- Having served as the CEO of Biden’s presidential campaign, Varghese now takes up the unprecedented challenge of orchestrating the Inauguration events during a pandemic.
President-elect Joe Biden has appointed Indian American Maju Varghese, who steered their electoral campaign, to be the executive director of their Inauguration – the swearing-in ceremony and all the festivities that surround it.
Varghese played an important part in the successful Biden-Harris campaign as its chief operating officer, running the logistics for the nationwide, multi-million-dollar effort to elect Biden, mobilizing tens of thousands of staff and volunteers. Varghese also served as a senior adviser to the former Vice President.
The announcement on Nov 30, makes Varghese the fifth Indian American to be appointed to an important position by the incoming Biden-Harris administration.
Earlier on Monday, Biden had formally announced the nomination of Neera Tanden, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for American Progress, a center-left think tank, as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Tanden, a long-time friend and former adviser to Hillary Clinton, is one of the most influential Indian American politicos in Washington, D.C. She has served in both the Obama and Bill Clinton administrations, as well as on Democratic presidential campaigns. She was one of the principles who drafted the Affordable Care Bill under the Obama administration. The Office of Management and Budget oversees the performance of federal agencies, and administers the federal budget.
Varghese had also worked for former President Barack Obama as his special assistant and deputy director of advance, a position in which he worked on organizing his travel in the US and abroad.
One of those assignments was organizing Obama’s 2015 historic trip to India for the Republic Day celebrations.
Varghese later became assistant to the President for administration and management and oversaw the White House complex.
Varghese was born in the U.S. to parents who immigrated from Thiruvalla, Kerala. He is a lawyer by training.
The inauguration of Biden as President and Harris as Vice President is slated to take place on January 20, 2021, as mandated by the Constitution.
Tony Allen, who was named the CEO of the inauguration committee, told IANS: “This year’s inauguration will look different amid the pandemic, but we will honor the American inaugural traditions and engage Americans across the country while keeping everybody healthy and safe.”
More than a million have come to some previous inaugurations, which may be virtual this year.
Congress is officially in charge of the formal swearing-in portion of the inauguration and has the bipartisan Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies to hold the ceremony at the Capitol, the Congress complex.
The current committee is headed by Republican Senator Roy Blunt and includes Democrat Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But the winning presidential candidate sets up their own committees to assist with it and to organize other celebrations and raise funds for the inaugural events.
The other Indian Americans named to important positions by Biden include former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who was appointed co-chair of his Covid-19 task force last month along with Dr. Atul Gawande and Dr. Celine Gounder, in one of his first acts after the media proclaimed him the winner of the presidential election.
Two other Indian Americans who were named to head the committees in charge of transition to the new administration were Arun Majumdar for the Department of Energy and Kiran Ahuja for the Office of Personnel Management.
In addition, 19 Indian-Americans were appointed to the various transition teams.
(Top photo: Maju Varghese and his son with former Vice President Joe Biden)
Anu Ghosh immigrated to the U.S. from India in 1999. Back in India she was a journalist for the Times of India in Pune for 8 years and a graduate from the Symbiosis Institute of Journalism and Communication. In the U.S., she obtained her Masters and PhD. in Communications from The Ohio State University. Go Buckeyes! She has been involved in education for the last 15 years, as a professor at Oglethorpe University and then Georgia State University. She currently teaches Special Education at Oak Grove Elementary. She is also a mom to two precocious girls ages 11 and 6.