Updated: March 2, 2021
U.S. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris on Friday announced additional members of the White House COVID-19 Response team, describing them as “qualified, tested, and skilled individuals” who will work to quickly implement “a comprehensive, whole-of-government COVID-19 response strategy to contain the pandemic, restore public trust, and protect all Americans.”
“Today’s appointees will play integral roles in implementing and executing President Biden’s strategy to effectively and equitably vaccinate as many people as possible, while also increasing testing and taking other important steps that will be key to changing the course of the pandemic,” the Biden team said in a statement.
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Amy Chang was named as Policy Advisor; Abbe Gluck as Special Counsel; David Kessler as Chief Science Officer of COVID Response; Rosa Po as COVID Response Team Deputy Chief of Staff; Andy Slavitt as Senior Advisor to the COVID Response Coordinator; Vidur Sharma as Policy Advisor for Testing; Ben Wakana as Deputy Director of Strategic Communications & Engagement and B. Cameron Webb as Senior Policy Advisor for COVID-19 Equity
President-elect Joe Biden: “We are in a race against time, and we need a comprehensive strategy to quickly contain this virus. The individuals announced today will bolster the White House’s COVID-19 Response team and play important roles in carrying out our rescue plan and vaccination program. At a time when American families are facing numerous challenges I know these public servants will do all that is needed to build our nation back better.”
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris: “Containing the coronavirus pandemic is one of the defining challenges of our time. This outstanding team will help us defeat this challenge by helping get this virus under control, responsibly reopen our economy, and safely reopen our schools. I look forward to working closely with these dedicated public servants not only to address this urgent crisis, but also to build better preparedness for future pandemics and other public health threats.”
Incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain: “There is hard work ahead to contain COVID-19. These appointees are immensely qualified to join our White House efforts to contain the coronavirus and build our nation back better. The president and vice president-elect have put together a bold rescue package and national vaccination plan and these individuals will work tirelessly by marshaling every part of our government, working directly with communities, and trusting science to make it a reality.”
Read extended biographies of all the new picks
Amy Chang, Policy Advisor
Amy Chang joins from the COVID-19 team of the Biden-Harris Transition. She previously worked in the Obama-Biden administration, as a Special Assistant in the Office of the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She has also served multiple federal health agencies in her time as a consultant at Deloitte Federal Consulting and Boston Consulting Group. Originally from South Carolina, Amy is a graduate of Yale University.
Abbe Gluck, Special Counsel
Abbe R. Gluck is the Alfred M. Rankin Professor of Law and Founding Faculty Director of the Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy at Yale Law School, and Professor of Medicine at Yale School of Medicine. Most recently, she has been assisting the COVID team on the Biden-Harris Transition. She previously served as Senior Advisor to the New Jersey Attorney General, Chief of Staff and Counsel to the New York City Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, Senior Counsel to the New York City Corporation Counsel, Deputy Special Counsel to the New York City Charter Revision Commission, and Special Assistant to U.S. Senator Paul S. Sarbanes. Earlier in her career, Gluck practiced law at the Paul Weiss firm and served as a law clerk to Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court of the United States, and to then-Chief Judge Ralph K. Winter on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Born in New York City, Gluck is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School.
David Kessler, Chief Science Officer of COVID Response
David A. Kessler, M.D., who serves as a co-chair of the COVID-19 Task Force for President-elect Joe Biden, was the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration from 1990 to 1997, under Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Dr. Kessler has served as chair of the boards of the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF). At EGPAF, Dr. Kessler helped spearhead a major global effort to make drugs available to millions to end the transmission of mother-to-child HIV-AIDS. A professor of pediatrics and epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Kessler has also served as the dean of the medical schools at Yale and UCSF. Dr. Kessler is a graduate of Amherst College, the University of Chicago Law School, and Harvard Medical School. He was awarded the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences in 2001. Dr. Kessler, a member of the National Academy of Medicine, is the author of a number of books addressing the pressing public health issues of our time.
Rosa Po, COVID Response Team Deputy Chief of Staff
Rosa Po serves as an Advisor to Domestic / Economic Agency Review on the Biden-Harris Transition and served on the Platform Team on the Biden-Harris Campaign. Previously, she served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Counsel to Senator Amy Klobuchar in the U.S. Senate and as Senator Klobuchar’s Policy Director and Senior Advisor during her presidential campaign. During the Obama-Biden administration, Po served as a Policy Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She also served as Legislative Research Director for Senator Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate, as Regional Policy Director for Secretary Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, and as a Senior Researcher on her 2008 campaign. Originally from Oregon, Po holds bachelors and masters degrees from Yale University and is a graduate of Yale Law School.
Andy Slavitt, Senior Advisor to the COVID Response Coordinator
Andy Slavitt served as the Acting Administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services under President Obama, overseeing the Medicaid, Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, value-based payment reform and the Health Insurance Marketplace. Prior to that, Slavitt helped lead the successful turnaround of healthcare.gov. Slavitt had been Board Chair of United States of Care, a national non-profit health think-tank and advocacy organization he founded to achieve full, sustainable access to health care for all American families. Slavitt co-chaired The Future of Healthcare initiative at the Bipartisan Policy Center and chaired the Medicaid Transformation Project which aims to transform care for the most vulnerable. He is also the founder and General Partner of Town Hall Ventures, which invests in health care innovations in vulnerable communities. Slavitt is host of “In The Bubble,” an award-winning podcast providing Americans critical information and help during this global pandemic. He is also author of the book Preventable, a definitive, behind-the-scenes look at the U.S. Coronavirus crisis and the US response.
Vidur Sharma, Policy Advisor for Testing
Vidur Sharma served in the Obama-Biden White House as a health policy advisor on the Domestic Policy Council. In this 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 PwC Strategy. Born in Wisconsin and raised in Minnesota, and the son of Indian immigrants, Sharma is a graduate of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Saint Louis University. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife.
Ben Wakana, Deputy Director of Strategic Communications & Engagement
Ben Wakana serves as the COVID and Health Care Outreach lead on the Biden-Harris Transition. Prior to joining the transition, he was the Executive Director of Patients For Affordable Drugs, a nationwide non-profit focused on lowering prescription drug prices. Before joining Patients For Affordable Drugs, Wakana served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services where he helped manage communications efforts around the Affordable Care Act, Ebola, and Zika. He also spent time as a Communications Director on Capitol Hill. Wakana grew up in Maine and graduated from Colby College. He lives with his wife and two kids in Washington, D.C.
B. Cameron Webb, Senior Policy Advisor for COVID-19 Equity
Dr. B. Cameron Webb currently serves as Assistant Professor of Medicine and Public Health Sciences, and as Director of Health Policy and Equity at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. A general internist, Dr. Webb has worked clinically in the University’s COVID unit since the beginning of the pandemic. Additionally, he is the founding director of UVA’s Health Equity, Law and Policy Research (HELPR) Laboratory and is a core faculty member at the University’s Equity Center, an initiative for the redress of inequity through community-engaged scholarship. Prior to joining the faculty at UVA, Dr. Webb spent a year as a 2016 White House Fellow in the Obama-Biden Administration’s Office of Cabinet Affairs, where he served on the My Brother’s Keeper task force and the White House Healthcare team. Dr. Webb received his B.A. from the University of Virginia, his M.D. from Wake Forest School of Medicine, and his J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.