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Biden picks Gina Raimondo and Marty Walsh for Secretaries of Commerce and Labor, Isabel Guzman for SBA Updated for 2021

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Updated: February 25, 2021

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday announced additional key members of his economic and jobs team, including Governor Gina Raimondo, nominee for Secretary of Commerce; Mayor Marty Walsh, nominee for Secretary of Labor; Isabel Guzman, nominee for Small Business Administrator; and Don Graves, nominee for Deputy Secretary of Commerce.

The Biden team has said that with two dozen cabinet nominees announced, President-elect Biden has put forward “the most diverse cabinet in American history — all tested, dedicated public servants ready to lead on day one.”

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“This experienced team will advance the President-elect’s Build Back Better agenda, digging us out from the worst jobs crisis in nearly a century by supporting small businesses, dramatically increasing union density, and rebuilding the backbone of America — our middle class,” the Biden team said, adding that “The nominees announced today will usher in a new wave of worker power, help struggling small businesses recover and re-open, and put Americans back to work by creating millions of good-paying union jobs. They will be partners to the President-elect in building a stronger, more resilient, and more inclusive economy that delivers every American a fair return for their work and an equal chance to get ahead.”

What they are saying:

President-Elect Joe Biden: “This team will help us emerge from the most inequitable economic and jobs crisis in modern history by building an economy where every American is in on the deal. They share my belief that the middle class built this country and that unions built the middle class. They know how to work with states, cities, small towns, and tribal communities, along with labor, entrepreneurs, and businesses to get things done for American workers. They will work tirelessly to ensure every American enjoys a fair return for their work and an equal chance to get ahead, and that our businesses can thrive and outcompete the rest of the world. They will be ready on day one.”

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris: “As we work to contain this pandemic and open our economy responsibly, we must also build our economy back better so it lifts up all Americans. The outstanding team of public servants we are announcing today will protect and expand workers’ rights, provide access to capital for small business owners, and invest in American innovation and competitiveness. And I look forward to working alongside them and the rest of our economic team to help create millions of good-paying, union jobs and build an economy that’s not only stronger, but fairer for working people.” 

Read their profiles

Governor Gina Raimondo is nominated to serve as Secretary of Commerce. Currently serving her second term as the 75th Governor of Rhode Island — the first woman to hold the position — she is known as an effective and innovative executive whose strong management brought her state back from what was, at the time she first ran for Governor, the worst unemployment rate of any state in the nation. A champion of creative, forward-thinking economic initiatives, Governor Raimondo launched successful workforce training programs to prepare Americans for the 21st century economy. Her small business loan fund has empowered 150 Rhode Island entrepreneurs so far — more than half of whom are women or people of color — to get new businesses up and running. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she has worked to quickly bring the state economy back from the depths of the nationwide crisis. Governor Raimondo has expanded clean energy jobs and put Rhode Island on a path to achieving 100% renewable energy. She will be a key player in helping position the United States as an exporter of 21st century products and leader in the clean energy economy.

Mayor Marty Walsh is nominated to serve as Secretary of Labor. If confirmed, Mayor Walsh would be the first union member to serve in this role in nearly half a century. Mayor Walsh has worked tirelessly to rebuild the middle class, create a more inclusive, resilient economy, and fight for workers in his hometown — including fighting for a $15 minimum wage and paid family leave. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Walsh is working to support frontline workers, including funding emergency child care and other resources essential workers need to weather the pandemic. As the current Chairman of Climate Mayors, a group of 470 mayors nationwide, Mayor Walsh knows that we can create good-paying union jobs by investing in clean energy. Having served as the head of both Laborers’ Union Local 223 and the Boston Metropolitan District Building Trades Council, Mayor Walsh has the necessary experience, relationships, and the trust of the President-elect to help workers recover from this historic economic downturn and usher in a new era of worker power.

Isabel Guzman is nominated to serve as Small Business Administrator. Currently serving as Director of California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate and a key leader in the state’s COVID-19 economic recovery, she works closely with entrepreneurs to help them weather the pandemic and support innovation, job creation, and economic growth in the nation’s largest state network of small businesses. A former senior advisor and deputy chief of staff at the SBA — and a small business entrepreneur herself — she is a passionate advocate for small businesses who knows firsthand the opportunities they create for families and communities.

Don Graves is nominated to serve as Deputy Secretary of Commerce. An experienced public servant who has been a long-time trusted advisor to the President-elect on jobs and the economy, Graves is a widely respected leader who has successfully taken on some of the toughest challenges facing our economy. When Detroit grappled with bankruptcy, President Obama and then-Vice President Biden put Graves in charge of coordinating the response to bring the city back — working with municipal, state, business, and community leaders, he oversaw the historic effort to revitalize the Motor City. A former Executive Director of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Small Business, Community Development, and Housing Policy in the Treasury Department, Graves knows how to successfully manage some of the federal government’s most critical and impactful job and small business-focused programs.

Read their extended profiles

Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Commerce

Gina Raimondo is currently serving her second term as the 75th Governor of Rhode Island. The first woman to lead in this role, she has revitalized the state’s economy through innovative investments in economic development, job training, and infrastructure, while spurring the creation and growth of small- and medium-sized businesses across Rhode Island. A believer in the power of education, Governor Raimondo more than quadrupled the number of public pre-K classrooms, ensured every school had a computer science curriculum, and made Rhode Island the nation’s fourth state to provide free community college opportunities to every high school graduate. Under her governance, Rhode Island has provided its population with the most tests per capita in the United States and she has worked to quickly bring the state economy back from the brink. 

Prior to her tenure as Governor, Raimondo helped found the first venture capital firm in Rhode Island, Point Judith Capital, and served for four years as the state’s General Treasurer. A Rhode Island native, Governor Raimondo received her bachelor of arts degree from Harvard University, her master of arts and doctor of philosophy degrees as a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, and her JD from Yale Law School.

Mayor Marty Walsh, Secretary of Labor 

Marty Walsh is currently serving his second term as the Mayor of Boston, Massachusetts. For the past 7 years, he has worked tirelessly to rebuild the middle class, build a more inclusive, resilient economy, and fight for workers in his hometown — including fighting for a $15 minimum wage and paid family leave. Mayor Walsh is credited with permitting thousands of new affordable homes in the city, putting a roof over the heads of thousands of homeless people and ending chronic veterans’ homelessness, providing universal pre-k, and bringing free community college to low-income students in the city. During his tenure as Mayor, 135,000 new jobs were created.

Prior to his service as Mayor, Walsh served as a legislator for the 13th Suffolk District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Co-Chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party Labor Caucus, and Co-Chair for the Special Commission on Public Construction Reform. He was also president of the Laborers’ Union Local 223, joining the union at age 21. He was elected secretary-treasurer and general agent of the Boston Metropolitan District Building Trades Council, and ultimately named to lead the union in 2011. 

Mayor Walsh received his bachelor’s degree from the Woods College of Advancing Studies at Boston College.

Isabel Guzman, Small Business Administrator

Isabel Guzman currently serves as the Director of the Office of the Small Business Advocate within the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz). A lifelong proponent of small businesses, Guzman grew up as the daughter of a small business owner and served within the Obama-Biden Administration as Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor in the U.S. Small Business Administration. In her current role, Guzman helps connect entrepreneurs in every community with the resources and capital needed for success, and supports small businesses to weather the COVID-19 pandemic. She serves as the voice of small businesses and innovative startups to help them access capital, markets and networks. In addition to overseeing a network of small business centers, Guzman’s office has launched the Shop Safe Shop Local initiative aimed at helping small businesses reopen safely, and its Get Digital CA initiative to help businesses adopt technology to safely and successfully operate in the pandemic. 

Prior to her career in public service, Guzman was a small business entrepreneur herself, an advisor to fellow founders, and an advisor at ProAmérica Bank, the first California-chartered Latino-formed business bank to form in Los Angeles in over 35 years. She earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business.  

Don Graves, Deputy Secretary of Commerce

Don Graves is a long-time trusted advisor to President-elect Joe Biden who has served as Deputy Assistant to President Barack Obama and Counselor to then-Vice President Biden, Executive Director of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Small Business, Community Development and Housing Policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. 

During the Obama-Biden Administration, he oversaw the multi-billion-dollar Small Business Lending Fund and State Small Business Credit Initiative, as well as the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund — and led the federal effort to revitalize Detroit in the wake of its bankruptcy, working with city, state, business, non-profit and community stakeholders to bring the city back from the brink. In 2016, he was tasked by then-Vice President Biden to oversee his signature Cancer Moonshot Effort. He is a deeply experienced, tested public servant who has focused on creating jobs, opportunity, and prosperity for all Americans, especially in underserved communities.

Graves currently leads the Biden-Harris Transition’s Treasury Agency Review Team to ensure the Department of Treasury is ready to hit the ground running on day one. Prior to his role on the Biden-Harris transition, Graves was Head of Corporate Responsibility & Community Relations at KeyBank, leading the bank’s sustainability work. He received his B.A. degree in political science and history from Williams College and Juris Doctor from the Georgetown University Law Center.

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Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

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