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3 Latinos among first chosen for Biden White House senior staff

Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon and Anthony Bernal are all alumni of President Barack Obama’s administration.
Image: US-VOTE-BIDEN-POLITICS
The White House on Nov. 8, 2020.Alex Edelman / AFP - Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has named three Latinos to be part of his White House senior staff, all alumni of the Obama-Biden administration.

The three were announced Tuesday along with others who are the first picks for Biden’s senior staff after he takes office in January.

President Donald Trump has refused to concede the election, but Biden has moved forward with a transition, as a president-elect usually does, to be ready to take office when Trump’s term ends next year.

Biden has picked Julie Chávez Rodriguez, a deputy campaign manager, as director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, a job previously held by Cecilia Muñoz when she was appointed as the highest ranking Latina in the Obama White House. Muñoz is serving on Biden’s transition team.

Julie Chavez Rodriguez, former White House Deputy Director of Public Engagement under the Obama Administration. Chavez Rodriguez is the granddaughter of civil rights icon Cesar Chavez.White House Photo

Chávez Rodriguez, the civil rights leader César Chávez's granddaughter, had served on Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign as the national political director and the traveling chief of staff. During the Obama administration, she was special assistant to the president and the senior deputy director in the Office of Public Engagement. She also has worked at the Department of the Interior. She is a California native of Mexican descent who graduated from the University of California, Berkeley.

Two Latinos were named to serve in the office of Jill Biden, who will be the nation’s first lady.

Anthony Bernal, her former chief of staff during the campaign and a deputy campaign manager, will serve as her senior adviser. He has worked for the Biden family for more than a decade. A native of Arizona and a graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso, Bernal worked under President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore and also has held several positions in the private sector, including in international relations at Coca-Cola Co. and AARP.

Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon, a partner in the global law firm Winston & Strawn, was named chief of staff to Jill Biden. Her law firm bio says she focuses her legal work on complex commercial litigation, regulatory enforcement and transnational issues.

In the Obama administration, she served as the U.S. ambassador to Uruguay and as a deputy assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere. She developed security and rule of law strategies for Central America and the Caribbean. She served on the board of the Columbia Law School and is on the board of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law.

"For my Chief of Staff, it was important to find someone with deep experience and an understanding of government. I wanted someone with heart and a passion for public service, " Jill Biden said about Reynoso in a statement to NBC News. "I found all of that and more in Julissa — an accomplished diplomat, legal expert, and strategist. We are living through an unparalleled time of uncertainty, but I know that, with her leadership in my office, we will be able to make a difference for so many Americans.”

A native of the Dominican Republic, Reynoso migrated to the U.S. when she was 7 and grew up in the Bronx. She is a graduate of Harvard University, the University of Cambridge and the Columbia Law School.

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