A former Indian-American White House staffer is going on to become the Chief of Staff to the first Indian-American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Gautam Raghavan who used to be the White House liaison to the LGBTQ community, during President Barack Obama’s time, has been recruited as Chief of Staff by Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington state.
Raghavan has been the founding executive director of Indian American Impact Project and Impact Fund (IMPACT), an organization launched formally this January, to help Indian-Americans win their campaigns up and down the ballot.
The move was announced Dec. 3, by IMPACT.
“It’s a whole new part of government, and I’m obviously excited to work with Congresswoman Jayapal. I’ve known her practically my whole life, being from Seattle, Washington,” Raghavan told News India Times. Raghavan parents and Jayapal’s family have known each other for many years.
“I have watched her establish herself as a bold, national presence, right from 9/11. She is certainly a very visible presence. She is not afraid to speak up,” Raghavan said. Jayapal recently returned from a visit to the Mexico border where she met several of the migrants seeking to enter the United States. “She felt responsible to go and meet them, and make people in the Democratic Caucus and on Capitol Hill aware of the real picture, put a face on the story,” Raghavan said referring to Jayapal’s border visit.
Now, Raghavan who has served in the executive branch, headed a national non-profit, and run his own consultancy, is embarking on a new experience. “I am thrilled to work in the legislative branch and explore the Hill and know how to deal with those issues now,” he told News India Times.
Raghavan is credited with leading IMPACT through a “historic” election cycle in which an unprecedented number of Indian Americans ran for office at the federal, state, and local level. He will continue to serve on IMPACT’s boards of directors, the organization said in a press release.
“As our founding executive director, Gautam has worked tirelessly to raise the visibility of our organization, our community, and our leaders,” Raj Goyle, co-founder of IMPACT and chair of the Impact Project, is quoted saying in the press release. “While we’re sad to lose him, we are thrilled that he will be a top advisor to Congresswoman Jayapal, one of the most prominent Indian Americans in elected office today. This kind of talent pipeline is why IMPACT exists,” Goyle, a former Kansas State Representative, added.
“Under Gautam’s leadership, Impact Fund endorsed over 20 candidates and deployed more funds for Indian American candidates than any political organization in history,” said Deepak Raj, co-founder of IMPACT and chair of the Impact Fund. “We thank him for his hard work and look forward to building on this momentum to help even more candidates run, win, and lead in 2019, 2020, and years to come.”
“I am grateful to Raj, Deepak, and our board members for the opportunity to lead this organization and for their smart counsel and thoughtful guidance,” Raghavan said in the press release, adding, “Now, more than ever, we must continue building political power in the Indian American community and in other immigrant communities and communities of color. I’m excited to help partner in that work from the halls of Congress.”
After leaving the Obama administration, Raghavan became vice president of the Gill Foundation, where he is credited with building a multi-state, multi-million advocacy project which successfully secured pro-LGBTQ executive action, regulatory change, and policy guidance in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Missouri, Montana, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Nevada, and New York, his LinkedIn profile says.
At the White House, he served as President Barack Obama’s liaison to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community as well as the Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. He also managed White House and inter-agency policy working groups, and directed the Administration’s roll out and implementation of landmark accomplishments including the Executive Order prohibiting LGBTQ discrimination in federal contracting; marriage equality; the Administration’s response to the shooting at the Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin; and regulatory changes and policy guidance regarding nondiscrimination, bullying prevention, among other things.
Raghavan also served as the White House Liaison and Deputy White House Liaison at the Department of Defense.