« How Could a Delayed Trump-Biden Transition Disrupt the Education Department? | Main | How Biden Could Steer Education Spending Without Waiting on Congress »

Biden's Education Transition Team Heavy on Obama Officials and Union Staff


President-elect Joe Biden announced his transition team for the U.S. Department of Education that's intended to ensure a smooth handoff from President Donald Trump's administration.

The agency review team, made up of volunteers, is one of a list assigned to federal agencies across the government. Biden transition office announced the team's members on Tuesday.

The team appointed to guide education efforts includes representatives from teachers' unions, alumni from President Barack Obama's Education Department, and higher education officials.

The team will be led by Linda Darling-Hammond, the president of the California state education board and founder of the Learning Policy Institute, who also helped oversee Obama's education transition. Darling-Hammond had been rumored to be a possible Biden education secretary pick, but she told EdSource she wasn't interested in that role.

While the team is heavy on former Obama administration officials, it also includes Jessica Cardichon, the director of federal policy at the Learning Policy Institute and a former education aide to independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of Biden's key challengers for the Democratic nomination.

It also includes Pedro Rivera, the former Pennsylvania secretary of education whose name has been floated by education insiders as a possible choice for education secretary, and Norma Cantú, who was assistant secretary for civil rights at the education department during the Clinton administration. 

So far, the Trump administration hasn't formally acknowledged Biden's win. While that delay is not yet a pressing concern for the Education Department, according to people we've spoken with, that could change. 

Here are some notable K-12 names on the education team:

Obama Administration Alumni

  • Ary Amerikaner, a former deputy assistant secretary of education who currently works at Education Trust, a progressive think tank
  • Emma Vadehra, who previously served as chief of staff for Education Secretary Arne Duncan and now works at the Century Foundation, a left-leaning think tank
  • Roberto Rodriguez, the President and CEO of Teach Plus who served as an education policy aide in the Obama White House
  • Lindsay Dworkin, the former deputy assistant secretary for outreach at the Education Department who now works at the Alliance for Excellent Education, a K-12 advocacy group
  • Ruthanne Buck, a former advisor to Duncan and Education Secretary John King
  • Keia Cole, who worked in the counsel's office at the Obama Education Department and now works as the head of digital experience at MassMutual, an insurance company

Teachers' Union Representatives

  • Beth Antunez, deputy director of the American Federation of Teachers
  • Donna Harris-Aikens, senior director of education policy at the National Education Association
  • Shital Shah, manager of philanthropic engagement at AFT
  • Marla Ucelli-Kashyap, assistant to the president for educational issues at AFT

"These teams are composed of highly experienced and talented professionals with deep backgrounds in crucial policy areas across the federal government," Biden's transition office said in a statement. "The teams have been crafted to ensure they not only reflect the values and priorities of the incoming administration, but reflect the diversity of perspectives crucial for addressing America's most urgent and complex challenges."

You can read the full education transition team list here.

Don't miss another Politics K-12 post. Sign up here to get news alerts in your email inbox.

Follow us on Twitter @PoliticsK12And follow the Politics K-12 reporters @EvieBlad @Daarel and @AndrewUjifusa


Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Follow This Blog


Most Viewed on Education Week



Recent Comments

  • YARGI YAYINLARI: I¡¦m now not sure where you are getting your info, read more
  • stop smoking: you have an incredible blog here! would you wish to read more
  • web hosting: Campaign K-12: 'Only Bill Richardson Has a Bold Plan for read more
  • kpss: What is Taking place i am new to this, I read more
  • domy RzeszĂłw: Iˇ¦ve recently started a website, the information you offer on read more