Angelenos On President-Elect Biden's Transition Team
As part of President-elect Joe Biden's transition process, he has created agency review teams to evaluate various federal government departments. Here is a select list of Angelenos who have been invited to serve on some of those teams:
COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY: Nikki Buffa works at the Orange County offices of the law firm Latham & Watkins. She spent eight years with the Obama administration shaping and implementing various environmental policies, working, in part, as the Associate Director of the Council on Environmental Quality, and later as Deputy Chief of Staff at the Department of the Interior. She is a 2006 graduate of UCLA's Law School.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE: Jeffrey Prieto is general counsel of the Los Angeles Community College District. He was the Department of Agriculture general counsel during the Obama administration.
DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING & URBAN DEVELOPMENT (will also review the Federal Housing Finance Agency): Ben Winter has played an influential role crafting housing policy in Los Angeles. He currently oversees housing initiatives and policy advocacy at the California Community Foundation, a prominent L.A. non-profit grantmaker. Winter previously worked as a housing policy advisor to Mayor Eric Garcetti beginning in 2015 and spent most of last year as Garcetti's chief housing officer. Before working in L.A., Winter was a policy analyst and advisor for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama. The millennial housing wonk has spent years tackling L.A.'s housing crisis. Now he'll assist a President-elect promising to deliver an ambitious federal housing agenda that includes a fully funded universal Section 8 housing voucher program.
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (will also review the National Transportation Safety Board, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation / AMTRAK, and the Federal Maritime Commission): Phil Washington, CEO of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, has been tapped to lead this agency review committee. Washington took the helm at the L.A. County agency in 2015 after managing Denver's transportation agency. In his role at L.A. Metro, he's overseen the influx of new tax funding through Measure M, an ambitious expansion plan for its rail system over the coming decade, and is currently steering the agency through the financial crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Metro ridership and sales tax revenue plummeted when stay-at-home orders were enacted in March.
Washington has also spearheaded a progressive agenda for L.A. County's public transit, including studying congestion pricing (charging motorists to drive at certain times and/or on certain roadways), and launching a task force to study how to the agency could go fare-free by the start of the new year.
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS: Heidi Marston took over the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) in June, running L.A. County's pandemic response to homelessness, including the Project RoomKey effort to shelter thousands of homeless people in vacant hotel rooms. Marston previously served as acting executive director and program officer at LAHSA, the lead agency coordinating housing and other support for tens of thousands of homeless people across L.A. She came to the housing agency from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, where she oversaw a redesign of the V.A.'s homeless services system, helped make a plan to build more housing units at the West L.A. V.A. campus and served as a special assistant to former V.A. Secretary Bob McDonald. Currently at the helm of the city's homelessness problem, Marston will try to help pave the way for a Biden plan that aims to improve V.A. accountability and eliminate veteran homelessness.
INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY COMMITTEE: Carmen Landa Middleton wore several different hats during her 33-year career at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). At the time of her retirement, Carmen was the highest-ranking Latina in the Intelligence Community. In 2017, Carmen founded Common Table Consulting, LLC, working with companies and organizations to strengthen their competency in leading and engaging with diverse organizations. In March 2020, Carmen began a new role with The Walt Disney Company as the Director of Strategic Security Operations.
OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE (will also review the United States International Trade Commission and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency): Celeste Drake is Executive in Charge of Government Affairs for the Directors Guild of America. She is formerly the trade and globalization policy specialist at the AFL-CIO and served as legislative director for Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), legislative counsel for Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), and clerk for the Honorable David R. Thompson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL (will review the Homeland Security Council, the National Space Council, and the President's Intelligence Advisory Board): Dilpreet Sidhu is Director of International Relations, Mayor's Office of Los Angeles. She formerly worked as Economic Officer for the U.S. Consulate General in Basrah, Iraq; Special Assistant in the Office of U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice; and as a Staff Assistant in the Office of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.