Another first: All three top posts in Kamala Harris’ office will be filled by women
For the first time, the top three positions in the office of the vice president will be held by women—and all serving under the first woman to hold the office.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris announced her top aides on Thursday, including Tina Flournoy as chief of staff, in addition to naming her domestic policy adviser and national security adviser.
“Together with the rest of my team, today’s appointees will work to get this virus under control, open our economy responsibly and make sure it lifts up all Americans, and restore and advance our country’s leadership around the world,” Harris said in a statement.
President-elect Joe Biden and Harris have made a point of making historic appointments to staff jobs and cabinet positions, pledging to build a team “that looks like America.” It stands in contrast to the cabinet and staff for President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, which is largely White.
Biden has chosen Janet Yellen, who would be the first female Treasury secretary, and a diverse group for national security and economic jobs as well as White House staff. Earlier this week, Biden announced his senior communications team, all of whom are women, including two—Ashley Etienne and Symone Sanders—assigned to Harris.
Nevertheless, Biden is already facing some criticism for not choosing enough African Americans or Latinos for key jobs, as he continues to build out his cabinet. Representative Jim Clyburn, the highest-ranking Black member of Congress and who is credited with turning the primary campaign in Biden’s favor, has expressed concern about the number of Black appointees.
Harris is expected to continue to build out her roster of aides. Flournoy is former President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff. She had also worked as assistant to the president for public policy at the American Federation of Teachers. Flournoy served various roles in the Clinton administration, beginning with his 1992 campaign. The last woman to hold the position of chief of staff to the vice president was Ann Whitman under Vice President Nelson Rockefeller beginning in 1974.
Rohini Kosoglu will serve as domestic policy adviser to the vice president. Kosoglu currently is a senior adviser to Harris. She was the first South Asian-American woman to serve as chief of staff in the U.S. Senate, having worked for Harris’s Senate office as well for her primary presidential campaign.
Nancy McEldowney, the former U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria, will serve as Harris’s national security adviser. McEldowney was director of European affairs on the National Security Council staff in the Clinton administration as well as the principal deputy assistant secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs.