Making history: Kamala Harris chooses all-female senior staff
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has chosen to fill the top three positions in her office with women. It'll be the first time that the senior staff in that office will all be female -- and all working for the first woman to be vice president.
Harris named Tina Flournoy, a veteran Democratic strategist and aide to the Clintons, as her chief of staff, the transition team announced Thursday.
Flournoy's appointment as Harris' top staffer adds to a team of advisers led by Black women. Harris, who is of Jamaican and Indian heritage, is the nation's first female vice president. Flournoy joins Ashley Etienne as Harris' communications director and Symone Sanders as her chief spokeswoman.
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Flournoy has served as chief of staff for former President Bill Clinton since 2013. That follows a career that took her to top posts at the Democratic National Committee, in the presidential campaigns of former Vice President Al Gore and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and with the American Federation of Teachers.
Bill Clinton called her appointment “great news for our country."
“Tina Flournoy is incredibly smart, strong, and skillful, with deeply rooted values. She’s done a wonderful job as my chief of staff for nearly 8 years, and I will miss her—but I’m thrilled about VP-elect Harris’ choice," he tweeted.
Harris also announced Rohini Kosoglu as her domestic policy adviser and Nancy McEldowney as her national security adviser. Kosoglu had served as Harris’ top adviser during the general election campaign. McEldowney is a former ambassador to Bulgaria and has 30 years of service in various diplomatic and foreign affairs jobs.
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“Together with the rest of my team, today’s appointees 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,” Harris said in a statement.
Former colleagues describe Flournoy as a no-nonsense operative who has both policy and political chops. Matt McKenna, who was Bill Clinton’s spokesperson from 2007 to 2015, noted the historic nature of Harris' candidacy and said Flournoy will skillfully manage competing demands for her time.
“(Harris) represents so many things to so many people, and they’re all going to want some of her time. She needs someone who can honor the historic nature of her candidacy and her victory and her place in the world," he said.
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Harris has regularly joined President-elect Joe Biden and offered remarks at briefings on the economy, the coronavirus and health care since the two won the November election. The transition team has yet to announce whether she'll focus on any specific issues or initiatives.
Flournoy has never held a position with Harris. But Minyon Moore, another former Clinton aide and close friend of Flournoy's, is assisting Harris with staffing during the transition. It's unclear if any of Harris' former Senate staff or longtime political advisers will join the vice president's office.