President-elect Joe Biden has named the first out member of his White House staff — Carlos Elizondo, a gay man who will be social secretary.
Elizondo was special assistant to President Barack Obama and social secretary to Biden and his wife, Jill, during all eight years Biden was vice president; he was the first Hispanic-American to hold this position, according to an announcement from the Biden transition team. In that capacity he was responsible for planning and overseeing all events hosted by the Biden family, including those involving members of Congress, foreign dignitaries, business leaders, and celebrities.
He also worked in the Clinton-Gore administration, when he served in both the White House and in the Office of the U.S. Chief of Protocol, managing numerous state visits, papal visits, the Centennial Olympic Games, the NATO 50th Anniversary Summit, and other international events.
Elizondo has held several positions outside of government, including senior director of presidential events at Georgetown University, manager of special activities and protocol at Walt Disney World, and estate manager overseeing operations for a private family estate. He is a Texas native and a graduate of the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio. He and his partner live in Washington, D.C.
He won’t be the first gay man to be White House social secretary — that distinction went to Jeremy Bernard, who held that post during part of Obama’s presidency, the first man and the first out gay person to do so.
Biden is expected to announce more LGBTQ+ staffers. There were several involved in the presidential campaign, such as Karine Jean-Pierre, who was chief of staff to vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris; Jamal Brown, national press secretary; and Reggie Greer, who led outreach to LGBTQ+ voters.
Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., and a onetime presidential aspirant, is on Biden’s transition team, and there has been much speculation that he will be offered a position in the administration. Several LGBTQ+ people are members of Agency Review Teams, evaluating Cabinet-level departments and other agencies during the transition, including Shawn Skelly, Chai Feldblum, Pamela Karlan, and Dave Noble.