June 21, 2024
"Absolutely, I said yes right on the spot"

“Absolutely, I said yes right on the spot”

From left: Hartina Flournoy, Rohini Kosoglu, and Nancy McEldowney.
From left: Hartina Flournoy, Rohini Kosoglu, and Nancy McEldowney. Harvard Kennedy School/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris continues to construct her key team of senior staffers who will accompany her to the White House, announcing Thursday the hiring of three top roles including chief of staff.

The staffers — all of whom are women and two of whom are people of color — highlight the incoming administration’s commitment to diversity.

Harris tapped Hartina Flournoy, a Black woman, as her incoming chief of staff. She currently serves as chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton.

While no official policy designations have been set, sources say Harris wants to be a part of the administration’s rebuilding of small and medium businesses stripped by the pandemic, in part because they disproportionately affect women and people of color.

The vice president-elect is also eyeing a role in the administration’s education platform — as many children without proper access to broadband during the pandemic have fallen behind.

Harris has long focused on the welfare of children throughout her prosecutorial career, in the Senate and during her own presidential campaign. Her first major policy proposal last year during the campaign pledged to boost teacher pay.

Over time, she’ll look to solidify her foreign policy and national security accolades, leaning on her four years of experience as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, a source adds.

That is in addition to Harris’ possible role in any criminal justice and climate justice reform, drawing on her years as California’s attorney general and San Francisco district attorney.

The arsenal of key staff that Harris is surrounding herself with will be essential in securing the work that rounds out her record.

For her part, Flournoy has prior relationships with many top Biden advisers, having worked with them in her different capacities in Washington.

McEldowney, a veteran in the foreign policy arena, has deep ties to the community as well. Kosgoulu, who spent many years on Capitol Hill, could serve as an emissary for Harris who, once inaugurated, will become the president of the Senate.

But the most important relationship of them all, is the one Harris builds with the President-elect.

“The first obligation is to do what is asked by the President of the United States,” Moore, who served as director of White House political affairs to Bill Clinton and watched his relationship to Gore flourish, said.