US President Joe Biden has appointed Indo-American lawyer and rights activist Kiran Ahuja to head the Office of Personnel Management, a federal agency that manages more than two million U.S. civil servants.
If confirmed by the Senate, Ahuja, 49, appointed on Tuesday, would become the first Indian-American to hold that prominent position in the US government.
Ahuja was Chief of Staff to the Director of the United States Bureau of Personnel Management from 2015 to 2017. She has over two decades of leadership experience in the public service and the nonprofit / philanthropic sector.
Ahuja is currently the CEO of Philanthropy Northwest, a regional network of philanthropic institutions.
She began her career as a civil rights lawyer at the US Department of Justice, filing school desegregation cases and filing the department’s first student racial harassment case.
From 2003 to 2008, Ahuja was the founding executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, an advocacy and membership organization.
During the Obama-Biden administration, she spent six years as executive director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, leading efforts to increase access to services , federal resources and programs for underserved Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs).
Ahuja grew up in Savannah, Georgia, as a young Indian immigrant in the wake of the civil rights era, and received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Spelman College and a law degree from the University of Georgia.
The Washington Post said Ahuja would have a mandate to reverse former President Donald Trump’s public service policy, which he and his top aides have often ridiculed as a “deep state.” democratic bureaucrats.
Many agencies lost experts in various fields during the Trump era, and Biden is committed to revitalizing the workforce, the daily reported.
Congressman Gerry Connolly, Chair of the House Government Operations Subcommittee, welcomed Ahuja’s appointment.
“Ahuja’s years of leadership experience and his knowledge of the OPM are essential to rebuild an agency that was targeted for elimination in the last administration,” he said.
“Ahuja is a well-known and expert leader who will instill stability and confidence in OPM by recruiting, hiring, retaining and retiring our 2.8 million federal employees. I look forward to its early confirmation from the Senate, and then the hard work of transforming OPM into the human resources and leadership training organization our nation needs to be, ”said Connolly.
President Biden made an excellent choice in his appointment of Ahuja to the post of director of the OPM, said Congresswoman Judy Chu.
“With over two decades of experience serving the government, not-for-profit and philanthropic sectors, Kiran is uniquely qualified to lead the OPM at this critical juncture as we work to build a federal workforce that reflects all the diversity of our country, ”she said.
“As a former chief of staff to the director of OPM and former executive director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders under the Obama administration, she will bring wealth to OPM. knowledge and expertise that will enable him to hit the ground running on day one, ”added Chu.
Max Stier, President and CEO of the Public Service Partnership, said Ahuja was a civic-minded leader and an exceptional choice for this important position.
His outstanding qualifications include more than two decades of nonprofit and public service leadership, including at the OPM and the White House, and experience in solving human capital issues through innovation and collaboration, a he noted.
In a statement, American Federation of Government employees said Ahuja brings a wealth of federal personnel experience and that her record in advocating for women of color is reason to be optimistic about the fact. that it would make it a priority to reverse the active undermining of the previous administration. diversity and inclusion efforts across government.
“Ahuja has the knowledge and experience OPM needs to guide human resource policy for the federal workforce. Most importantly, it is committed to protecting the non-partisan public service and ensuring that it reflects the diversity of the United States, ”said National Treasury Employee Union President Tony Reardon.
“Under the Trump administration, the agency has been constantly disrupted by outside efforts to dismantle and dismantle it, to the detriment of federal employees who rely on OPM for independence and the management of important federal employee programs.
“We believe this appointment will result in continued professional leadership at OPM, which is committed to protecting its unique role in the administration of federal retirement programs and other human resource management priorities,” he said. he declares.
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