Prepared by the Illinois State Society of Washington, DC, with information derived from the Biden Presidential Transition website.
Judge Merrick Garland
US Department of Justice
Nominee for Attorney General
Judge Merrick Garland, a Department of Justice veteran and independent jurist on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, is nominated to serve as Attorney General. A consensus-building voice, Judge Garland has worked under Democratic and Republican administrations. He led investigations into some of the most high-profile cases and crises in modern history, including the “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski, and coordinated the government’s response to the Oklahoma City bombing. Judge Garland’s nomination underscores the President-elect’s commitment to restore integrity and the rule of law, boost morale of the dedicated career professionals at DOJ, and build a more equitable justice system that serves all Americans.
Illinois Roots: His parents lived in Chicago South Shore until they moved to Lincolnwood where he lived until he left to attend Harvard University. He attended Niles West High School in Skokie where he graduated as valedictorian in 1970. He was named a Presidential Scholar, received a National Merit scholarship and was awarded the C. Howard Searle scholarship, which covered full tuition for Harvard University.
White House Office of Legislative Affairs
Special Assistant to the President & Senate Legislative Affairs Liaison
Zephranie Buetow currently serves as Legislative Director for U.S. Senator Gary Peters of Michigan. Prior to joining Peters staff in 2015, Buetow served as Legislative Counsel to U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. She also served in the Illinois Army National Guard. Originally from Illinois, Buetow is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Illinois State University and Loyola University Chicago.
Presidential Personnel Office
Special Assistant to the President for Presidential Personnel
Jamie Citron serves as the Interviews Lead on the Biden-Harris Transition. Prior to joining the transition, Citron served as Chief of Staff at Adler University. Previously, Jamie served as the Director of Development Strategy at the Barack Obama Foundation. During the Obama-Biden administration, Citron served as the Deputy Director of the White House Visitors Office, and in the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the US Department of Health and Human Services. Citron was born and raised in Illinois and is a graduate of Hampshire College and the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago.
White House Communications & Press Staff
Deputy Communications Director
Kate Berner was the Deputy Communications Director for Messaging for the Biden-Harris campaign. Prior to her role on the campaign, Berner was a Vice President at SKDKnickerbocker, where she helped launch the Biden Foundation and worked in the firm’s Supreme Court practice, helping to protect the Affordable Care Act. In the Obama-Biden Administration, she served as Director of Outreach and Deputy Director of Administration in the Office of the Vice President and as a Special Advisor at the Department of Commerce. Berner previously worked for former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. A native of New York, Berner graduated from the University of Chicago.
Office of Management and Administration
Deputy Director of Technology
Austin Lin serves as the Director of Information Technology and Security for the Biden-Harris Transition. Prior to the transition, he led Security and IT Systems teams at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and served as a Technical Program Manager on Facebook’s Infrastructure team. During the Obama-Biden administration, Lin served in multiple operations and technology roles including as Deputy Director of Information Technology and Associate Director for Operations. Originally from Illinois, Lin is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
White House COVID-19 Response team
Tim Manning is the former Deputy Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency for Protection and National Preparedness, serving the entirety of the Obama-Biden Administration. Since leaving the federal government in 2017, he has been an advisor and executive with the Pacific Disaster Center, a global applied research center managed by the University of Hawaii, and has served on the faculty of the Disaster and Emergency Management studies program at Georgetown University. Manning has spent his entire career focused on managing crises, previously serving as the Secretary of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for the State of New Mexico, as a firefighter-EMT, rescue mountaineer, and geologist. Raised just outside Chicago, Manning is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University and the University of St. Andrews.
Director of Presidential Scheduling
Prior to these roles, Kohnke was Director of Global Affairs for two Mayors of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel and Lori Lightfoot. Kohnke has 23 years of scheduling and advance experience having worked as Director of Scheduling and Advance for former US Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and President Barack Obama in roles such as the Director of Scheduling and Advance on the President’s 2012 re-election campaign, Deputy Director of Special Events in the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, Deputy Director of Scheduling and Advance on his 2008 campaign and roles on both 2009 and 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committees. Kohnke has also worked for former Vice President Al Gore, former Member of Congress Kendrick Meek, then-Senator John Kerry’s presidential campaign, and AIPAC. Kohnke grew up in Oak Park, IL, and is a graduate of Indiana University.
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Director
Michael Leach serves in Operations and HR for the Biden-Harris Transition team and will serve as the first-ever Chief Diversity & Inclusion Director for the White House. Previously, Leach served as the Chief People, Diversity, & Inclusion Officer on the Biden-Harris Campaign where he led the campaign’s strategic vision, planning, and implementation of staff diversity & inclusion efforts, talent acquisition, and leadership development. Prior to joining the Campaign, Leach worked as the Senior Manager of Labor Relations for the National Football League (NFL) Management Council, served in leadership on the NFL Diversity Council, Co-Chaired the NFL Black Engagement Network, and was the Administrative Lead for the NFL Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship Program. Prior to his work at the NFL, Leach served as the Assistant to Head Coach for the Chicago Bears. Originally from Chicago, Leach is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and St. Thomas University.
Chief of Staff to the Second Gentleman
Julie Mason most recently served as Senior Vice President at the global strategy firm Albright Stonebridge Group. Mason served in the White House during the Obama and Clinton administrations, holding positions in the President’s Press Office, the Office of the First Lady, and the Office of the Second Lady. She served as Director of Communications for Dr. Jill Biden during the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign. She also worked at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoological Park, where she oversaw the Zoo’s external and internal communications as a member of the Zoo’s senior management team. Mason began her career answering phones in the office of then-Senator Joseph R. Biden on the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Raised in Illinois, she is a graduate of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her daughter and son.
Sirat K. Attapit
Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Intergovernmental Affairs
Sirat K. Attapit, an Illinois native, has been named Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Intergovernmental Affairs by the Biden administration. Attapit most recently served as director of legislative affairs for California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. (Biden has nominated Becerra to be his secretary of Health and Human Services.) Before that, Attapit spent 12 years in various positions in the U.S. House, U.S. Senate and the Illinois General Assembly, where she served as an assistant counsel to former House Speaker Michael Madigan. Attapit holds a law degree and MBA from the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chicago-Kent College of Law and Stuart School of Business, respectively, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.