Gautam Raghavan, a gay Indian-American who served as a White House LGBTQ+ liaison in President Barack Obama's administration, has been appointed deputy director of the Office of Presidential Personnel by President-elect Joe Biden.
That position is "key to identifying, recruiting and vetting the more than 4,000 political appointments across the federal government," according to a press release from the LGBTQ Victory Institute, which provides training and leadership development to LGBTQ+ people in politics.
Raghavan is a member of Biden's transition team and has worked closely with Victory Institute's Presidential Appointments Initiative on its efforts to ensure that qualified out LGBTQ+ people are appointed throughout the new administration, Victory Institute notes.
"Gautam's appointment demonstrates the president-elect's long-term commitment to building an administration that is reflective of America. 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," Victory Institute President and CEO Annise Parker said in the release. "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. He is an excellent choice and our Presidential Appointments Initiative team looks forward to continue working with him."
The Presidential Appointments Initiative -- a coalition of 32 LGBTQ+ and allied organizations -- plans to put forward hundreds of highly qualified LGBTQ+ candidates for positions throughout the next administration and advocate for their consideration.
In announcing the appointments of Raghavan and others Tuesday, Biden issued a statement saying, "These experienced individuals are joining my administration to carry out policies that will put our nation on a path to building back better than ever before. They are respected leaders whose values and priorities align with my own and who will dutifully execute their roles to serve the American people. Their dedication to overcoming the challenges facing our country are rooted in their diverse backgrounds and experiences, helping deliver the change America needs in these difficult times."
On the transition team, Raghavan has served as deputy director of presidential appointments. Previously, he was chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington State, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He has been an adviser to the Biden Foundation and as vice president of Policy for the Gill Foundation, one of the oldest and largest private foundations dedicated to the cause of LGBTQ+ equality.
During the Obama-Biden administration, Raghavan worked in the White House as liaison to the LGBTQ+ community as well as the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community, and in the White House Liaison Office for the U.S. Department of Defense and as outreach lead for the Pentagon's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Working Group. A first-generation immigrant, he was born in India, raised in Seattle, and graduated from Stanford University. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his husband and their daughter.
Other LGBTQ+ appointees by Biden include lesbians Karine Jean-Pierre and Pili Tobar, who will be on the White House communications staff; Carlos Elizondo, a gay man who will be White House social secretary; and gay man Pete Buttigieg, his nominee for secretary of Transportation, who will require confirmation by the Senate. Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., who sought the Democratic presidential nomination, will be the first out LGBTQ+ person to be confirmed by the Senate to a Cabinet post if he gets the body's approval. Buttigieg has been a member of Biden's transition team as well.
LGBTQ+ people working in the transition also include military veteran Shawn Skelly, a transgender woman; attorneys Chai Feldblum, a lesbian, and Pamela Karlan, a bisexual woman; and Dave Noble, a gay political activist who worked in the Obama administration. They are all part of the transition team's agency review teams, tasked with evaluating various federal government agencies.