There are even more black people working in the newly inaugurated administration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris than at any other time in U.S history. And this time around, an unprecedented number of Nigerian-Americans are on the list of these black people in the Biden administration.
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The 3 Americans of Nigerian origin who also assumed office in different capacities as Joe Biden was inaugurated on 20th January are Funmi Olorunnipa Badejo, Wale Adeyemo, and Osaremen Okolo.
Below are a few other things you may not have known about these Nigerian-American:
Funmi Olorunnipa Badejo
Prior to her appointment to the new administration, Funmi Olorunnipa Badejo was Associate Counsel to Biden.
She was also General Counsel of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus crisis, chaired by House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn.
Olorunnipa began her legal career as a legal associate with the law firm of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP. She was also Legal Counsel at Palantir Technologies Inc.
Originally a native of Florida, Olorunnipa Badejo has been living in Washington D.C with her husband and son and working in the same city for some time. After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, she also attended Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and the University of Florida.
Her prior government service includes serving as Counsel for Policy to the Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Ethics Counsel at the White House Counsel’s Office and Attorney Advisor at the Administrative Conference of the United States during the Obama-Biden administration.
In essence, this is not her first outing at the White House.
Wale Adeyemo was appointed to serve in Biden’s cabinet as Deputy Treasury Secretary. Prior to his current appointment, he was a senior international economic adviser and also a Deputy Chief of Staff in the Barack Obama administration.
Adeyemo was born in Nigeria in 1981 but he migrated with his parents to California as a baby.
Adeyemo is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and Yale Law School.
At Yale, he was the co-director, project on law and education. He was an editor for the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution from 2008 to 2009.
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With Adeyemo’s extensive experience working at the Treasury department, Adeyemo was also Obama’s chief negotiator for the macroeconomic policy provisions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership while also doubling as the first Chief of Staff of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Post-government, he served as Senior Adviser, for two years, in the private sector at BlackRock before joining the Obama Foundation in 2019 as its president.
He sits on the boards of Golden State Opportunity Foundation, Aspen Strategy Group, among others.
Osaremen Okolo, 26, is among those selected to work with Biden.
A daughter of Nigerians who immigrated to the United States. Okolo was born and raised in Massachusetts. She went on to study at Harvard College.
Before serving on the Biden-Harris Transition domestic policy team, Okolo was Senior Health Policy Advisor to U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois. She was credited to have helped draft, negotiated, and managed the Congresswoman’s legislation, oversight, and policy across comprehensive healthcare and public health agenda which recently focused on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Okolo had also served as Legislative Aide for Health Policy on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labour, and Pensions (HELP) for Ranking Member of the Senate, Patty Murray of Washington.
She was appointed to serve as COVID-19 Policy Advisor and a member of the COVID-19 Response Team and will be working with top health professionals in the country to stem the tide of the pandemic.
This is not an exhaustive list of Nigerians who are high-flying in other climes where they have found a new home. Nigeria can only hope that the skills and experience of these professionals will be put to crucial use in the years to come.
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