Several with Delaware ties join Biden administration
While the new Biden administration taking office Jan. 20 will be awash with those who formerly held positions in the Obama administration, there will be some with Delaware ties making the jump to federal service.
The majority of those Delawareans have either taught at or served in administrative roles at the University of Delaware, the alma mater of President-elect Joe Biden which is also home to his senatorial archives and the Biden Institute at the university’s Joseph R. Biden School of Public Policy & Administration.
One of the most notable faces making the return move to Washington is Mike Donilon, who will serve as senior advisor to the president. He previously served as chief strategist for the Biden-Harris campaign, where he was responsible for overseeing message discipline and development, TV advertising, speechwriting, and polling and research. Locals probably better know him as the former managing director of the Biden Institute and an assistant professor at UD.
Another former UD official joining the administration is incoming Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the Director of the Domestic Policy Council Stefanie Feldman, who has worked with the president-elect for about a decade, including most recently as national policy director for the presidential campaign. Previously she worked as the first policy director for the Biden Institute at UD.
Deputy Chief of Staff Bruce Reed, who served as Biden’s vice presidential chief of staff from 2011 to 2013, is returning to the White House to back up Chief of Staff Ron Klain. Delawareans may remember Reed as a visiting professor at UD in 2018 and an advisor to the Biden Institute.
One of the most important White House roles filled by a Delaware native is the director of the Office of Legislative Affairs, which is responsible for advancing the president’s legislative agenda on Capitol Hill. That job will carry significant importance as Biden’s Democratic Party will hold only a tiebreaker control on the U.S. Senate and a slim margin on the House of Representatives in the first two years of his term.
Transitioning into that role is Louisa Terrell, a 1987 graduate of the Wilmington Friends School who previously served as deputy chief of staff for then-Sen. Biden and chief of staff for Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). She also served as executive director of the Biden Foundation for two years.
One of those with the strongest current Delaware ties is Michael Hochman, who will serve as deputy staff secretary, the second-ranking position in the White House office responsible for managing document flow to the president and senior staff.
Although he is a Pennsylvania resident, Hochman was most recently a member of the law firm Monzack Mersky Browder and Hochman, P.A. in Wilmington, where he served as a litigator with extensive experience in both state and federal courts. He previously served as a trial lawyer with the state’s Office of the Public Defender and clerked for the Delaware Court of Chancery.
According to previous reports from the University of Pennsylvania student newspaper The Daily Pennsylvanian, Hochman was a close friend and college roommate of Biden’s late son, Beau.
Other officials with ties to the First State include Cecilia Martinez, who will serve as senior director for environmental justice at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
She is the co-founder and executive director at the Center for Earth, Energy, and Democracy (CEED), a Minneapolis-based environmental justice activist organization. Martinez previously served as an associate research professor at UD, where she also earned a Ph.D. from the College of Urban Affairs and Public Policy.
Finally, Elizabeth Klein will serve as Deputy Secretary of the Interior, the second-ranking position for the Cabinet post charged with overseeing management and conservation of most federal land and natural resources. Most recently, she was deputy director of the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at New York University School of Law, but according to Biden’s transition team, the Virginia resident “has roots in Delaware and Massachusetts, among other places.”