President-elect Joe Biden named an Indian-American to the White House staff and a Pakistan-American as a climate advisor Dec. 19.
Vedant Patel, who has worked on Capitol Hill, has been appointed Assistant Press Secretary at the White House.
Patel served as Regional Communications Director on the Biden-Harris Campaign.
During President-elect Biden’s primary campaign, Patel served as the Nevada and Western Primary-States Communications Director. Previously, Patel worked as Communications Director to Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, Western Regional Press Secretary at the Democratic National Committee, and Communications Director to Congressman Mike Honda.
Born in India and raised in California, Patel is a graduate of the University of California-Riverside and the University of Florida. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife/
Ali Zaidi, a Pakistani-American, who played a key role in global climate agreements, has been nominated Deputy National Climate Advisor.
Zaidi assisted in drafting and implementing the ground-breaking Climate Action Plan and helped negotiate the Paris Climate Agreement.
He served in the Office of Management and Budget and White House Domestic Policy Council during the Obama-Biden Administration.
Zaidi currently serves as New York’s Deputy Secretary for Energy and Environment and Chairman of Climate Policy and Finance, and leads the state’s efforts on climate change — driving investment into infrastructure and innovation, empowering workers and communities, and boosting economic and environmental resilience, the press release on the Biden-Harris website says.
An adjunct professor at Stanford University where he has taught graduate courses on technology policy and studied the fiscal and financial impacts of climate change, Zaidi co-founded Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy, a Stanford-coordinated initiative that equips sustainability-focused startups with pro bono legal services.
A long-time advisor to President-elect Biden on climate matters, Zaidi brings the cross-sector and multi-disciplinary experience needed to deliver a whole-of-government response to the climate crisis, the press release says.
During the Obama-Biden Administration, Zaidi served as Associate Director for Natural Resources, Energy, and Science for the Office of Management and Budget and as Deputy Director of Energy Policy for the Domestic Policy Council. He helped design and implement a wide range of domestic and international policies.
Zaidi has advised non-profits, including as a Trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council, and counseled the private sector, as an attorney who helped launch a sustainable investment practice.
He immigrated from Pakistan and grew up outside Erie, Pennsylvania. He received an A.B. from Harvard University and J.D. from Georgetown University.