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Podesta Turns Over Helm of Democratic Think Tank Podesta Turns Over Helm of Democratic Think Tank

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Politics / POLITICS

Podesta Turns Over Helm of Democratic Think Tank

The new president of the Center for American Progress, Neera Tanden, helped craft President Obama's health care law.(Richard A. Bloom)

photo of Kathy Kiely
October 24, 2011

Veteran Democratic strategist John Podesta is stepping down as president of the liberal think tank that he founded.

The well-connected Podesta, who directed President Obama's White House transition team and served as former President Bill Clinton's White House chief of staff, is turning the helm of the Center for American Progress over to his chief operating officer, Neera Tanden.

"Neera has the experience, the intellect, the policy chops, the public communication skills and the leadership ability to blaze a path for this great organization," said Podesta in an e-mail. "She is the right person to take this institution to a new level."

 

A Yale Law School graduate, Tanden is, like, Podesta, a veteran of former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle's congressional staff. She was a domestic policy adviser to then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign and, as a policy aide at the Health and Human Services Department, helped craft the health care reform bill that President Obama signed into law.

Podesta said he will remain with CAP as a senior adviser. He has been working one day a week as an unpaid volunteer for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a role he plans to continue along with his teaching at Georgetown Law School. In an email to CAP staff, Podesta said he remain as an unpaid strategist and fundraiser for the organization.

He founded CAP in 2003, when George W. Bush was president, to give Democrats an answer to conservative think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and has built it into an influential policy center that serves as a platform for many of the party's intellectuals and Cabinet members-in-waiting.

Podesta won respect on both sides of the aisle in his years as an aide to various Democratic senators. With his brother, Tony, he co-founded the Podesta Group, one of Washington's top lobbying firms. But as Obama's transition director in 2008, he was outspoken about his efforts to make good on the president's promise to keep lobbyists out of his administration.

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