Closing The Gap

Kamala Harris announces new staff picks, marking first time women will hold top 3 spots in VP's office

U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks as she and U.S. President-elect Joe Biden announce nominees and appointees to serve on their economic policy team at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., December 1, 2020.
Leah Millis | Reuters

On Thursday, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris added three women to her roster of top aides, marking the first time in history that the top three positions in the U.S. vice president's office will be held by women.

Harris, who is the first woman, Black American and South Asian American to be elected VP, announced on Twitter that she was appointing Tina Flournoy as her chief of staff, Rohini Kosoglu as her domestic policy advisor and Nancy McEldowney as her national security advisor. Harris' appointment of three women to top aide positions follows the announcement that Harris and President-elect Joe Biden will also have an all-female communications team, which ties in with Biden's commitment to "building an administration that looks like America."

Flournoy, a graduate of Georgetown University and Georgetown University Law Center, currently serves as chief of staff to former president Bill Clinton. Prior to her current position, Flournoy worked as an assistant to the president for public policy at the American Federation of Teachers, which is an international union that has over 1.6 million members.

Flournoy comes to Harris' team with years of political experience. Over the last 30 years, she's held several Democratic Party positions including her role as general counsel for the 1992 Democratic National Convention and counsel for the Democratic National Committee under chairmen Paul Kirk and Ron Brown. Additionally, Flournoy served as head of Governor Howard Dean's Democratic National Committee transition team. Dean served as chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009.

After Harris' announcement, Clinton took to Twitter to congratulate Flournoy on her new role after working with him for nearly eight years.

Kosoglu, who Harris appointed as domestic policy advisor, currently serves as senior advisor to Harris on the Biden-Harris transition team and previously worked as senior advisor on the Biden-Harris campaign. Prior to these positions, Kosoglu served as Harris' chief of staff for her senate office, making her the first South Asian American woman to serve in this role in United States Senate history. Kosoglu, who also served as chief of staff for Harris' presidential campaign, is a graduate of the University of Michigan and George Washington University. Earlier this year, she served as a Spring 2020 resident fellow at the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

McEldowney, who Harris appointed as national security advisor, will join the team with more than 30 years of experience in the U.S. Foreign Service, having previously worked as U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria and as Chargé d'Affaires and deputy chief of mission in Turkey and Azerbaijan.

A graduate of New College of Florida, Columbia University and the National Defense University, McEldowney spent time early in her career working as a leading policy advisor on Europe. This included serving as director of European affairs on the National Security Council staff for President Clinton, and as principal deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs.

Harris' new appointments add to the growing list of diverse leaders who will join the Biden-Harris administration in the White House in January 2021.

Together with the rest of her team, Harris says that Flournoy, Kosoglu and McEldowney "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."

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