John Podesta served as Chief of Staff to President Clinton. In that capacity, he was responsible for directing, managing, and overseeing all policy development, daily operations, Congressional relations, and staff activities of the White House from October 1998 until January 2001. He coordinated the work of cabinet agencies with a particular emphasis on the development of federal budget and tax policy. He served in the President’s Cabinet, and as a Principal on the National Security Council. A frequent guest of Sunday morning news programs, Mr. Podesta is known for his straight talk, acerbic wit, and fierce defense of the Clinton Administration.
Valerie Jarrett: Jarrett was born in Shiraz, Iran, where her father, Dr. James Bowman, ran a hospital for poor children. Her father, a pathologist and geneticist, is Professor Emeritus in Pathology and Medicine, University of Chicago. Her mother, Barbara Bowman, is an early childhood education expert and co-founder of the Erikson Institute for child development. Her maternal grandfather, Robert Taylor was the head of the Chicago Housing Authority in the 1940s. At age 5, the family moved to London for one year, then returned to Chicago in 1963.
Jarrett continued to work in the mayor’s office in the 1990s. She was Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Richard Daley, during which time (1991) she hired Michelle Robinson, then engaged to Barack Obama, away from a private law firm. Jarrett served as Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development from 1992 through 1995; and was Chair of the Chicago Transit Board from 1995 to 2005.
She is currently the CEO of The Habitat Company, a real estate development and management company, which she joined in 1995. She was a Member of the Board of Chicago Stock Exchange (2000-2007, as Chairman, 2004-2007).
She is also the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Chicago Medical Center, Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Chicago and a Trustee of Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. Ms. Jarrett serves on the board of directors of USG corporation, a Chicago based building materials corporation. Ms. Jarrett has experience in negotiation, persuasion and conflict resolution; a long record of outreach to the African-American community; fierce, almost familial loyalty to Mr. Obama and his wife Michelle.
Pete Rouse: Rouse is chief of staff for Senator Barack Obama. Rouse helped prepare a memo, “The Strategic Plan,” for Obama’s first year in the Senate. Helping Obama navigate Senate politics and yet remain an outsider, Rouse advised Obama against criticizing Democratic Leader Harry M. Reid while voting against ethics reform legislation. Obama worked with Senator Russell Feingold on strengthening amendments). Similarly, he suggested that Obama speak with Senators Edward M. Kennedy and Joseph I. Lieberman in the early stages of exploring his presidential candidacy. Rouse also is credited with persuading Obama to vote against the nomination of John G. Roberts, Jr., who is now Chief Justice of the United States (Bacon 2007). Known as “the 101st Senator” thanks to his knowledge and skills. Rouse has spoken against the partisanship in Washington politics: “We’ve got to try harder to find principled compromises.
For the past several months, a board of advisors has been working informally in Chicago planning for a possible presidential transition. Among the many projects undertaken by the transition board have been detailed analyses of previous transition efforts, policy statements made during the campaign, and the workings of federal government agencies, and priority positions that must be filled by the incoming administration.
With Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s election, this planning process will be now be formally organized as the Obama-Biden Transition Project, a 501(c)(4) organization to ensure a smooth transition from one administration to the next. The work of this entity will be overseen by three co-chairs: John Podesta, Valerie Jarrett, and Pete Rouse.
The co-chairs will be assisted by an advisory board comprised of individuals with significant private and public sector experience: Carol Browner, William Daley, Christopher Edley, Michael Froman, Julius Genachowski, Donald Gips, Governor Janet Napolitano, Federico Peña, Susan Rice, Sonal Shah, Mark Gitenstein, and Ted Kaufman. Gitenstein and Kaufman will serve as co-chairs of Vice President-elect Biden’s transition team.
Supervising the day-to-day activities of the transition will be:
Transition Senior Staff:
Chris Lu – Executive Director
Dan Pfeiffer – Communications Director
Stephanie Cutter – Chief Spokesperson
Cassandra Butts – General Counsel
Jim Messina – Personnel Director
Patrick Gaspard – Associate Personnel Director
Christine Varney – Personnel Counsel
Melody Barnes – Co-Director of Agency Review
Lisa Brown – Co-Director of Agency Review
Phil Schiliro – Director of Congressional Relations
Michael Strautmanis – Director of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs
Katy Kale – Director of Operations
Brad Kiley – Director of Operations
Detailed information on other staff will follow in upcoming days.