Many NYU Law alumni answer call to serve in the Obama administration
Since taking office in January 2009, President Barack Obama has been calling upon numerous NYU Law alumni to join his administration. Alumni are serving in a wide variety of roles such as John Leibowitz '84, who is chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, and David Kamin '09, who was appointed special assistant to the director of the Office of Management and Budget. The following lists those named to top-level positions in shaping the administration's agenda:
Spencer P. Boyer '95 became a deputy assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs in August 2009. Mr. Boyer will focus on Western Europe, public diplomacy, and public affairs. Prior to joining the State Department, Mr. Boyer was the Director of International Law and Diplomacy in the National Security and International Policy Department of the Center for American Progress.
Julie Brill '85, the senior deputy attorney general and chief of consumer protection and antitrust for the North Carolina Department of Justice as well as a lecturer-in-law at Columbia Law School, was confirmed unanimously as a commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission on March 3 by the U.S. Senate. Brill spent 20 years as an assistant attorney general for consumer protection and antitrust in Vermont before assuming her office in North Carolina in 2009.
Renae Campbell '02 is special assistant to the general deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportuntiy at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Campbell joined HUD in 2002 as a Presidential Management Fellow, and has been with the Fair Housing office since.
Kenneth Feinberg '70 was appointed a compensation czar who will have broad discretion to set the pay for 175 top executives at seven of the nation’s largest companies which received hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds. Founder and managing partner of Feinberg Rozen, Feinberg was the special master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001, which was established by Congress shortly after the attacks as an administrative alternative to litigation for the immediate victims. Participation in the fund included approximately 97 percent of the claims by families of the victims and those who were injured. The fund paid out more than $7 billion to 5,560 claimants through June 2004.
David Fein '85 was confirmed as the new United States attorney for Connecticut May 5. Fein, a partner at Wiggin & Dana in Stamford, CT, since 1997, previously served in the White House under President Bill Clinton as an associate counsel from 1995-1996. Before joining the White House, Fein worked as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1989-1995.
Matthew Feldman '88 is advisor to the secretary of the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry. Formerly a partner in the business reorganization and restructuring department at Willkie Farr & Gallagher, Feldman advises U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers, the director of the National Economic Council, on reorganization efforts by auto manufacturers and suppliers.
Louis Freeh (LL.M. '84) was sworn in as a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, which provides recommendations and advice to the Secretary of Homeland Security. Freeh was the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation under President Bill Clinton. Freeh previously held numerous positions in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, including chief of the organized crime unit and deputy and associate U.S. Attorney. He also served as a U.S. District Judge in the Southern District.
Seth Harris '90 was confirmed as deputy secretary of the Department of Labor. Harris was most recently a professor and director of labor and employment law programs at New York Law School. He served as the working group leader of the Obama Transition Projects Agency for the labor, education, and transportation agencies and also served as the chair for Obama for America’s labor, employment, and workplace policy committee and co-chaired the disability committee. During President Clinton's administration, Harris served as counselor to the secretary of labor and acting assistant secretary of labor for policy, among other policy-advising positions.
David Kamin '09 has been appointed special assistant to Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Kamin worked for Orszag as part of the Obama OMB transition team.
Raymond Kelly (LL.M. '74), New York City police commissioner, was sworn in as a member of the Homeland Security Council. Kelly has spent more than 30 years in the NYPD, serving in 25 different commands and as police commissioner from 1992 to 1994 and from 2002 to the present. He is the first person to hold the commissioner post for two separate tenures.
Jon Leibowitz '84 was named chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the regulatory agency that reviews mergers and enforces consumer protection laws. A member of the FTC since 2004, Leibowitz championed the agency’s efforts to prevent makers of brand-name drugs from paying manufacturers of less expensive alternative medications to keep their products off the market. The FTC has filed numerous lawsuits to challenge these “reverse payments” in drug patent settlements, which the agency argues cost consumers hundreds of millions of dollars per year in higher drug prices. Prior to joining the FTC, Leibowitz was a lobbyist for the Motion Picture Association of America, the movie industry trade group. He was also the Democratic counsel to the Senate Judiciary antitrust committee during his 14 years as a Senate aide.
On March 11, President Obama nominated Raymond Lohier Jr. '91 for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Lohier is currently an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and chief of the Southern District of New York's Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. This task force pursues high-profile cases involving securities fraud, Ponzi schemes, and insider trading. He was part of a team that prosecuted New York lawyer and scam artist Marc Dreier for attempting to bilk investors out of $700 million.
Cynthia Mann '75 has been named director of the Center for Medicaid and State Operations (CMSO) in the Department of Health and Human Services. Mann most recently served as a research professor and executive director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute. She was previously the director of the Family and Children’s Health Programs at CMSO from 1999-2001. In that capacity she played a key role in implementing Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
On March 1, Christopher J. Meade '96 joined the Obama Administration as the principal deputy general counsel at the United States Department of Treasury. Before joining the Treasury, Meade was a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, where he was a member of the litigation and securities departments, and a core member of the Supreme Court and appellate litigation group. Meade has argued four cases in the U.S. Supreme Court since 2006, including two cases last term, and is a frequent speaker on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Shawn Maher '87 was named deputy director of legislative affairs for the U.S. Senate. He was previously the legislative director for Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) since 1997. Maher began his Washington career in 1989 as legislative director to then-Representative Joseph Kennedy II (D-Mass.), going on to become staff director and chief counsel for the House Subcommittee on Consumer Credit and Insurance under Kennedy.
Laurie Mikva '83 has been confirmed as a board member of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). She served for nearly 30 years as a civil legal aid attorney and a public defender in Illinois and Maryland. LSC is the single largest provider of civil legal assistance for the poor in the nation. Established by Congress in 1974, LSC operates as a private, nonprofit organization to promote equal access to justice and to provide high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income Americans.
Ignacia Moreno '90 has been confirmed as assistant attorney general in the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. Moreno is a leading practitioner in the field of environmental and natural resources law, with over 18 years of experience in the federal government and in private and corporate practice. She is currently counsel, corporate environmental programs, at the General Electric Company, and she serves pro bono as general counsel to the Hispanic National Bar Association.
Alison Nathan, the 2008-09 Alexander Fellow at NYU Law, was appointed associate White House counsel. Nathan, a specialist in procedure, federal courts, habeas corpus, and U.S. death penalty constitutionality, was a visiting assistant professor at Fordham Law School and an associate at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr in Washington, D.C. She also served as national voter protection senior advisor to President Obama's presidential campaign, as well as a member of its LGBT Advisory Committee. As an Alexander Fellow at the Law School, Nathan examined the interest in finality as a key procedural value in American procedural law.
Bruce Oreck (LL.M. '80) has been appointed the U.S. ambassador to Finland. Oreck was on President Obama's National Finance Committee and is active in environmental issues, serving as a member of Colorado's Climate Action Panel and founding the Zero Carbon Initiative. He is founding partner of the Boulder law firm Oreck, Crighton, Adams & Chase.
Nia Phillips '99 was appointed deputy general counsel for departmental and legislative services in the Department of Education's Office of the General Counsel. She was an associate at Debevoise & Plimpton, legal counsel at Viacom Inc., and a first-grade teacher at a Brooklyn public school before serving as deputy political director and constituency director for Georgia during Obama's presidential campaign.
Amelia Salzman '85, known as Amy, worked on the Energy and Natural Resources transition team and is now Associate Director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. After serving as a trial attorney in the Policy, Legislation and Special Litigation Section of the Environment Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Salzman was Senior Program Officer in charge of biodiversity, climate change, and energy at the Wallace Global Fund and Senior Program Officer in the International Policy Program and World Wildlife Fund U.S.
Miriam Sapiro '86 has been confirmed as a deputy U.S. trade representative. She is the founder of Summit Strategies International, a consulting firm specializing in Internet policy, electric commerce, and international issues involving strategic planning and consulting. She has served in various roles in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.
Eric Schwartz '85 has been confirmed as assistant secretary for population, refugees and migration in the Department of State. He was previously the executive director of the Connect U.S. Fund, a foundation/NGO initiative focused on foreign and international affairs, and visiting lecturer of public and international affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. Between 2005 and 2007, he served as U.N. deputy special envoy for tsunami recovery, working to promote coordination, accountability to donors and beneficiaries, and best practices in the recovery effort. He also has served as a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and held various posts at the National Security Council.
M. Patricia Smith '77 was confirmed to be solicitor of the Department of Labor in January 2010. As solicitor, Smith will serve as Labor Secretary Hilda Solis' general counsel, helping shape policy, oversee litigation, and coordinate the activities of the department's wage and hour division. Smith was previously the commissioner of the New York State Department of Labor and spent 20 years in the labor bureau of the New York State Attorney General's Office, the last 8 years there serving as bureau chief.
Natalia Sorgente '96 has been named chief of staff and counsel in the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) by Ignacia Moreno ’90, the assistant attorney general who heads that division.
Paul Verkuil (LL.M. '69, JSD '72) was confirmed as Chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States on March 3, 2010. Verkuil is currently senior counsel to Boies, Schiller and Flexner LLP, where he oversees the firm's Pro Bono program and participates in antitrust and corporate governance matters. He is also a professor at Cardozo School of Law, and former Dean of Tulane and Cardozo Law Schools and former President of the College of William and Mary.
On February 22, New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo appointed Maria Vullo '87 executive deputy attorney general for economic justice. Vullo will oversee the Attorney General’s Investor Protection, Consumer Frauds, Antitrust, Real Estate Finance, and Internet Bureaus. Vullo joins the Attorney General's Office after 20 years of legal experience involving litigation ranging from constitutional law, intellectual property, securities, antitrust, health care, tax, and environmental matters.
Philip Weiser '94 became senior advisor for technology and innovation in the White House's National Economic Council. Weiser was previously the deputy assistant attorney general for international, policy and appellate matters at the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. Before joining the Justice Department, Weiser was a professor at the University of Colorado Law School. He also served as senior counsel to the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Antitrust Division from 1996 to 1998.
Judith Halle Wurtzel '88 was named deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development in the Department of Education. She was most recently co-director of the Aspen Institute, which helps local, state, and national education leaders improve the education and life chances of poor and minority students. Wurtzel previously served as executive director of the Learning First Alliance, a partnership of leading national education associations formed to improve teaching and learning, and served in the Clinton administration as a senior advisor to the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Education and associate counsel to the president in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel.
Note: We appreciate reports from our alumni. If there is an alumnus or alumna working in the Obama administration that is missing from this list, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know. Thank you!
Posted on July 2, 2009
*Last updated August 3, 2010