Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Think Tankers are Flooding Into the Biden Administration

Please note: This post is being constantly updated (last update was April 14, 2021). 

The revolving door is spinning fast as the Biden Administration continues to hire think tankers from a wide swath of largely center-left Washington think tanks.

Three think tank presidents have already been tapped by the Biden Administration (Heather Boushey and Bill Burns are already in place, while Neera Tanden has had to bow out), and a number of think tankers have been named to various senior positions, including:

  • Antony Blinken, who was a director at the University of Pennsylvania's Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Public Engagement, is the new Secretary of State.
  • Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, a Distinguished Fellow in Residence for Economic Studies at the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution, has been tapped to be Biden's Treasury Secretary.
  • Jake Sullivan, a former Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, was named as Biden's National Security Advisor.
  • John Kerry, a Visiting Distinguished Statesman at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, was named as as the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. 
  • Jen Psaki, former Vice President for Communications and Strategy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, was named as White House Press Secretary.
  • Denis McDonough, who was a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, serves as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.  He was also a Senior Fellow at CAP from 2004-2006.
  • Amanda Sloat of Brookings named as NSC Senior Director for European Affairs.
  • CSIS's Kathleen Hicks named as Deputy Defense Secretary.
  • Susan Rice, a former Brookings Institution fellow and former members of CNAS's Board of Advisors, is the Director of the Domestic Policy Council (DPC).
  • Colin Kahl, who was formerly a Senior Fellow at CNAS and a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) International Affairs Fellow, has been named as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.  He was also a strategic adviser at the Penn Biden Center.
  • Kurt Campbell, the co-founder of CNAS, has been named for the top Asia position at the NSC. 
  • Avril Haines, a former member of CNAS's board of directors, in the Director of National Intelligence (DNI).  She was also a Nonresident Senior Fellow at Brookings.
  • Susanna Blume, Director of CNAS’s Defense Program, will serve as Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Defense Performing the Duties of the Director, Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE).
  • Lauren Rosenberger, Senior Fellow and Director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund (GMF), has been named as Senior Director for China at the NSC.
  • Elizabeth Rosenberg, Director of CNAS’s program on Energy, Economics and Security, will serve as Counselor to the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury.
  • Rush Doshi, who was Director of the Brookings China Strategy Initiative, will work on China affairs at the NSC.
  • Julian Gewirtz, a Senior Fellow for China Studies at CFR, will become China director at the NSC.
  • Atlantic Council board member Wendy Sherman named as No. 2 person at State Department.  She also served of CNAS's Board of Advisers.
  • Former CNAS CEO Victoria Nuland named as No. 3 at State.
  • Emily Horne, Vice President of Communications at Brookings, was named as an NSC spokesperson.
  • Peter Harrell, who has served as an Adjunct Senior Fellow at CNAS, was named as Senior Director for International Economics and Competitiveness at the NSC.
  • Caitlin Durkovich, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council's Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, was named as Senior Director for Resilience and Response at the NSC.
  • Tarun Chhabra, who was previously a Fellow with the Project on International Order and Strategy at Brookings, was named as Senior Director for Technology and National Security at the NSC.
  • Andrea Kendall-Taylor, who was a Senior Fellow and Director of the Transatlantic Security Program at CNAS, was named as Senior Director for Russia and Central Asia and the NSC. [But she is apparently remaining at CNAS.]
  • Shanthi Kalathil, a Senior Director at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and former associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, was named as Coordinator for Democracy and Human Rights at the NSC. 
  • Cara Abercrombie, who was a former Visiting Scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has been named as Senior Director for Defense at the NSC. 
  • Bonnie Jenkins, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at Brookings, has been named as Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Affairs.
  • Wally Adeyemo, a former Non-Resident Senior Adviser at CSIS, was named as Deputy Secretary of Treasury.
  • Jennifer Molina, was has worked at the Center for American Progress (CAP) and its Action Fund, was named as Senior Director of Coalitions Media.
  • Michael Fuchs, a Senior Fellow at CAP, has been named as Deputy Chief of Staff to the Vice President.
  • Cecilia Rouse, Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisors (CEA), was a member of the Board of Trustees at CFR.
  • Jared Bernstein, formerly of CBPP and EPI, was named as a member of the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA).
  • Reema Dodin, a former term member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), was named as Deputy Director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs.
  • Evan Ryan, who was named as Biden's Cabinet Secretary, is a member of CFR.
  • Joelle Gamble, a former Senior Advisor to the President and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute, has been named as Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy.
  • Thomas Zimmerman, who worked at the Pacific Council on International Policy and Center on International Cooperation, and used to work as visiting scholar at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, was named as Special Assistant to the President for Presidential Personnel.
  • Sonia Aggarwal, who co-founded the think tank Energy Innovation, has been named as Biden's senior advisor for climate policy and innovation.
  • Jeffrey Prescott, a Senior Fellow at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, will be deputy to the US Ambassador to the UN.
  • Ely Ratner of CNAS will be special assistant to the Secretary of Defense.
  • Michael Chase, a political scientist at RAND Corp., will be Deputy Assistant Secretary (China) at the Department of Defense.
  • Michael Linden, a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, will be a Senior Advisor to the Director of the OMB.
  • Topher Spiro, a health policy researcher at CAP, will be head of health programs at the OMB.
  • Jason Leibenluft, a Senior Fellow at CAP, will be Counselor to the Treasury Secretary.
  • Ben Miller, Vice President for Postsecondary Education at CAP, will be temporary Senior Adviser to Sheila Nix, who was named chief of staff to Education Secretary nominee Miguel Cardona.
  • Salman Ahmed, who was a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, will be Director of Policy Planning at the State Department.
  • Derek Chollet, Executive Vice President for Security and Defense Policy at the German Marshall Fund, will be State Department Counselor.  He has also been a fellow at CNAS, Brookings, and CSIS.
  • Kayla Williams, Director of CNAS’s Military, Veterans and Society Program, will be Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs.
  • David Cohen, an Adjunct Senior Fellow at CNAS, will be Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
  • Avia Aron-Dine, who was VP for health policy at CBPP, is now executive associate director of the OMB.
  • Aparna Mathur, formerly a Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), announced in late Jan. 2021 that she will continue to work at the CEA in the Biden Administration.
  • Louis Lauter of CSIS is going to the Department of Defense.
  • Melissa Dalton of CSIS is going to the Department of Defense.
  • Mieke Eoyang, the SVP for National Security at Third Way, will be Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense for Cyber Policy.
  • Jenny Yang of the Urban Institute will be Director of OFCCP at the Department of Labor.
  • Desiree Cormier Smith, who was a member of the 2019 class of Next Generation National Security Leaders Fellowship at CNAS, will be Senior Advisor in the Bureau of International Organizations at the State Department.
  • Zach Vertin, a Nonresident Fellow at Brookings, will become Senior Advisor to the UN Ambassador.
  • Jung Pak of Brookings will be Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian & Pacific Affairs.
  • Mira Rapp-Hooper, a former Senior Fellow for Asia Studies at CFR and formerly with CNAS and CSIS, will be a Senior Advisor on China in the Policy Planning shop at the State Department.
  • Brad Setser, a CFR fellow, will join the administration in a trade-related role, according to Politico, which notes that he has been a major part of the transition team's decision to shift China trade policy away from emphasizing China's opening its capital account and more toward worker interests.
  • Kimberly Jackson of the RAND Corporation has become the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Readiness.
  • Stephanie Leutert, who as formerly a Research Associate at CFR, will be working on migration issues at the State Department.
  • Ian Wallace of the German Marshall Fund, will be a Senior Advisor to the Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues at the State Department.
  • Ellison Laskowsky, a former German Marshall Fund Senior Fellow, will join the State Department's Policy Planning staff.
  • Steve Ricchetti, who briefly served as Managing Director of the Penn Biden Center, is Counselor to President Biden.  He also served on the board of CAP.
  • Samantha Vinograd, who was a senior adviser at the Biden Institute, will be Senior Counselor for National Security at DHS.
  • Jonathan Finer, who was an adjunct fellow at CFR, serves as Deputy National Security Adviser.
  • Matt Lee-Ashley, who was previously a fellow at CAP, will be Senior Director for Lands and Interim Chief of Staff at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
  • Luke Knittig, who was a senior director of comms at the McCain Institute, is now the Washington-based comms and external relations lead for Power Africa at USAID.
  • Daleep Singh, a former adjunct senior fellow at CNAS, is a Deputy National Security Adviser.
  • Hady Amr, a former adjunct senior fellow at CNAS, is Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israeli-Palestinian Affairs.
  • Rebecca Zimmerman, a former researcher at the RAND Corporation, has become Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia.
  • Melanie Hart, a former Senior Fellow at CAP, will be China policy coordinator serving the undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment.
  • Shannon Ricchetti, an alum of the Aspen Institute and the daughter of White House Counselor Steve Ricchetti, is now deputy associate director of the office of the Social Secretary at the White House.
  • David Livingston, who was a Nonresident Senior Fellow at Atlantic Council, is joining the State Department to handle the intersection of climate and trade issues.
  • Ariane Tabatabai, who was formerly at the German Marshall Fund, is now a Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.
  • Jamie Fly, a Senior Fellow and Senior Advisor to the President at GMF, is returning to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) as president and CEO.
  • Julianne ("Julie") Smith, a former Adjunct Senior Fellow at CNAS, has joined the State Department as a senior adviser.
  • Janelle Jones, who was an economic analyst at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), is the chief economist at the Department of Labor.
  • Lindsey Ford, a Fellow at Brookings, has been selected to serve as Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and South East Asia.
  • Mara Karlin, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at Brookings, has been selected to serve as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.
  • Molly Montgomery, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at Brookings, has been selected to serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.
  • Richard Nephew, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at Brookings, has been selected to serve as Deputy Special Envoy for Iran.
  • Terri Tanielian, a Senior Behavioral Scientist at RAND Corp., has been named Special Assistant to the President for Veterans Affairs.
  • Daniel Benaim, a former Senior Fellow at CAP, joined the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State.
  • Nellie Liang, formerly a Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at Brookings, is the new Under Secretary for Domestic Finance at the Treasury Department.
  • Saharra Griffin, a CAP alum, is now Special Assistant to the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers.
  • Brian Deese, head of Biden's National Economic Council (NEC), was a CAP senior analyst from 2003-2005.
  • Carmel Martin, Deputy Director of the White House's Domestic Policy Council (DPC) for economic mobility, was an EVP at CAP as well as a distinguished fellow. 
  • Kelly Magsamen, chief of staff to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, served at CAP as vice president for national security and international policy.
  • Jacob Leibenluft, a former CAP senior fellow, is Counselor to US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
  • Esther Olavarria, a former CAP senior fellow, is deputy director of the DPC for immigration.
  • Sam Berger, who served as VP for democracy and government reform and as a senior advisor at CAP, is director of strategic operations and policy for the White House COVID-19 Response Team.
  • Tom Jawetz, who was CAP's VP for immigration policy, is deputy general counsel at the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Christine Wormuth of the RAND Corp. will likely be nominated as the Army Secretary.
  • Robert Santos, Urban Institute Vice President, will be nominated as director of the Census Bureau.

 On April 12, it was reported that the Biden Administration was considering appointing Matthew Rojansky, head of the Wilson Center's Kennan Institute, as Russia director of the NSC.

The Trump Administration pulled its think tank talent largely from policy shops beginning with the letter "H" - such as the Heritage Foundation, Hoover Institution, and Hudson Institute.  And those are the think tanks that are now scooping up former Trump officials.

Elaine Chao, who was the Transportation Secretary in the Trump Administration, is returning to the Hudson Institute as a Distinguished Fellow.  And Trump's Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is also joining Hudson as a Distinguished Fellow.

Alex Wong, who served as Deputy Special Representative for North Korea and the Deputy Assistant Secretary for North Korea in Trump's State Department, is now a Senior Fellow at Hudson. 

Amb. Marshall Billingslea, who most recently was former President Trump's chief arms control negotiator, is joining the Hudson Institute.

Three of Trump's Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Chad Wolf, Ken Cuccinelli, and Mark Morgan, have joined the Heritage Foundation as fellows.

Former Vice President Mike Pence has also joined Heritage as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow.

Tim Murtaugh, who was a communications director for the Trump campaign, is now a visiting fellow for communications at Heritage.

David Schenker and Andrew Tabler, who both worked at the State Department in the Trump Administration, have returned to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP).

John Costello, who resigned from a Commerce Department position in the Trump Administration, has joined CNAS as an Adjunct Senior Fellow in the Technology and National Security Program.

Brent McIntosh, who was Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs in the Trump Administration, is now an Adjunct Senior Fellow at CFR.

Justin Muzinich, former Deputy Treasury Secretary in the Trump Administration, is joining CFR.

Matt Pottinger, who was the Deputy National Security Advisor in the Trump Administration, is now a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Trump's Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson has started his own think tank.  He follows in the footsteps of Trump's OMB chief Russ Vought, who is launching his own think tank and sister lobbying arm.

The Biden Administration is pulling its talent from what Think Tank Watch calls the "ABC" think tanks - including Atlantic Council, Brookings, CAP, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, CFR, CNAS, and CSIS.

Business Insider reported in March that CAP has stocked the Biden Administration with 56 policy wonks.

The American Prospect asks what happens to Biden's personal think tank now that he is president.

Think Tank Watch will continue to track all revolving door movements as think tankers move into the incoming administration and as Trump Administration officials seek employment at think tanks.

Know of any names not on the list?  Please email tips to Think Tank Watch.