Kamala Harris gathers White House staff while building her vice president’s portfolio

The staff, who are both women and two colored people – highlight the commitment of the incoming administration to diversity.

“Tina is firmly committed to serving the American people and her leadership will be critical as we work to overcome the unprecedented challenges facing our nation,” Harris said in a statement.

Rohini Kosoglu, a long-term Assistant to Harris who currently serves as Harris ’senior advisor to the Transition Group and has served as Deputy Chief of Staff in both the incoming Vice-Presidential Senate office and the previous presidential campaign, will be his domestic policy advisor. Ambassador Nancy McEldowney will be Harris’ national security adviser. McEldowney has had an extensive career in foreign services, including serving as U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria under George W. Bush.

“Together with the rest of my team, today’s nominees will work to keep this virus under control, open up our economy responsibly, and ensure that it elevates all Americans and restores and promotes our country’s leadership around the world,” Harris said.

The majority of the “ladies,” the color trio, join at least two other women of color who will take the lead in Harris ’office during recent high-profile appointments for an administration that has promised its lines to reflect American diversity. This includes Symone Sanders, the inaugural senior advisor and chief spokesperson for the elected vice president, and Ashley Etienne, who will serve as Harris ’communications director.

The official announcement, first handed to CNN, takes an early look at who he will be surrounding at the start of Harris ’new role as he begins to build his portfolio.

Build your team

Harris has known Flournoy for months, but it’s a relatively new relationship, a source close to Harris told CNN. The elected vice president spoke to Flournoy shortly after the president-elect, Joe Biden, selected him in August, during phone calls to various leaders and democratic operatives.

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Harris, 56, relied on advice at the time and told Flournoy, “I hope it helps me find good co-workers, including myself,” the source says.

Harris practically interviewed a number of leaders, both men and women, what acquaintances called a “rigorous process.” They both identified individuals he wanted to interview for the job and interviewed some who were provided to him by the transition team.

He didn’t start by saying “I want a black woman.” He first said, “I want the best man for this job. And this person happens to be black, “said Minyon Moore, a veteran political operational and current interim advisor to help build the elected vice president’s staff. CNN in an interview.

Eventually, Harris chose Flournoy, a renowned black woman and Democrat operative with decades of experience in Washington DC, and her aligned vision reflects the administration’s priorities and the values ​​she intends to bring to Harris ’office.

Flournoy is part of “Colorful Girls,” which stormed presidential politics in the late 1980s, including Donna Brazile, Moore, Leah Daughtry, and Yolanda Caraway.
“When they start talking, everyone closes to hell.” a source close to the campaign told CNN earlier this year.

Prior to his current job with Clinton, Flournoy, a graduate of Georgetown Law, held several roles in the Democratic Party, including in 2005 as a senior adviser to Howard Dean, then president of the Democratic National Convention. Joseph Lieberman, the presidential candidate, then CFO of the then presidential campaign of Al Gore and served as deputy campaign manager in the 1992 Clinton and Gore Presidential Transitional Office and served in the White House Presidential Personnel Office, says Georgetown University Biography.

Kosoglu, who will be Harris ’domestic policy adviser, has played a crucial role in his national politics career, working as a senior adviser since 2017 and having deep ties with his boss. She was an American from Sri Lanka, she was the first South Asian American woman to work as a chief of staff in the U.S. Senate — she worked for Harris, the first South Asian-American senator. Kosolglu was a fellow at the Harvard University’s Institute of Politics in the spring of 2020, and before joining Harris ’campaign, he held senior leadership positions alongside Colorado’s Michael Bennet and Michigan’s Debbie Stabenow.

As chief of staff for the primary campaign, Kosoglu played an important role in filling the team, so he deliberately formed a diverse group and pursued a policy, a source familiar with the campaign’s affairs told CNN. During the general election, Kosoglu often traveled with the then vice-presidential candidate.

In a statement, Harris nodded to Kosoglu’s vital role and called him “an expert on some of the most important issues for the American people, but one of my closest and most reliable helpers to the Senate and presidential campaign.”

The third member of the team, announced by Harris on Thursday, McEldowney served more than 30 years as a career foreign service employee, as well as the executive and deputy head of mission in Turkey and Azerbaijan and Foreign Ministry director Georgetown, according to Georgetown biography. .

Building your portfolio

Although no official policy designation has been set, sources say Harris wants to be part of the administration in rebuilding small and medium-sized businesses deprived of the epidemic, in part because they disproportionately affect women and people of color.

The elected vice president also plays a role in the administration’s education platform – as many children are left behind at the time of the pandemic who do not have adequate broadband access.

Harris has long focused on child welfare throughout his career as a prosecutor, in the Senate, and during his own presidential campaign. During the campaign, his first major policy proposal last year promised to raise teachers ’salaries.

Over time, he will try to consolidate his foreign policy and national security accolades, drawing on his four years of experience as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, a source adds.

This is complemented by Harris ’potential role in criminal justice and climate justice reforms, drawing on his years as California attorney general and San Francisco district attorney.

The arsenal of key staff with which Harris surrounds himself will be essential to securing the work that underpins the record.

For his part, Flournoy is associated with a number of former Biden consultants who have worked with them in Washington in various capacities.

“The White House is built on a lot of things, but relationships are paramount,” a source said.

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McEldowney, a veteran of the foreign policy arena, also has a deep connection to the community. Kosgoulu, who has spent many years on Capitol Hill, can serve as a delegate for Harris, who, once inaugurated, becomes President of the Senate.

But the most important relationship of each is what Harris builds with the president-elect.

“The first obligation is to do what the President of the United States asked us to do,” said Moore, who worked as White House’s director of political affairs with Bill Clinton and watched his relationship with Gore flourish.

Harris often called Biden a “model” in shaping how he would shape his own vice presidency, and he called his leadership on important issues to inspire President Barack Obama to support his work.

Moore said he witnessed the couple being open and trustworthy.

“His voice is heard. He has a full seat at the table, not a half seat. He has a full seat. Shirley Chisholm said if you don’t have room, bring a folding chair with you. Well, you have a hard chair.” Moore said.