Dilawar Syed, President Biden’s nominee for Deputy Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA), has been appointed Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs at the State Department. “Syed brings a strong background in business and entrepreneurship, having built global enterprises in the fields of technology, healthcare, and business services,” the State Department announcement said. “Syed will also draw on his experience working at the federal and state levels to advance commercial and economic policies that benefit American workers and businesses,” the announcement added.
Sharing the State Department announcement Gautam Raghavan, director of Presidential Personnel at The White House, tweeted that he’s grateful to Syed for agreeing to serve in the role, while his nomination for deputy administrator for SBA is pending before the Senate. “Proud to call this talented leader & public servant a colleague,” he tweeted.
Syed was renominated to the SBA post early this year after Republicans blocked his nomination five times last year, and repeatedly denied the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship the quorum necessary to forward the tech entrepreneur’s nomination. Since his first nomination last March, the Pakistani American has been receiving resistance from the GOP members on the committee who have been coming up with specious excuses for not voting on his nomination. If confirmed, Syed would become the highest-ranking Muslim official in the administration.
At the last meeting on Nov. 17, “every Republican member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship failed to attend a scheduled business meeting to consider Syed’s nomination,” said a press release issued by the committee. The members’ refusal to attend the meeting once again denied the committee the quorum necessary under the Senate rules to forward the nomination,” the press release said, adding that it was also “unable to consider two bipartisan disaster assistance bills.
Syed’s nomination is backed by more than 230 civic, government, higher education, and business leaders and organization, including former Republican New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Black Chambers, the Small Business Investor Alliance, Small Business Roundtable, the Anti-Defamation League, and the American Jewish Congress.
In a series of tweets, Syed said he will continue to pursue his Senate confirmation. “Over the course of last year, a diverse coalition has stood up in my support. I am grateful for the passionate advocacy of so many leaders.”
A technology entrepreneur based in California’s Silicon Valley, the Pakistan-born Syed has built and led global organizations in various leadership roles. He served on President Obama’s White House Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) and chaired the White House Initiative on AAPIs’ Economic Growth Committee.
He was a surrogate in President Obama’s 2012 campaign and served as a member of Obama for America’s 2008 National Finance Committee. He was a member of the then California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ Policy Transition team, and in 2008 served as national co-chair of the DNC’s South Asian Leadership Council as an appointee of Gov. Howard Dean.
In the Obama administration, he played an active role in promoting the State Department’s Global Entrepreneurship Program and connecting Silicon Valley innovators with emerging entrepreneurial ecosystems. As the founding Chair of the California Entrepreneurship Task Force, Special Representative Syed drove inclusive entrepreneurship that bridged coastal regions with the state’s rural heartland and helped small businesses struggling with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Syed is the co-founder of the AAPI Victory Fund, the first Super PAC of its kind which focuses on mobilizing Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) eligible voters and moving them to the ballot box.
He holds an M.B.A. from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and earned a B.A. in Economics and Computer Science from The University of Texas at Austin.