Biden adds two more Indian-Americans to his administration in important positions

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Uzra Zeya, nominated by President-elect Joe Biden as Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights. Photo: courtesy buildbackbetter.gov

President-elect Joe Biden, announced Jan. 16, 2021, the nomination of Uzra Zeya, an Indian-American, to a top State Department position.

Zeya is nominated to be Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights.

With more than two decades of diplomatic experience in Near East, South Asian, European, human rights, and multilateral affairs, “Zeya will be a champion for putting universal rights and strengthening democracy at the center of our efforts to meet the challenges of the 21st century,” the press release from the Biden-Harris Transition Team said.

Her civil society and diplomatic leadership experience includes serving as CEO and President of the Alliance for Peacebuilding; Acting Assistant Secretary and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; and as Chargé d’Affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Paris.

The press release credits Zeya with “helping to reach unprecedented levels of bilateral cooperation on climate change, counterterrorism in Africa and the Middle East, and Russia.”

Zeya joined the Foreign Service in 1990, serving in New Delhi, Muscat, Damascus, Cairo, and Kingston.

From 2011 to 2012, she was Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary of State and helped shape the U.S. response to the Arab Spring and worked to deepen U.S. engagement with emerging powers, the press release said.

Zeya has also served as Deputy Executive Secretary to the Secretary of State, Director of the Executive Secretariat Staff, and as UN General Assembly Coordinator.

She is a recipient of the Légion d’honneur, France’s highest civilian honor, a Presidential Rank Award, and 15 Superior Honor and Senior Performance Awards.

She is a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.

Vidur Sharma. Photo: Linkedin.com

A day earlier, on Jan. 15, 2021, the Biden Transition Team announced an expansion of the White House COVID-19 Response Team, including among others, Vidur Sharma as Policy Advisor for Testing.

Sharma served in the Obama-Biden White House as a health policy advisor on the Domestic Policy Council.

In that role, Sharma supported the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, aligned Federal Department and Agencies, and collaborated with community stakeholders to further the administration’s health policy agenda.

Sharma also served as Deputy Research Director with Protect Our Care, a coalition of advocacy organizations dedicated to preventing the repeal of the ACA.

Since then, Sharma has advised health sector organizations on value-based care arrangements at (Price Waterhouse Coopers) PwC Strategy&.

Born to Indian immigrant parents in Wisconsin and raised in Minnesota, Sharma is a graduate of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Saint Louis University.

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