Chief of Staff to the First Lady, and Co-Chair of the White House Gender Policy Council
All-Purpose Equity Leader
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One of many immigrant success stories who have made their way into the Biden administration, Julissa Reynoso Pantaleón immigrated from the Dominican Republic to the South Bronx at age 7, going on to graduate in the top 5 percent of her class at Harvard and editing a law journal at Columbia.
After working in the international practices of several prestigious New York firms, she entered politics through volunteering on Hillary Clinton’s and Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaigns. Clinton later brought her on as assistant deputy secretary of State for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, and Obama then tapped her as ambassador to Uruguay.
In addition to being first lady Jill Biden’s chief of staff, Reynoso Pantaleón has a vast policy portfolio. She’s been monitoring family-reunification efforts at the U.S.-Mexico border, and is a cochair of the Gender Policy Council, which President Biden announced this year. The council seeks to address discrimination and sexual harassment, enhance economic opportunity for women, reduce the wage gap—and ask every federal agency to do the same. As Reynoso Pantaleón said in a statement with cochair Jennifer Klein, “A government-wide approach to gender policy means that every agency and every policy team is at the table, and that every issue is approached with gender equity in mind.”
Approach and Motivations
Excerpted from Julissa‘s Vignette profile
Personal experiences with the immigration system inform both her comparative approach to solving problems and her passion for domestic and international policymaking
- Says her perspective as an immigrant influences her interest in international issues and forces her to continuously look “for points of comparison” between countries; background also frames her sympathetic attitude toward immigrant and refugee communities
- Focuses on the impact of political and societal institutions when examining issues of injustice and leverages her legal knowledge to protect minority groups
- Utilizes a colloquial, down-to-earth style of speaking infused with humor to relate to her listeners, and often publishes articles in both Spanish and English to reach a bilingual audience
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