The Democratic National Committee announced June 29, that it has made an Indian-American attorney and civil rights activist its Chief Executive Officer.
Seema Nanda, who was named CEO, is currently the executive vice president and chief operating officer at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the largest human and civil rights organization in the country. Nanda will start later in July in the new position, a press release from the DNC said.
As CEO, Nanda will manage the day-to-day operations of the organization. The DNC coordinates strategy to support the party’s candidates throughout the country for local, state, and national office. Which puts Nanda in a challenging position at this time of internal strife within the party between progressives and moderates.
Supporters of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and those who were behind Sen. Bernie Sanders, including millennials, have been at loggerheads over the direction of the party as it tries to use President Donald Trump’s low popularity ratings to turn its own fortunes at the polling booths in upcoming primaries and the mid-term elections Nov. 6.
The decision to appoint Nanda as CEO was made after a five-month search led by current CEO Mary Beth Cahill. Cahill will continue to serve the DNC through the transition and as the DNC heads into the 2018 cycle.
“This position is the opportunity of a lifetime, for which I am incredibly honored and humbled,” Nanda is quoted saying in the press release, adding, “People are hurting all across our country. And I believe that Democrats are offering the positive solutions so desperately-needed right now – solutions forged by the strength of our diversity, the rigor of our ideas, and the decency of our values.”
The graduate of Boston College Law School and Brown University and a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association has served on DNC Chair Tom Perez’ transition team, which took a fresh look at the committee’s operations following the 2016 election and put in place an infrastructure that contributed to wins in 2017 and 2018, the press release said.
Nanda has been overseeing strategy and managing day-to-day operations at the Leadership Conference, which is headed by another Indian-American, Vanita Gupta, the Obama administration’s Civil Rights Division chief at the Justice Department.
Prior to the LCCHR, Nanda was Chief of Staff to then-Secretary Tom Perez at the U.S. Department of Labor. While at the Labor Department, she also worked as Deputy Solicitor and as Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Counselor to Perez, managing a portfolio that included immigration, workforce development, and internal management issues.
“I’m beyond excited that Seema is bringing her talent and brilliance to the DNC,” DNC Chair Tom Perez is quoted saying in the press release. “I’ve seen firsthand Seema’s exceptional ability to lead. She is a seasoned manager who has a proven track record of success and a well-documented history of fighting for our Democratic values, whether it’s on immigration, civil rights or leveling the playing field for our workers. As we head toward such a crucial election, I’m one hundred percent certain that Seema’s leadership will help the DNC capitalize on the unprecedented grassroots energy and enthusiasm surging throughout the country.”
Before her time at the Labor Department, Seema led the now-named Office of Immigrant and Employee Rights Section in U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Her experience also includes practicing labor and employment law and she has served on the boards of several non-profit organizations.
Thanking Perez and Cahill for selecting her, Nanda said she looks forward “to joining my new DNC colleagues in the fight for our nation’s values and future.”
Currently, the Republican National Committee is also headed by a woman, Ronna Romney McDaniel. Nanda’s other challenge is to raise more funds as the DNC has raised far less than the RNC, Glamour magazine noted.