agriculture and previously worked as director for agricultural development at the foundation headed by Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates and his wife.
By nominating Mr. Shah to lead the USAID, Mr. Obama has reaffirmed that development must be a core pillar of American foreign policy, said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcoming Shah’s nomination.
“Mr. Raj will bring an impressive record of accomplishment and a deep understanding of what works in development to his role as USAID Administrator,” she said. “I look forward to working closely with him to advance the President’s agenda and to elevate and integrate development in our foreign policy.”
Having championed Mr. Obama’s global food security initiative, Mr. Shah is “a leader in the development community, an innovative and results-oriented manager, and someone who understands the importance of providing people around the world with the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty and chart their own destinies,” she said.
“A trained medical doctor and health economist, Mr. Raj has the skills and experience to lead a reinvigorated USAID in the 21st century,” Mrs. Clinton said.
“He has led and worked with many of the initiatives that are defining best practice in the field of development.”
He has a record of “delivering results in both the private and public sectors, forging partnerships around the world, especially in Africa and Asia,” she added.
Prior to his work at the Gates foundation, Mr. Shah worked on health care policy for the 2000 presidential campaign of former vice president Al Gore.
He is a co-founder of Health Systems Analytics and Project IMPACT for South Asian Americans. In addition, he has served as a policy aide in the British Parliament and worked at the World Health Organization.
Mr. Shah earned his MD from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and his Master of Science in health economics at the Wharton School of Business. He has attended the London School of Economics and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.
Berkeley Lab’s Arun Majumdar has been nominated to head the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.
Berkeley, CA — The White House announced its intention to nominate Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California, Berkeley engineer and scientist Arun Majumdar to become the first director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
ARPA-E’s goals are to create technologies that have the potential to reduce the nation’s reliance on foreign energy supplies, reduce energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, and improve energy efficiency. It focuses on high-risk, high-payoff technologies that promise to transform the energy landscape.
Majumdar’s nomination must undergo Senate confirmation.
A mechanical engineer and materials scientist, Majumdar’s wide-ranging expertise spans energy efficiency technology research and implementation in the U.S. and abroad, as well as materials science innovations such as using nanotechnology to harness the energy lost as heat during the production of electricity.
He views the nomination as an honor and a call to duty.
”It is a rare privilege and an honor when the President asks you to serve the nation in such a capacity,” says Majumdar. “I came to this country as an immigrant and am deeply appreciative and indebted to this nation for opening the doors and welcoming me with open arms. I have received so much. This is my way of stepping up and paying back.”
Adds Interim Berkeley Lab Director Paul Alivisatos, “I am very excited and pleased that a scientist of Arun Majumdar’s distinction and caliber has been nominated by the President to serve as the head of ARPA-E. Arun’s leadership and energy at Berkeley Lab’s Energy and Environmental Technologies Division has been exemplary, and he will be greatly missed.”
Majumdar took the helm of Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division in 2007. The division conducts research in advanced energy technologies, atmospheric sciences, energy-efficient building technologies, energy analysis, and indoor environmental quality. Majumdar has also served as Berkeley Lab’s Associate Laboratory Director for Energy and Environmental Sciences since February 2009.
He has been a member of the University of California, Berkeley faculty since 1997, where he holds the Almy and Agnes Maynard Chair Professorship in the College of Engineering.
While serving as head of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division, Majumdar further cemented the Lab’s role as a world-renowned leader in energy efficiency research.
Earlier this year, he helped forge ties between Berkeley Lab and China’s Tsinghua University to promote the shared development and implementation of building energy efficiency, a move intended to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S and China.
In a similar partnership, he helped usher in a joint research and development program between the U.S. and India. The Berkeley-India Joint Leadership on Energy and the Environment, announced last year, brings together researchers from Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley, and other U.S. and Indian universities and institutions. Its goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining sustained economic growth in both nations.
And in keeping with his roots as a leading materials scientist and mechanical engineer, Majumdar recently developed a way to use silicon nanowires to capture and use the energy lost as heat during the production of electricity. The futuristic technology could someday be used to convert the large amounts of waste heat into useful electricity. His research interests include energy conversion, transport, and storage ranging from molecular and nanoscales to large energy systems.
If confirmed by the Senate, Majumdar will resign from Berkeley Lab and the University of California. Ashok Gadgil will then serve as interim director of the Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division.
Among his many positions, Majumdar has served as director of the Berkeley Nanosciences and Nanoengineering Institute, an umbrella organization for expanding and coordinating Berkeley research and educational activities in nanoscale science and engineering.
He is the founding chair of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Nanotechnology Institute. He also served as a member of the Council of Materials Science and Engineering at the Department of Energy, and on the Advisory Committee to the Engineering Directorate of the National Science Foundation.
Majumdar is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is also a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. He received a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1989.
Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California for the DOE Office of Science. Visit our website at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Office of the Press Secretary
__________________________________________________ _________________ FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 5, 2009
President Obama Names Vivek Kundra Chief Information Officer
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Barack Obama named Vivek Kundra the Federal Chief Information Officer (CIO) at the White House.
The Federal Chief Information Officer directs the policy and strategic planning of federal information technology investments and is responsible for oversight of federal technology spending. The Federal CIO establishes and oversees enterprise architecture to ensure system interoperability and information sharing and ensure information security and privacy across the federal government. The CIO will also work closely with the Chief Technology Officer to advance the President’s technology agenda.
President Obama said, "Vivek Kundra will bring a depth of experience in the technology arena and a commitment to lowering the cost of government operations to this position. I have directed him to work to ensure that we are using the spirit of American innovation and the power of technology to improve performance and lower the cost of government operations. As Chief Information Officer, he will play a key role in making sure our government is running in the most secure, open, and efficient way possible."
The following announcement was made today:
Vivek Kundra, Federal Chief Information Officer
Vivek Kundra formerly served in Mayor Fenty's cabinet as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for the District of Columbia, responsible for technology operations and strategy for 86 agencies. He has been recognized among the top 25 CTO's in the country and as the 2008 IT Executive of the Year for his pioneering work to drive transparency, engage citizens and lower the cost of government operations. Kundra is also recognized for his leadership in public safety communications, cyber security and IT portfolio management. Before Kundra came to the District, Governor Timothy M. Kaine appointed him Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the first dual cabinet role in the state's history. Kundra's diverse record also includes technology and public policy experience in private industry and academia. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia's Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership and holds a MS in Information Technology from the University of Maryland.
U.S. Confirms First Special Representative To Muslim Communities
By Heather Maher, Saturday, December 26, 2009
Farah Pandith hopes to use her role to reach out Muslims worldwide - especially young people.
September 16, 2009
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has administered the oath of office to the State Department's first ever Special Representative to Muslim Communities, declaring that the appointment "could not have come at a more opportune time."
"As President Obama said in Cairo and Ankara, our nation seeks a new beginning with Muslims around the world: a relationship based on mutual interest and mutual respect,” Clinton said. “It's a relationship that requires us to listen, share ideas, and find areas of common ground in order to expand a peaceful, prosperous future."
The new position was created in part to provide an alternate narrative about the United States than many Muslims hear. At the ceremony on September 15, Clinton said it sprang from the Obama administration's desire to be "fully engaged" with the Muslim world, parts of which she said are dominated by "propaganda, stereotypes, and inaccurate generalizations" about America.
The new envoy, Farah Pandith, will focus on the things all people have in common, Clinton said -- describing them as "what we all hope for our children, the kind of questions that are asked around every breakfast, lunch, and dinner table in the world about whether we're going to have a peaceful, prosperous and stable world."
Clinton noted that there are over 1.4 billion Muslims – a greater number than the population of China or India.
“The challenges of poverty, hunger, climate change, corruption are not unique to any part of the world, to any people, and certainly not to any faith,” Clinton said. “But they do require all of us, whoever we might be, to find an active role in forging solutions that will fulfill our obligations as people of faith -- to those who are the least, the last, and the lost among us to -- in order to reach out and create that common bond."
Pandith is a Muslim American who was born in Kashmir, India, and immigrated to the United States with her parents when she was an infant.
When she was nominated in July she described her background as a mix of private and public sector experience, which she said will allow her to think creatively about how to find out what Muslims "on a grassroots levels are doing and how best to engage them."
"I think it's nuance, I think it's respect, I think it's listening, I think it's being creative,” Pandith said. “And I think it's creating many different types of initiatives to be able to do that."
Her appointment reflects Washington's desire to improve not just the image of the United States within the Muslim world, but to actively listen and respond to the concerns of Muslims in Europe, Africa, and Asia.
Start Of A New Era?
U.S. President Barack Obama's speech in Cairo in June set the tone for what he hopes will be a new era of U.S. relations with Muslims. His words were welcomed by Muslims who say their main problem with the United States was a foreign policy under former President George W. Bush that seemed designed against them -- from the invasion of Iraq, to the indefinite detentions at Guantanamo Bay, to the humiliation of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
Pandith says she plans to build on established avenues within the State Department for dialogue between the U.S. and foreign communities, including cultural exchanges and town hall meetings.
Most of all, Pandith said she plans to listen to what is needed and be the agent of response. She said she her approach will aim not to exclude any groups that make up the vast and diverse Muslim world.
"There is no one bullet that's going to fix everything, there is not one program that's going to be the magic program to engage with Muslims,” Pandith said. Instead, she said that what’s needed is listening, understanding the situation on the ground, and “finding opportunities to work with our embassies, to get to know what others are saying, and thinking, and dreaming, and believing."
This is not a new role for Pandith, who was hired in early 2007 to be former President George W. Bush's senior advisor for Muslim engagement in the European and Eurasian region. She has also worked for the National Security Council, and with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), in Kabul.
Her work will take her around the world, but her first stop in every country she visits will be the U.S. Embassy, which will serve as the local facilitator for Pandith's ideas. Her outreach efforts will cross generations and include rural and urban centers.
She said she is especially eager to hear from younger Muslims. "What I'm doing is working with embassies to find ways that we can approach a younger generation as well, in terms of listening to how they want to engage,” she said. “It's very important to understand that it isn't just one thing from Washington that's going to be shoved into everybody's faces."
Hearts And Minds
The chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, Akbar Ahmed, met Pandith at the White House in 2007 during a Ramadan dinner and says she impressed him as a "competent diplomat" with the right background for her new post.
Ahmed has advised General David Petraeus and Ambassador Richard Holbrooke on Islam and foreign policy. He said there must be concrete changes on the ground in the Muslim world for the United States to win the hearts and minds of people who, for many years, have regarded America with suspicion at best and hostility at worst.
"It's all very well to talk about listening and understanding and dignity and rebuilding bridges, but when you come down to brass tacks, when the Palestinians…or the Kashmiris in South Asia say, or the Chechens say, or the Pakistanis say that nothing very much has changed, then there will be frustration and mounting despair and anger," Ahmed said.
If Pandith can take what she hears in Muslim communities and translate it into concrete responses, Ahmed says she'll be supplying the crucial part of the equation that was missing in the Bush administration's failed outreach efforts.
"Obama does not have all that very much time. He is hitting the ground running, he is in the saddle, the crises are mounting in Afghanistan and Pakistan; these are Muslim countries,” Ahmed said.
“The Palestinian situation is on the boil again, and there really is no time for listening,” he continued. “There is time now to understand the problems -- which Farah obviously understands, coming from that background -- and begin to come up with proposals that somehow bring down the temperature, somehow give people hope, somehow engage people in the Muslim world."
Richard R. Verma assumed the mantle of the Department of State’s Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Legislative Affairs on April 6, 2009. In this role, he serves as the primary Advisor to the Secretary of State on Congressional affairs, as well as the Department’s chief liaison to Congress. Prior to his appointment, Richard Verma was a lawyer in private practice, but he most recently served as Senior National Security Advisor to the Senate Majority Leader, a position he held for several years. In 2008, Mr. Verma was appointed to serve on the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism. The Commission's comprehensive report, "World At Risk" was released in December.
Mr. Verma is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, a former country director for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and has worked in the House of Representatives. He also served as a member of the Obama/Biden Defense Department Transition Team. He holds degrees from the Georgetown University Law Center, American University’s Washington College of Law, and Lehigh University. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, was formerly an International Affairs Fellow of the Council, and has served on the National Academy of Sciences Panel on Critical Infrastructure Protection and the Law.
By appointing his college roommate, Vinai K. Thummalapally, to the cushy post of ambassador to Belize, President Barack Obama followed in the tradition of George W. Bush who also chose a college roommate as ambassador to Belize. It didn’t hurt that Thummalapally made significant financial contributions to the 2008 campaign. Confirmed by the Senate on July 30, 2009, Thummalapally is the first Indian-American ambassador in U.S. history.
Originally from the Jubilee Hills neighborhood of Hyderabad, India, Thummalapally is the son of T. Dharma Reddy, a retired scientist who worked for the Andhra Pradesh Forensic Sciences Laboratory, and T. Padmaja. Thummalapally came to the United States in 1974 at the age of 19, and attended Occidental College in Los Angeles, where he first met Obama in 1980. They spent the summer as roommates, debating foreign policy and watching Los Angeles Lakers basketball games. Thummalapally made Indian food for “Barry”—the name Obama went by at that time—teaching him how to make daal.
The two did their share of partying together, although Thummalapally’s reminiscences seem to vary. In one recollection he recalled, “It was so typical that [Obama] could just go and type out this amazing paper and do well after having partied all night, having drinks, beer or whatever we do at college.” But in another account Thummalapally told The New York Times that Obama was a model of moderation—jogging in the morning, playing pickup basketball at the gym, hitting the books and socializing. “If someone passed him a joint, he would take a drag. We’d smoke or have one extra beer, but he would not even do as much as other people on campus,” said Thummalapally. “He was not even close to being a party animal.”
Obama spent two years at Occidental before transferring to Columbia University in New York to complete his undergraduate degree. Thummalapally apparently transferred as well, given that his biography says he received his Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from California State University, although it does not say which of the 20 Cal State campuses he attended. Thummalapally’s CV also states that he later completed post-graduate courses in business administration at an unnamed university.
Thummalapally began his career as a mechanical engineer, before becoming general manager for WEA Manufacturing, which produced CDs. He went on to serve as a managing partner of Clines Office Products, as manufacturing manager of Disc Manufacturing, Inc., and as the plant manager for Mitsui Advanced Media Inc., eventually becoming president of MAM-A Inc., a Colorado-based manufacturer and distributor of recordable CDs and DVDs.
Thummalapally and his wife, Barbara, attended Obama’s wedding in 1992. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Thummalapally was named to Obama’s National Finance Committee to help “bundle” contributions that reportedly totaled between $100,000 and $200,000, according to OpenSecrets.org. Barbara worked as a volunteer for the Obama campaign.
The Thummalapallys, along with son, Vishal, and daughter, Sharanya, were VIP guests at Obama’s inauguration ceremony and ball. - Noel Brinkerhoff
Aneesh Chopra, Virginia’s secretary of technology, has joined the Barack Obama administration as the White House chief technology officer. Obama announced the appointment in his radio address April 18.
Obama also announced that he will appoint Jeffrey Zients to the position of deputy director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget, with additional duties as the federal government's first chief performance officer. Zients is the founder and managing partner of Portfolio Logic, an investment firm focused primarily on business and healthcare service companies. Zients previously served as chief executive officer and chairman of the Advisory Board Company in Washington, D.C.
Kenneth Baer, director of communications for the Office of Management and Budget said the chief performance officer position and the federal chief information officer don’t change the structure of OMB.
“What they do, do is underscore a change in emphasis and focus,” Baer said. “The CPO will now be focusing on a performance agenda, on results, on producing results and not just on the nuts and bolts management of the federal government. And the CIO, I think, also underscores a focus on using technology to deliver a government that is effective and efficient.”
The Obama administration also created the CIO position and appointed Vivek Kundra to fill it.
Chopra leads Virginia's strategy to leverage technology in government reform, to promote Virginia’s innovation agenda, and to foster technology-related economic development, the White House said. Previously, he worked with Zients as managing director with the Advisory Board Company, leading the firm’s Financial Leadership Council and the Working Council for Health Plan Executives.
IT trade groups were supportive of Chopra's appointment.
"In making this appointment, the president reiterated the key role that technological innovation plays in achieving our most urgent priorities, including job creation, transforming health care and enhancing homeland security," said Mark Bohannon, senior vice president and general counsel at the Software and Information Industry Association.
The Business Software Alliance is "encouraged by the visionary role the president has planned for the CTO," said Robert Holleyman, president and chief executive officer of BSA.
The CTO position will not be part of OMB, but a senior official there speaking on background said broadband access, health technology and net neutraility are likely to be among the CTO's top policy priorities.
Chopra earned with a masters in public policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1997, and a B.A. degree from The Johns Hopkins University in 1994. Chopra's work in Virginia was the subject of a Federal Computer Week cover story last week.
In his new role, the president in his prepared radio address said, "Aneesh will promote technological innovation to help achieve our most urgent priorities – from creating jobs and reducing health care costs to keeping our nation secure."
The president's prepared statement continued: "Aneesh and Jeffrey will work closely with our Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra, who is responsible for setting technology policy across the government, and using technology to improve security, ensure transparency, and lower costs. The goal is to give all Americans a voice in their government and ensure that they know exactly how we’re spending their money – and can hold us accountable for the results."
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 6, 2009
President Obama Announces Additional Members of Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Washington – President Barack Obama today announced additional members of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The Advisory Council is part of the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and is composed of religious and secular leaders and scholars from different backgrounds.
Each member of the Council is appointed to a one-year term. The members of the Council are:
Diane Baillargeon, President & CEO, Seedco
New York , NY
*Anju Bhargava, Founder, Asian Indian Women of America
*Bishop Charles Blake, Presiding Bishop, Church of God in Christ
Los Angeles, CA
Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association
*The Rev. Peg Chemberlin, President-Elect, National Council of Churches USA
Dr. Arturo Chavez, President & CEO, Mexican American Catholic College
San Antonio , TX
Fred Davie, Senior Adviser, Public/Private Ventures
New York , NY
*Nathan Diament, Director of Public Policy, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
Pastor Joel C. Hunter, Senior Pastor, Northland, a Church Distributed
*Harry Knox, Director, Religion and Faith Program, Human Rights Campaign
Bishop Vashti M. McKenzie, Presiding Bishop, 13th Episcopal District, African Methodist Episcopal Church
*Dalia Mogahed, Executive Director, Gallup Center for Muslim Studies
Rev. Otis Moss, Jr., Pastor emeritus, Olivet Institutional Baptist Church
Dr. Frank S. Page, President emeritus, Southern Baptist Convention
Eboo S. Patel, Founder & Executive Director, Interfaith Youth Core
*Anthony Picarello, General Counsel , United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
*Nancy Ratzan, National President, National Council of Jewish Women
Melissa Rogers, Director, Wake Forest School of Divinity Center for Religion and Public Affairs
Winston-Salem , NC
Rabbi David N. Saperstein, Director & Counsel, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Washington , DC
Dr. William J. Shaw, President, National Baptist Convention, USA
Philadelphia , PA
Father Larry J. Snyder, President, Catholic Charities USA
Alexandria , VA
Richard Stearns, President, World Vision
Bellevue , WA
Judith N. Vredenburgh, President and Chief Executive Officer, Big Brothers / Big Sisters of America
Philadelphia , PA
Rev. Jim Wallis, President & Executive Director, Sojourners
Washington , DC
*Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
NOTE: Members marked with an asterisk were announced today. The White House Office for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships will be a resource for nonprofits and community organizations, both secular and faith based, looking for ways to make a bigger impact in their communities, learn their obligations under the law, cut through red tape, and make the most of what the federal government has to offer. Other members of the Advisory Council were announced earlier this year.
Rajen Anand Named Director of USDA Nutrition Center
News in Brief: August 2009
Veteran community and Democratic Party activist Dr. Rajen Anand has been named executive director of the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
The senior executive service post is a top-level appointment superseded only by appointments needing Senate confirmation. The salary level heading a U. S. center or department is typically above that of most presidential appointments.
In a July 8 statement, Vilsack said, “President Obama and I are firmly committed to improving the health and nutrition of the American people, and I am pleased to welcome (Anand) back to USDA because he has a deep and broad understanding of dietary guidance, nutrition and how public policy is made. As a former professor and civil servant, (he) will be a huge asset to our management team.”
The mandate of the center is to improve nutrition for Americans by linking research to dietary needs and to develop dietary guidelines and the MyPyramid food guidance system.
Anand is a graduate of the University of California at Davis, where he received a doctorate in human physiology, nutrition and biochemistry in 1969 and a second doctorate in veterinary medicine.
He has published over 40 scientific articles in journals and made presentations at numerous professional meetings. His research was focused on energy metabolism, mainly involving in-utero studies of the effect of maternal nutrition on the developing fetus.
A longtime community activist in the Indian American community, among his many involvements are serving as secretary, vice president, president and foundation chair of the National Federation of Indian American Associations; chair of the Indo-American Political Association; and chair and vice chair of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucus.
President Barack Obama has appointed yet another top Indian American legal mind to a senior position to his Administration.
Rashad Hussain, 30, who recently served as a trial attorney at the US Department of Justice, was named by Obama as Deputy Associate Counsel to the President and has already started working in the White House.
Earlier, the President had named Preeta Bansal, 42, as Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Management and Budget, and Neal Katyal, 38 as Principal Deputy Solicitor General, the number two position in the Office of the Solicitor General in the Department of Justice(India Abroad, Jan.30).
Before his stint with the DOJ, Hussain was as a Law Clerk to Damon K Keith on the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Detroit, Michigan.
Prior to that, he served as a legislative assistant on the House Judiciary Committee, where he reviewed legislation such as the USA Patriot Act and his first stint on Capitol Hill as an intern in the office for former House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt during the summer of 2000.
Hussain is an alumnus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, from where he received his bachelors degrees with the highest distinction in both philosophy and political science, which he completed in two years; Yale University from where he received his JD and Harvard University from where he earned a MPA. He also holds a MA from Harvard in Near Eastern languages and civilizations.
At the University of North Carolina, Hussain, who was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, received the highest honors for his philosophy thesis, 'Assessing the Theistic Implications of Big Bang Cosmological Theory.'
Hussain, who was a Spring 2003 Soros Fellow, says in his biography that he "finds his heritage central to his identity as a Muslim American and his career goals, especially in light of events in recent history," namely 9/11.
According to him, he "sees his varied academic interests converging and feels that his study of international affairs, law, and security can form a salient combination for addressing many contemporary legal and public policy issues."
In 2004, he also wrote a major article in The Yale Law Journal arguing that "much of the debate regarding post-September 11 counterterrorism initiatives has centered on the potentially damaging effects of these policies on constitutionally protected rights."
He wrote that "many observers have weighed the balance that the government has struck between national security and civil liberties by determining the extent to which new law enforcement initiatives preserve or encroach upon these rights."
Hussain said that "while scholars debate the legality of the government's new tools, it is often more difficult to assess whether such initiatives enhance or undermine security."
According to him since "the war on terrorism relies largely on sensitive intelligence and covert operations,' the Bush Administration's so-called 'victories' often "remain undisclosed, yet such assessments will be crucial in defining the future direction of US policy."
Hussain's, was born in Wyoming, but raised in Plano, Texas, where his parents still reside. His father, Mohammad Hussain, hails from Bihar and is a retired mining engineer, and his mother Ruqaya, is a physician. He has two siblings, and older sister, Lubna, a physician and a younger brother, Saad, a medical student.
Subodh Chandra, former Cleveland, Ohio Law Director, and also a Yale alumni, who was a leading supporter and fund-raiser for the Obama campaign, told India Abroad that he didn't know Hussain personally, but hailed his appointment.
"It should be no surprise to anyone at this point that President Obama is determined to reach out to all communities, including the Indian American community for top flight talent," he said, and declared, "It's a new day for America."
Kaleem Kawaja, a senior engineer with NASA [Images], and president of the Association of Indian Muslims of America, told India Abroad that "most Indian Americans and Indian Muslims are delighted" over the appointment of Hussain, "a second generation Indian American Muslim."
"Our Association of Indian Muslims of America wishes to convey our heartfelt congratulations to this distinguished young lawyer of Indian origin upon receiving this recognition of a prestigious appointment at such a young age," he said.
Kawaja said, "Indeed, we are very happy to see that true to this campaign promises, President Obama is giving high level responsibility to a diverse set of Americans, many of them children of immigrants."
"We are optimistic that soon more Indian Americans will receive senior level appointments in the government that will enable them to make policies for the US government at the highest level," he added.
Ro Khanna, who joined E2 in April 2005, has been appointed by President Obama to serve as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Domestic Operations of the United States and Foreign Commercial Service, International Trade Administration, at the United States Department of Commerce. The U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service is the key export promotion agency of the federal government with a worldwide network of employees and a mission of assisting businesses in exporting their goods and services worldwide. In this capacity, Ro is responsible for overseeing the domestic operations of 109 U.S. Export Assistance Centers operating in 47 different states. In addition, he is responsible for a number of trade promotion programs, the Trade Information Center, and the development and execution of marketing and communications strategies.
Ro is going to lead an important cleantech mission to India for energy efficiency companies and renewable energy companies including solar, clean coal and biofuels. It is the first time that an Indian American is leading a U.S. trade mission to India. It is also the first cleantech mission by an Obama appointee. Ro's mission will be a week before Indian Prime Minister Singh's first state visit to the United States under the President's administration. E2 members have previously been active in these DOC trade missions and are encouraged to apply for Ro's upcoming trip. Access information/application for November's India trade mission.
Of his new post, Ro says, "I am honored to serve under Secretary Locke and be a part of a department that plays a critical role in President Obama's vision for economic recovery. Together with Commerce's ITA team, I look forward to working to strengthen American competitiveness, increase exports, and create good paying jobs here at home."
Prior to joining the Department of Commerce, Ro was counsel at O'Melveny & Myers where he practiced intellectual property and complex business litigation. He was named a Northern California Super Lawyers "Rising Star" in 2009. Ro also served as Chair of the Indo American Council at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, where he helped current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) shape the innovation and cleantech agenda for the Democratic Party. Ro has served on the Board of Sustainable San Mateo County and the Human Investment Project, and was a mentor to the Irvington High School "We The People 2009" team. He is a Phi Beta graduate of the University of Chicago, in Economics, and a graduate of Yale Law School.
For Manhattan’s Next U.S. Attorney, Politics and Prosecution Don’t Mix
By BENJAMIN WEISER
Published: August 9, 2009
He worked for one of the most partisan Democratic senators in Washington, and a few years ago helped to uncover political maneuverings by the Justice Department in the administration of President George W. Bush. But perhaps the most telling aspect about Preet Bharara, the next United States attorney in Manhattan, may be how he managed to win the trust and respect of even those who might have been his natural opponents.
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“Party affiliation can’t tell you whether to indict a case, whether to plead it out, or how to try it.” PREET BHARARA United States attorney designee and ex-aide to Senator Schumer
Mr. Bharara, who served as the chief counsel to Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, played a major role in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation into the firings of United States attorneys around the country. As he took sworn testimony from witnesses, handled the issuance of subpoenas and negotiated with administration officials over the production of documents and other materials, he drew praise for his evenhanded approach.
He even won over one fired prosecutor, David C. Iglesias of New Mexico, a Republican who said he had wavered over whether to testify voluntarily before the panel, fearing that it would degenerate into a “partisan circus.” But after their conversations, Mr. Iglesias said, he concluded that Mr. Bharara was approaching the investigation like a prosecutor, not a politician. “It gave me a lot of assurance," Mr. Iglesias said. “He completely understood what was at stake here.”
A key factor, Mr. Iglesias added, was that Mr. Bharara had formerly worked as a prosecutor in the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, an office with a reputation for independence and nonpartisanship.
Now, Mr. Bharara, 40, will be asked to carry on that tradition. On Friday, the Senate confirmed him to be the next United States attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Although he declined to comment for this article, he spoke last year about his role in the Senate inquiry and his feelings that a line between federal prosecutors and politics had been crossed. “You’re talking about the Department of Justice,” he said, “that employs 100,000 people, that used to be led by Bobby Kennedy, that a lot of people in America look to.”
IN his new post, Mr. Bharara will oversee more than 200 lawyers who handle some of the country’s most prominent cases, like the prosecution of Bernard L. Madoff for his multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme.
As a naturalized American citizen from India, Mr. Bharara also brings a diversity of background to the post.
And while recent United States attorneys in Manhattan have come directly from prosecutors’ jobs, Mr. Bharara’s background on Capitol Hill will serve him well, said Daniel C. Richman, a law professor at Columbia University and a former Southern District prosecutor.
“He contributes things that we’ve not seen before,” Professor Richman said. “He’s thought hard about what a U.S. attorney’s place should be within a broader federal enforcement system and the train wrecks that can develop when unthinking or ill-thinking bureaucrats tamper with that.”
Preetinder S. Bharara was born in Ferozepur, India, and he was an infant when his parents immigrated to the United States in 1970. He grew up in Monmouth County, N.J., and graduated from Harvard in 1990 and Columbia Law School in 1993. That summer, he worked for several weeks as a volunteer in Mark Green’s campaign for public advocate, occasionally driving the candidate to campaign events.
He has reflected on his roots and the improbable journey his family took to get to this country.
His father, a Sikh, and his mother, who was Hindu, were born in what is now Pakistan, before India and Pakistan were separate countries. In the violent migration that occurred after the 1947 partition, his father and mother both moved to the Indian side, with their families losing property and most of their possessions, Mr. Bharara has said.
His wife’s father, a Muslim, also moved, from the Indian side into Pakistan, also losing his home “and much, much more,” as Mr. Bharara put it. And his wife’s mother was born in Palestine, after her father, who was Jewish, escaped with his family from Nazi Germany.
“Four different families, practicing four different faiths — all compelled to flee a half century ago because of their religion,” Mr. Bharara said in a speech to the South Asian Bar Association of New York in 2007.
“It also means,” he joked, “that even when my wife fasts for Yom Kippur, and my father-in-law fasts for Ramadan, I get to stuff my face with samosas all day.”
In 2000, after about six years in private practice, Mr. Bharara became a Southern District prosecutor, first under Mary Jo White, and later under James B. Comey. For five years, he prosecuted organized crime, narcotics and securities fraud, among other crimes. One major case, with dozens of defendants, involved Chinese organized crime.
He was a hard worker who had a self-deprecating wit and stayed cool under pressure, according to former associates. “Preet was one of those guys in the office who everyone wanted to try a case with,” said Christopher P. Conniff, a prosecutor at the time.
IN 2005, Mr. Bharara became Senator Schumer’s chief counsel. Former colleagues described him as a skilled staff member in a political caldron where Democrats were often negotiating among themselves as much as they were with Republicans.
“He does have an incredible manner and ability to work with others,” said the New Jersey attorney general, Anne Milgram, who in 2005 served as counsel to Jon S. Corzine, then a United States senator, and got to know Mr. Bharara through their work on judiciary issues.
“He never carries himself like he’s the smartest guy in the room, even though he often is,” she added.
Mr. Bharara said in a speech in 2007, “Party affiliation can’t tell you whether to indict a case, whether to plead it out, or how to try it.”
His approach has allowed him to remain close to people with whom he otherwise disagrees sharply. One friend from college, Viet D. Dinh, who served as an assistant attorney general in the George W. Bush administration and now teaches law at Georgetown University, said, “To this day I cannot find a single big political philosophical issue upon which Preet and I agree, but I can’t imagine two other people trusting each other implicitly the way Preet and I do.”
During the Judiciary Committee’s investigation into the prosecutor firings, Mr. Bharara was aided by his background as a federal prosecutor in Manhattan.
“To the extent that Preet was the driving force of the investigation, it was conducted in a completely fair, thorough and professional manner,” said Michael M. Purpura, a former Southern District colleague who was a senior lawyer in the Bush Justice Department and later an associate White House counsel.
The investigation, along with a separate inquiry by the House Judiciary Committee, culminated in the 2007 resignation of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.
Mr. Bharara, in a bar association talk last year, said that the investigation’s focus had been not only on whether there had been violations of law, but also on whether “the great traditions of the department were violated.”
He added, “The more that was uncovered, the more it seemed clear that there was politicization,” not only in how United States attorneys were being fired or hired, but even at the lowest level — “the line level,” as he put it — “where there should never be any politics at all.”
By SUNITA SOHRABJI
indiawest.com May 14, 2009 06:37:00 PM
Subash Iyer, 23, a former business analyst at the management consulting giant McKinsey and Co., has been appointed special assistant to Karen Mills, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Association.
Iyer, possibly the youngest member of President Barack Obama’s new administration, wrote in an e-mail to India-West, “I am extremely fortunate to have this opportunity, and am thankful to Administrator Mills for the trust she has shown in me.”
“It is an honor to serve our country as part of the Obama administration. I hope to bring my perspective from my private sector background as well as broader experiences to help the U.S. Small Business Administration achieve its goals in assisting small businesses,” said the Austin, Texas-born Iyer.
“The U.S. Small Business Administration is working hard to assist America's small businesses, which are the backbone of the nation's economy,” he said, noting that small businesses employ nearly half of the nation's workforce, and are responsible for around 70 percent of net new jobs created.
“I am excited to help America's small businesses recover from the economic downturn, to thrive and grow.”
The 2002 U.S. Census noted that there were more than 1.1 million small businesses in the nation owned by Asian Americans, generating more than $326 billion in annual revenues and providing employment to 2.2 million workers. Indian American small businesses generated the highest revenues, averaging $385,080 per year. Indian Americans also own 40 percent of the country’s smaller hotels.
Mills — a former venture capitalist who was confirmed unanimously by the Senate on Apr. 2 — announced Iyer’s appointment and seven others on Apr. 15.
“Small businesses are one of the key drivers of economic recovery and the SBA has a vital role to play in helping them have access to the capital and resources they need to survive and prosper in these tough economic times,” said Mills at the announcement.
“I am thrilled to be working alongside a team of talented and dedicated public servants who are committed to ensuring that this agency is the partner that small businesses need at this critical time,” she said.
At her confirmation hearing Apr. 1, Mills said she wanted to work with both traditional small businesses and those in emerging fields, such as clean technology and life sciences startups.
In his e-mail, Iyer — who has been working with the SBA since February — said he wanted to bring a “fact-based, analytical perspective to how the SBA operates. This will help SBA identify priorities on which to focus and more effectively serve our nation's small businesses.”
One of his main objectives will be to develop assessments and metrics that help the agency assess its progress in assisting small businesses. Iyer is also charged with developing policy for Mills, and managing program implementation projects.
Iyer — raised in Basking Ridge, New Jersey — is the son of Mani Iyer from Chennai, an engineer at Alcatel-Lucent; and Raji Iyer of Mumbai, a CPA at MetLife. His brother Sundeep is currently at Harvard.
“I credit my parents, close friends, and mentors for their advice and support throughout my life, especially in the early stages of my career," Iyer told India-West.
After graduating summa cum laude from Columbia University with a B.A. in economics-mathematics, Iyer began his career as a research analyst at the executive search firm Spencer Stuart. He then moved on to Goldman Sachs’ Investment Management Division as a business planning analyst before joining McKinsey’s Boston, Mass., office in July 2007.
Iyer also volunteered as an SAT tutor with “Let’s Get Ready,” a non-profit organization helping students of all backgrounds prepare for college.