Just a day after it was revealed that Ron Klain was expected to step down as White House chief of staff, President Joseph Biden has reportedly tapped Jeffrey Zients, Trinity ’88, to replace him.
As the most senior political appointee in the White House, Zients will play an important role in how Biden manages a new Republican majority in the House, an anticipated re-election campaign and a new special counsel investigation into Biden’s mishandling of classified documents.
From January 2021 to April 2022, Zients served as counselor to the president and the White House COVID-19 response coordinator. In the latter role, Zients was critical in the Biden administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and is credited with overseeing the distribution of over 200 million vaccine shots, the delivery of almost 400 million free N95 masks and accelerating the development of the Paxlovid antiviral pill.
“This is really good for the president and good for the country,” Anthony Fauci, former chief medical advisor to the president, told the Washington Post. “He’s the real deal. I mean, he’s just an extraordinary individual and talented, intellectually as sharp as you can get, an incredible, get-it-done type person.”
After graduating summa cum laude with a political science degree from Duke, Zients began his career as a management consultant at Bain & Company in Boston. He then moved to Washington where he became an entrepreneur and business executive, helping run the research firm Advisory Board Co. and its spinoff, Corporate Executive Board. After both firms were launched with an initial public offering, Fortune Magazine included Zients on their “40 under 40” list in 2002, estimating his wealth to be around $149 million.
Zients entered the public sector during the Obama administration to serve as the first Chief Performance Officer of the United States. He then took on various roles throughout Obama’s two terms, including as acting and deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and director of the National Economic Council. Zients became known as “Mr. Fix It” after he was able to solve multiple issues with the Healthcare.gov website.
Before his stint in the Biden administration, Zients served as the CEO of the private investment firm Cranemere, a member of the Facebook Board of Directors and a co-chairman of Biden’s presidential transition team.
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Jazper Lu is a Trinity junior and managing editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.