Metro Weekly

Biden taps gay Obama staffer Gautam Raghavan for Office of Presidential Personnel

Former Obama White House staffer will be entrusted with recruiting and vetting more than 4,000 government appointees

Gautam Raghavan, biden, gay
Gautam Raghavan — Photo: Todd Franson

President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Gautam Raghavan, a gay man who previously served as a White House staffer in the Obama administration, to serve as Deputy Director of the Office of Presidential Personnel.

In his new role, Raghavan will be tasked with identifying, recruiting, and vetting more than 4,000 political appointments across the federal government.

Raghavan, the former Associate Director of Public Engagement and chief liaison to both the LGBTQ and Asian-American communities, is currently part of Biden’s transition team, and has worked with the LGBTQ Victory Institute to identify qualified out LGBTQ people worthy of appointments.

Two years ago, Raghavan penned a book West Wingers: Stories from the Dream Chasers, Change Makers, and Hope Creators Inside the Obama White House, in which he compiled stories from former Obama administration officials about their roles in government, their memories of projects or initiatives they worked on, and how their personal stories or backgrounds influenced their desire to work on particular issues. He particularly went out of his way to ensure the final stories included in the book were representative of the country and people from diverse communities.

“The idea was not to just find people who had a great anecdote, but to find people who were in some way deeply enmeshed in the story that they had to tell,” he told Metro Weekly in an interview.

Annise Parker, the president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute, which runs a Presidential Appointments Initiative, a coalition of 32 LGBTQ and allied organizations that put forth names of qualified LGBTQ individuals who can effectively serve in government, praised Raghavan’s selection.

“Gautam’s appointment demonstrates the President-elect’s long-term commitment to building an administration that is reflective of America,” Parker said in a statement. “He believes a diverse administration best serves the President and our nation and will ensure appointing qualified LGBTQ people, women and people of color at every level of government remains a priority for the next four years.”

Related: White House names Gautam Raghavan to LGBT Liaison role

The Presidential Appointments Initiative was first launched during former President Bill Clinton’s administration, and reached its peak under former President Barack Obama, who appointed 330 LGBTQ people in total — more than half of whom were brought to the administration’s attention by the initiative. 

“Gautam also understands our community is not monolithic and that LGBTQ people of all races, sexual orientations and gender identities must be part of the new administration,” Parker added. “He is an excellent choice and our Presidential Appointments Initiative team looks forward to continue working with him.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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