Who Is Neera Tanden?

Neera Tanden is a political consultant and current senior advisor and Staff Secretary for President Joe Biden. As a pioneer at the Center for American Progress, Tanden served as the organization's CEO and president from 2011 to 2021.

Key Takeaways

• Neera Tanden is a senior advisor and Staff Secretary for the Biden administration.

• Tanden served as president of the Center for American Progress from 2011 to 2021.

• She holds a Juris Doctor from Yale University.

• Tanden contributed to provisions of the Affordable Care Act during the Obama administration.

Early Life and Education

Neera Tanden was born on Sept. 10, 1970, in Bedford, Mass. She earned a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1992 and a law degree from Yale University in 1996. Tanden worked for the Democratic presidential campaigns of Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. 

Government Service

In 1997, Neera Tanden joined the Clinton White House staff and served as Associate Director for Domestic Policy, and senior policy advisor to the First Lady’s staff. She assisted Hillary Clinton and the Domestic Policy Council on issues like abortion, child care, education, and health reform.

Tanden was deputy campaign manager and policy director for Hillary Clinton during Clinton's successful run for state senator of New York in 2000. She served as Senator Hillary Clinton's legislative director until 2005.

In 2008, Neera Tanden acted as the director of domestic policy for the Obama-Biden presidential campaign. During the Obama administration, she served as a senior advisor for health reform at the Department of Health and Human Services where she worked on key provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

Center for American Progress

Neera Tanden is the former president and CEO of the Center for American Progress. A member since its founding in 2003 by John Podesta, Tanden served as CEO before assuming the role of president from 2011 to 2021.

The Center for American Progress is an independent, nonpartisan policy institute dedicated to improving the lives of all Americans through bold, progressive ideas. CAP tackles issues like climate change, women's issues, poverty, and gun violence prevention.

During Tanden's tenure as president, CAP received large donations from firms in the financial sector, private foundations, and current or former executives at Bain Capital, Blackstone, and Evercore. She oversaw contributions from Silicon Valley companies and foundations, including Facebook and founder Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropic organization.

Center For American Progress

The Center for American Progress is a Washington D.C.-based think tank founded by John Podesta, former White House Chief of Staff for President Bill Clinton, in 2003.

Office of Management and Budget

In November 2020, President Joe Biden nominated Neera Tanden, then president of the Center for American Progress, as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Under pressure and scrutiny, Tanden withdrew her nomination for the post in March 2021.

The OMB acts as the core of the federal government, executing the annual spending plan, setting fiscal and personnel policy for agencies, and overseeing the regulatory process across the executive branch. As OMB director, Tanden would have defined policies that affect every part of the economy.

Due to her leadership position at CAP, where Neera Tanden mingled with donors from Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and foreign entities, her nomination to the OMB post drew criticism from some progressives and advocates for accountability in government. Decisions at OMB have implications for a range of U.S. companies, dictating how much they pay in taxes, the barriers they face, and whether they benefit from new stimulus programs.

After Tanden withdrew her name for director of the OMB, President Biden named her as a senior advisor, and in October 2021, Staff Secretary.

What Is Neera Tanden's Link to WikiLeaks?

When CAP colleague John Podesta's emails were published on WikiLeaks, conversations revealed Tanden's criticism of Hillary Clinton.

What Is Neera Tanden's View of the U.S. Health Care Policy?

Tanden supports a multi-payer universal healthcare system and opposes single-payer healthcare.

How Has Neera Tanden Served During the COVID-19 Recovery Efforts?

Tanden served on New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy's Restart and Recovery Commission, tasked with preparing the state to reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bottom Line

Neera Tanden is regarded as a Democratic political consultant who has worked for the Clinton, Obama, and Biden administrations. She is well known for her work at the Center for American Progress, most notably as president, where she oversaw contributions from corporate and private donors.

Article Sources
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  1. American Progress. "CAP Founder John Podesta on Appointment of Neera Tanden."

  2. American Progress, "Issues."

  3. Washington Post. "Neera Tanden's Tenure at CAP Faces New Scrutiny."

  4. The White House. "Statement by President Joe Biden and Nominee for Director of the Office of Management Neera Tanden."

  5. Washington Post. "Neera Tanden is Named as the Next White House Staff Secretary for President Biden."

  6. The New York Times. "WikiLeaks Lays Bare a Clinton Insider's Cheers and Jeers."