President Biden selects three Indian-American women for top offices

Dr. Radha Plumb, Deputy Secretary of Defense Chief of Staff, poses for her official portrait in the Army portrait studio at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va, Feb. 25, 2021. (U.S. Army photo by William Pratt)

Over the last two weeks, President Biden has selected three Indian-American women fill important positions. On June 15, 2022, he sent a slew of nominations to the U.S. Senate including two Indian-American. Earlier on June 6, he announced he named another woman whose nomination has yet to be sent to Capitol Hill.

Radha Iyengar Plumb of New York, has been selected by the President to be Deputy Under Secretary of Defense replacing Alan Ray Shaffer. He sent her nomination to the Senate June 15.

Iyengar Plumb is currently the Chief of Staff of the Deputy Secretary of Defense, a position she has occupied since February 2021. As Chief of Staff, she is responsible for leading the Deputy Secretary’s executive staff and providing counsel and advice to the Deputy Secretary and ensuring Deputy-led governance processes align with key leadership priorities.

Prior to her appointment as Chief of Staff, she was the Director of Research and Insights for Trust & Safety at Google and had previously served as Global Head of Policy Analysis at Facebook.

Before her Silicon Valley work, Iyengar Plumb was a senior economist at the RAND Corporation where she focused on improving measurement and evaluation of readiness and security efforts across the Department of Defense. In that capacity she served as lead author on a number of critical reports including assessing the implications of open service of Transgender Service members and review of security and suitability screening efforts.

From 2014-2015, she served as the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary of Energy, where she led policy processes including budget and policy reviews related to modernizing nuclear infrastructure and efforts to enhance energy sector security and resilience. She has also served as the director of personnel and readiness at the National Security Council where she was instrumental on executive actions on sexual assault in the military.

She also served as policy advisor and Chief of Staff to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict, and as a civilian in Afghanistan conducting measurement and assessment work to support the Counterinsurgency Advisory and Assistance Team for the Commander, ISAF.

Iyengar Plumb has a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University. Her research has covered empirical evaluations of policies aimed at reducing violence, including criminal violence, sexual assault, terrorist behavior, and sexual and intimate partner violence.

Early in her career, Iyengar Plumb served as assistant professor at the London School of Economics and a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Scholar at Harvard.

Roopali H. Desai. Photo:

Roopali H. Desai, of Arizona, whose nomination was also sent to the U.S. Senate June 15, is the President’s choice to be United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit, to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Andrew David Hurwitz.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Desai would become the first Indian-American to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the 9th Circuit, if confirmed by the Senate.

Desai is a partner at Coppersmith Brockelman where she has practiced since 2007.  From 2006 to 2007, she was an associate at Lewis & Roca. She served as a law clerk for Chief Judge Mary Schroeder on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 2005 to 2006.

Desai has a J.D. (2005), an M.P.H (2001), and her B.A. in 2000, all from the University of Arizona

Sopen B. Shah. Photo Linkedin

Earlier, on June 6, President Biden announced a slew of nominees, among them another Indian-American woman Sopen B. Shah as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin.   

Shah is Counsel at Perkins Coie LLP where she has practiced since 2019. She was previously a Deputy Solicitor General of Wisconsin from 2017 to 2019.

She served as a law clerk for Judge Debra Ann Livingston on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 2016 to 2017 and Judge Amul R. Thapar on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky from 2015 to 2016.

According to her bio on the law firm’s website, Shah is an award-winning brief writer and experienced oral advocate. She has briefed appeals in the U.S. Supreme Court; the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Ninth, Eighth, Seventh, Fourth, Second, First, D.C., and Federal Circuits; and the Wisconsin, New Hampshire, and Washington Supreme Courts. In 2020, she won the State Bar of Wisconsin’s biennial “Best Brief” award.

Shah also handles high-stakes litigation in trial courts, including a voting rights case in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin and a multimillion-dollar shareholder-dispute trial in Dane County Circuit Court.

Before joining the firm, she argued the state’s high-profile criminal and civil appeals as deputy solicitor general of Wisconsin. Before law school, Shah was a management consultant with McKinsey & Company and a financial analyst at Bloomberg.

Shah received her J.D. from Yale Law School in 2015 and A.B., magna cum laude, from Harvard College in 2008.



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