“Washington’s New Black Pack”

Washington’s New Black Pack,” The Root / The Washington Post, 22 March 2009.

Ten to watch in Mr. Obama’s Washington.


Barack Obama’s historic presidential victory has marked a significant expansion of responsibilities and visibility for people of color working in politics. From the Justice Department to the United Nations to the new Office of Urban Policy, Obama has empowered black Americans at the highest levels of government. The most diverse Cabinet in U.S. history—one that brings diversity of all sorts—is remarkable in part because the equitable mix seems truly to be an afterthought; the new crew will bring decades of expertise to their marquee positions.

Alongside the high-level Cabinet appointees, a junior class of dynamic African-American political leadership—call them “the black pack”—has arrived in Washington. They went through a baptism of fire during the grueling two-year campaign, counting delegates, crunching polls, spinning the press, working doors and phones, managing armies of volunteers, reaping millions of new voter registrations and logging thousands of hours working for change.

In 2009, Washington is ground zero for that change, and a great migration of black talent is under way. The savvy, ambitious class of 2008 shares its candidate’s progressivism—as well as deep bonds that will be essential to carrying out Obama’s agenda. These young guns (average age: 27) are already doing some heavy lifting. As Michael Strautmanis, a key White House manager and chief of staff to senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, told The Root: “They do all the work, get no attention and very soon will run the world.”

Here they are—watch out!

Joshua DuBois—Executive Director, Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Elizabeth Wilkins—Policy Assistant, Domestic Policy Counsel

Michael Blake—Deputy Associate Director for Intergovernmental Affairs, Office of Public Liaison

Addisu Demissie—National Political Director, Organizing for America

Samantha Tubman—Assistant Social Secretary

Yohannes Abraham—Assistant to the Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs

Myesha Ward—Coordinator for Intergovernmental Affairs, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

Jason Green—Deputy Associate Counsel to the President

Alexander Lofton—Regional Director, Organizing for America

Marlon Marshall—Deputy White House Liaison to the State Department

View a slideshow of our Talented Ten, on the trail and at the White House.

Dayo Olopade


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