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Former Biden Administration Official Maju Varghese Named CEO of National Endowment for Democracy

Former Biden Administration Official Maju Varghese Named CEO of National Endowment for Democracy

  • The 43-year-old Indian American who recently resigned as deputy assistant to the president and director of the White House Military Office was executive director of the 59th Presidential Inauguration Committee.

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has named Maju Varghese as its new chief operating officer, the independent, nonprofit, grant-making foundation announced on Feb. 3. The 43-year-old Indian American most recently served as deputy assistant to the president and director of the White House Military Office. In his role, he oversaw nearly 3,000 military and civilian personnel who ensure essential services for the daily and worldwide functioning of the presidency. 

An Obama administration alumni, Varghese served as the chief operating officer and senior advisor for the Biden campaign, and then as executive director of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. He takes over from Barbara Haig, deputy to the NED president for policy and strategy, who has served as interim COO during a time of rapid organizational change.

After his appointment, Varghese tweeted saying he’s excited to join NED “as it continues its mission to strengthen democratic institutions around the world during this period of growth and change at NED.”

In a statement, NED President and CEO Damon Wilson said Varghese’s “long track record of operational, managerial, and legal experience, and his demonstrated success working in complex, demanding, high-profile roles will be a great asset at a time of rapid organizational growth and change at the Endowment..” 

As the executive director of the 59th Presidential Inauguration Committee, Varghese successfully directed the inauguration through the coronavirus pandemic and the threat of attacks after the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. The events included the swearing-in ceremony and a star-studded “Celebrate America” concert with high-profile celebrities and hosted by actor Tom Hanks.

Before heading the inauguration, he played an important part in the Biden-Harris campaign as its chief operating officer. In that role, he ran the logistics for the nationwide campaign, mobilizing tens of thousands of staff and volunteers. He also served as a senior adviser to the former vice president.

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During the Obama-Biden administration, he served as President Obama’s special assistant and the deputy director of advance, a position in which he worked on organizing his travel in the U.S. and abroad., including organizing Obama’s 2015 trip to India for the Republic Day celebrations. He later became assistant to the president for administration and management overseeing the White House complex in the Obama administration.  

Varghese was born in the U.S. to parents who immigrated from Thiruvalla, Kerala. It was his mother, Saroja Varghese, who first landed alone in this country as a nurse in 1972 after working with the Indian Air Force. She was later joined by her husband and elder daughter, Manju. 

He studied political science and economics at the University of Massachusetts, and got his judicial law degree from Hofstra University in New York, according to his LinkedIn profile. He met his wife, Julie, when they were both working for the former presidential candidate Al Gore’s election campaign. The couple has a 14-year-old son, Evan. 

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