HLS and the new administration: Whom will Obama choose?


Chris Lu
Julius Genachowski

The election of Barack Obama ’91 has unleashed a flurry of speculation over who will be considered for the new President’s administration. Many of the choices will be made from among the horde of prominent liberals at the nation’s top universities, and it comes as no surprise that one of the heaviest concentrations of these or and one of the greatest potential sources of these individuals – and one of the greatest sources of potential Obama administration appointments – is Harvard. In the coming weeks, the Record will look at HLS faculty and alumni who stand to serve as members of the Obama White House staff, his Cabinet, and as part of a future Supreme Court. In the first part of this ongoing series, we profile the “known knowns” – HLS alums Obama has already appointed as members of his transition team, and who are undoubtedly destined for greater things to come.

Cassandra Butts ’91

Position in Transition: General Counsel (vetting possible appointees for ethical conflicts)

Most recently: Domestic Policy adviser, Obama-Biden campaign

Previously: Butts met Obama at HLS’ financial aid office where, she told PBS, they “bonded over the experience of filling out the paperwork that would put us in debt to Harvard for years to come”. After law school, she worked as a senior adviser to Missouri Representative Dick Gephardt and as Senior Vice President for Domestic Policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.

Other education: Bachelors from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Christopher Edley ’78

Position in Transition: Advisory Board member

Most recently: Dean of Berkeley Law School

Previously: A professor at HLS for 23 years, Edley co-founded the Harvard Civil Rights Project, and has been a close advisor to high-ranking Democrats for decades. He worked on the Carter administration’s domestic policy staff, as senior economic advisor to the presidential campaign of Michael Dukakis ’60, and as associate director for economics and government at the Office for Management and Budget during the Clinton administration. From 1995 to 2005, he served on the bipartisan U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Other education: Bachelors from Swarthmore, masters in public policy from the Kennedy School

Michael Froman ’91

Position in Transition: Advisory Board member (vetting Treasury Secretary choices)

Most recently: CEO, CitiInsurance

Previously: Froman served as Chief of Staff to Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin from 1997 to 1999. Previously, he worked as the Treasury’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Eurasia and the Middle East, which included work on the economic component of the Dayton Peace Accords ending the Bosnian War. Before that, Froman was director for International Economic Affairs on the National Economic and National Security Councils. He has also worked on the ABA’s legal assistance program in Albania, and for the Forward Studies Unit of the European Commission.

Other education: Bachelors in public and international affairs from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, doctorate in international relations from Oxford

Julius Genachowski ’91

Position in Transition: Advisory Board member

Most recently: Advising Obama-Biden campaign on internet issues

Previously: At HLS, Genachowski was co-editor of notes during Obama’s presidency of the Law Review. Immediately after law school, he clerked for Justices Souter and Brennan and worked on Capitol Hill, first for the Congressional committee investigating the Iran-Contra affair and then for New York Senator Charles Schumer. More recently, he served in a number of executive positions at IAC/InterActive Corp., before which and was chief counsel to FCC chairman Reed Hundt. Genachowski has also been an active entrepreneur, founding several internet companies.

Other education: Bachelors from Columbia

Chris Lu ’91

Position in Transition: Executive Director

Most recently: Legislative Director, Obama Senate office

Previously: After HLS, Lu worked with the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in the House of Representatives, moving into Senator John Kerry’s office just in time to advise him during his presidential bid. Lu returned to the Senate to work for Obama, staying in D.C. in order to run the office during the Senator’s campaign.

Other education: Bachelors from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School

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