Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team (UPDATE)

Yohannes Abraham, who is the first Ethiopian American to serve in a senior White House role served as Chief of Staff for the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs (Courtesy Photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 1st, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee in the 2020 presidential election, has hired Yohannes Abraham, a former Obama administration official, to oversee the day-to-day operation of his newly formed post-election transition team. The group led by former Delaware Sen. Ted Kaufman will focus on building a governing infrastructure in the event of a Biden victory in November.

According to NBC News Yohannes, who is the first Ethiopian American to serve in a senior White House role, “as chief of staff for the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, led by Valerie Jarrett. He also served as chief operating officer of the Obama Foundation before joining the faculty of the Harvard Kennedy School.”

“Given the nature of the challenges that will await (Biden) in January, I know how important it is that he selects the very best team,” Jarrett told NBC, adding of Abraham: “I can’t think of anybody more qualified to hit the ground running.”

At the end of his White House tenure four years ago Yohannes told Tadias in an interview that he credits his Ethiopian immigrant parents for instilling in him a sense of hard work and civic duty. “First and foremost, it’s my parents who are my mentors,” Yohannes told us.

“I think an important way for my generation to honor our parents and the foundation they have created for us is to be active, engaged citizens here in America. Think about it. Our parents moved to a new country, in most cases knowing no one, having nothing, and speaking little English.” He continued: They did so in the hopes of finding a better life for their families, and by and large they did. We are the beneficiaries of their choices, and we owe it to them to make the most of the opportunities they unlocked for us. We also owe it to our communities, and America writ large, to contribute to the diverse fabric of civic life. Doing so makes the country stronger, and it makes our community’s voice stronger within it.”

Yohannes also shared more about his drive to promote civic engagement and leadership adding that “as a newer immigrant community, we owe it to those who fought for justice in the country before we ever got here — Latino farmworkers, civil rights organizers, foot soldiers in the women’s suffrage movement, and so on — to be good stewards of the duty of citizenship. If a civil rights organizer could risk their life for the right to vote, what excuse do we have to not be first in line at the polls? What excuse do we have to be unregistered or apathetic? What excuse do we have to ignore the plight of other communities that may find themselves in need of allies in the face of injustice? To my mind, none. That’s why I’ve been so happy to see a surge of civic engagement amongst younger Ethiopian Americans in the past few years. I hope it’s something that will continue.”

Yohannes, who was born in the U.S., attended the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology in Virginia and later studied Political Science at Yale, before joining the historic 2008 Obama campaign and ultimately working for the Obama administration.


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