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Mass. exodus: A flurry of figures with Boston ties are heading to Washington. Here’s a look at who’s been tapped

A number of people with Massachusetts ties are headed to Washington to serve in the Biden-Harris administration.Eric Thayer/Getty

Thousands of people work in the White House under each administration, and with President Biden and Vice President Harris at the helm, many will hail from Massachusetts.

It seems every day comes with news of another figure with ties to Massachusetts being tapped by the nation’s highest offices.

In what can only be described as a Mass. exodus, here’s a look at some of the Bay Staters who are heading to Washington to work under the Biden-Harris administration.

Mayor Marty Walsh

Marty Walsh.Susan Walsh/Associated Press

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was tapped as Biden’s nominee for labor secretary. Walsh, 53, who hails from Dorchester, has served as mayor for seven years. If confirmed by the Senate, Walsh would take over a department that oversees a raft of federal labor laws, including those covering overtime, workers’ compensation, and workplace health and safety for more than 150 million American workers.


Organized labor has played a pivotal role in Walsh’s life and political rise. He was 21 when he became a member of the Laborers’ Union Local 223 in Boston, which his father had joined in the 1950s after emigrating from Ireland. Walsh was a state representative for 16 years, and went on to serve as president of the union. He then served as the head of the Building and Construction Trades Council. Walsh graduated from Boston College, and is known to be good friends with President Biden.

Gina Raimondo

Gina Raimondo.Chip Somodevilla/Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/G

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo was named President Biden’s pick to lead the Commerce Department, which promotes job creation and trade, and oversees the census, among other responsibilities.

Raimondo, 49, a former Rhodes Scholar who graduated from Harvard University and earned her law degree at Yale, came on the political scene when she was elected Rhode Island state treasurer in 2010. She drew the ire of public employee unions when she led an overhaul of Rhode Island’s pension system in 2011 and 2012, but was elected governor in 2014. She was reelected four years later, this time with the support of most of those unions. She is now the longest-serving female governor in the country. If confirmed by the Senate, she will be the first Rhode Island governor to serve in the president’s Cabinet.


Eric Lander

Eric Lander.Amr Alfiky/NYT

Eric Lander was chosen as Biden’s chief science adviser in a position newly elevated to Cabinet level. Lander, 63, is a pioneer in the study of the human genome and the founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

If confirmed by the Senate, Lander will be the first science adviser to serve in a presidential Cabinet. Lander also will serve as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, a position that encompasses a broad field of study, including climate change, public health, and other areas critical to the development of a national science policy.

He was previously a scientific adviser to former president Barack Obama, serving as cochair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology from 2009 to 2017. He is a biology professor at MIT and a professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School, and he cofounded or served on the board of Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Verastem, and Neon Therapeutics.

Lander and the Globe’s Opinion section also collaborated on Brave New Planet, a podcast and op-ed series on the future of technology.


If confirmed, Lander said he plans to take an unpaid leave of absence from the Broad Institute.

Lisa Monaco

Deputy Attorney General nominee Lisa Monaco.Susan Walsh/Associated Press

Lisa Monaco, a Newton native, was tapped as President Biden’s nominee for deputy attorney general. Monaco, 52, is a Newton native and served in the Obama administration as homeland security adviser.

Monaco spent much of her time in government in the Justice Department, where she was a career prosecutor and the first woman to head the National Security Division. She spent 15 years in the Justice Department during the Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama administrations, expertise that will likely be called upon in the wake of the recently revealed Russian hack of the federal government.

In 2013, Monaco was among those who briefed President Obama on details of the Boston Marathon bombing. She graduated from Harvard University and worked for Biden when he chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Monaco also served as temporary homeland security adviser leading up to Wednesday’s inauguration. The temporary role was focused solely on security threats leading up to Biden’s and Vice President Harris’s swearing-in.

Annie Tomasini

Annie Tomasini. Biden transition

Annie Tomasini was nominated to serve as director of Oval Office Operations — a crucial behind-the-scenes job that traditionally involves guarding the president’s time while trying to keep the leader of the free world roughly on schedule each day.

Tomasini, 41, is a former Boston Latin and Boston University basketball star. She served as Biden’s traveling chief of staff on the campaign trail, and first began working for Biden when he launched his second presidential bid almost 15 years ago.


Tomasini has deep political roots in Boston. Her grandmother, Rita Walsh-Tomasini, was elected president of the Boston School Committee when Tomasini was a child, and her great uncle was a state senator from Dorchester. That exposure piqued her interest in politics, which she studied at BU.

After graduating college in 2002, Tomasini became executive assistant to Larry Rasky, a longtime Biden confidant and Boston public relations executive. He worked on Biden’s 1988 and 2008 presidential runs and later launched a SuperPAC to support his 2020 bid. It was there that Rasky’s constant stories about Biden piqued Tomasini’s interest.

Jennifer O’Malley Dillon

Jennifer O'Malley Dillon.Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

Jennifer O’Malley Dillon was tapped to assume the role of White House deputy chief of staff for the Biden administration.

As the head of Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign, Dillon, 44, is the second woman ever to run a winning presidential campaign, and the first to achieve victory for a Democratic candidate. (Kellyanne Conway was the first overall, steering President Trump’s campaign for three months in 2016). A veteran operative who had helped run both Obama campaigns, she was widely courted in the Democratic primary, and led Beto O’Rourke’s campaign before taking over Biden’s in the spring.

Dillon grew up in an Irish Catholic family in Jamaica Plain and Franklin. She attended Tufts University.

John Kerry

Former Secretary of State John Kerry.Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press

John Kerry was appointed to join the Biden administration as the nation’s international climate czar. Kerry, 76, is a former Massachusetts senator who served as secretary of state in the Obama administration. Kerry will be the first person to sit on the National Security Council with a role fully dedicated to climate issues.


Kerry negotiated the Paris Climate Accord and made addressing climate change a pillar of his tenure as secretary of state from 2013-17. Kerry was part of the first Earth Day in Massachusetts in 1970 and took an interest in acid rain after he was elected the state’s lieutenant governor in 1982. He spoke of climate change during his confirmation hearing to be secretary of state and made it a key part of bilateral meetings.

The appointment does not need Senate confirmation.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky

Dr. Rochelle Walensky.Susan Walsh/Associated Press

Dr. Rochelle Walensky was tapped as Biden’s choice for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director. Most recently, Dr. Walensky served as infectious disease chief at Mass. General Hospital — the first woman to serve in that post at the hospital.

Walensky, 51, was celebrated as a rigorous, accomplished medical researcher whose grasp of science is matched only by her ability to explain it to anyone. She has appeared as a medical analyst for CNN during the pandemic and a frequent source for other news media.

Walensky is a past chair of Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council at the National Institutes of Health and chair-elect of the HIV Medical Association; she also served as an adviser to both the World Health Organization and the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS. In 1998 and 1999, Walensky served as a fellow in the Infectious Disease Training Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Mass. General.

Born in Peabody, Walensky grew up in Maryland, and received her master’s in public health at Harvard University in 2001.

Samantha Power

Samantha PowerMichael Nagle/Bloomberg

Former ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power has been tapped to serve as head of the US Agency for International Development, more commonly known as USAID. In announcing Power for the role, Biden also elevated the position to be part of the National Security Council.

Prior to serving as UN ambassador under former president Obama, Power served on the National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights.

Power, who lives in Concord, is a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Law School.

Gina McCarthy

Gina McCarthy.ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty Images

Gina McCarthy, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, will join the Biden administration as White House climate coordinator. The Canton native has earned the reputation of a stalwart leader in the fight against climate change over the years. She was the health agent for her hometown early in her career.

McCarthy, 66, also served as as assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation under President Obama. In this role, McCarthy led a number of initiatives aimed at reducing planet-warming pollution. The Clean Power Plan set the first national standards that addressed carbon pollution from power plants.

During her time in Massachusetts, McCarthy served as the deputy secretary of the state’s Office of Commonwealth Development and as undersecretary of policy for the state’s Executive Office of Environmental Affairs.

At the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, McCarthy was a professor of the practice in public health in the Department of Environmental Health. McCarthy earned her master’s degree at Tufts University, and her bachelor’s from UMass Boston.

Emma Riley

Emma Riley. Biden Transition Team (Custom credit)

A former aide to Mayor Walsh, Emma Riley was was tapped to serve as chief of staff for the communications office. The graduate of Lexington High School has risen quickly through the ranks of Democratic politics since serving as an intern on Walsh’s first mayoral campaign in 2013. Last year, she left a job in Walsh’s press office to join the Biden campaign.

Riley, 27, didn’t discover her passion for government until she attended Lexington High School, where teachers saw her interest in making change in the world and helped her understand the processes and people guiding public policy.

Riley went on to serve in Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign while still a student at High Point University in North Carolina. She returned to Boston shortly after graduating and worked for Walsh until she joined the Biden campaign last year.

While working for Walsh, Riley met Tomasini, who became a mentor to Riley and encouraged her to join the campaign team.

Wendy Sherman


Wendy Sherman was announced as Biden’s pick to serve as the No. 2 official at the State Department. Sherman served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, the fourth-highest post at the State Department, during the Obama administration and was the lead US negotiator on the nuclear deal with Iran.

Wendy, 71, also previously had stints as a counselor at the State Department and assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs.

She is currently the director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School and a senior counselor at the Albright Stonebridge Group. She attended Smith College and graduated from Boston University in the field of sociology and urban studies.

Stephanie Pollack

Stephanie Pollack.Nancy Lane/Pool

Stephanie Pollack, the state’s longtime secretary of transportation, is taking a key role at the Federal Highway Administration, where she could help execute President Biden’s ambitious plans to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure.

Pollack, 61, is the first high-level state employee and member of Governor Charlie Baker’s Cabinet to head to Washington for a job in the Biden administration.

She will eventually serve as a deputy administrator at the Federal Highway Administration but will begin next week as acting administrator until a permanent leader is nominated and confirmed, Pollack wrote in a resignation letter Thursday.

Pollack, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Law School, had been Baker’s only transportation secretary, joining his Cabinet in January 2015 from Northeastern University’s Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy.

Quentin Palfrey

Quentin Palfrey.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Quentin Palfrey was sworn in virtually Thursday as Deputy General Counsel on Biden’s administration. Palfrey, 48, served in the Obama administration’s first term as Senior Advisor for Jobs and Competitiveness in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Palfrey was the Democratic candidate in the 2018 election for lieutenant governor, running with Jay Gonzalez against incumbents Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.

Palfrey grew up in Southborough and graduated from Harvard Law School.

Shalanda Baker

Shalanda Baker is joining the Biden administration as Deputy Director for Energy Justice.

Baker, 44, is a professor of law, public policy, and urban affairs at Northeastern University. She is also the cofounder of the Initiative of Energy Justice, a group of lawyers who work with policymakers and frontline environmental justice communities on energy equity issues.

Baker served as an Air Force officer prior to her honorable discharge under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and became a vocal advocate for repeal of the policy.

Following her graduation from law school at Northeastern University School of Law, Baker clerked for Justice Roderick Ireland of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

Micky Tripathi

Tripathi will serve as national coordinator for health IT in the Department of Health and Human Services. He arrives to the Biden administration from Arcadia, a health care software company based in Burlington, where he serves on the leadership team as Chief Alliance Officer.

Tripathi formerly served as head of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative and has served on the boards of a number of organizations dedicated to improving health care information technology. He holds a Ph.D. from MIT, a masters from Harvard, and completed his undergraduate studies at Vassar College.

Tripathi will take over the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT from Donald Rucker.

Melissa Hoffer

Hoffer will join the Biden administration as Principal Deputy Counsel to the Environmental Protection Agency. Hoffer was the former chief of Attorney General Maura Healey’s Energy and Environment bureau, where she oversaw the work of attorneys on matters including civil and criminal enforcement of environmental laws and energy policy, among other things.

Prior to her work at the attorney general’s office, Hoffer practiced at WilmerHale and clerked for the Honorable Magistrate Judge Joyce London Alexander, Boston Federal District Court.

The Barre native has been inducted into the Fellowship of the American College of Environmental Lawyers, was the recipient of a Massachusetts Lawyers Top Women of Law award in 2013, and in 2007 she received a Boston Bar Association President’s Award. Over the course of her education, Hoffer studied at Northeastern University, Tufts University, UMass, and Hampshire College.

Brian Deese

Brian Deese spoke during a White House news briefing Friday.Alex Wong/Getty

Deese was tapped as director of the National Economic Council — Biden’s top economic advisor. The Belmont native was a former aide on the Obama administration, and helped rescue the auto industry during the 2009 economic crisis and played a key role in the negotiating the Paris climate accords.

After serving on Obama’s administration, Deese, 42, became the global head of sustainable investing at BlackRock.

He will be one of the youngest National Economic Council directors in history. His role does not require Senate confirmation.

Rachel Levine

Dr. Rachel Levine.Joe Hermitt/Associated Press

Levine will join the Biden administration as assistant secretary of health. The top Pennsylvania health official will oversee key health offices and programs across the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of the Surgeon General, and the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

If confirmed by the Senate, Levine, 64, would become the first openly transgender official to be confirmed by the US Senate.

Levine grew up in Wakefield and attended Belmont Hill School. She graduated from Harvard University.

Material from previous Globe reports and Globe wire services was used in this report.

Brittany Bowker can be reached at Follower her on Twitter @brittbowker.