Neera Tanden

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Neera Tanden
Neera Tanden by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Tanden in April 2019
Born (1970-09-10) September 10, 1970 (age 48)
EducationUniversity of California, Los Angeles (BA)
Yale University (JD)
OrganizationCenter for American Progress
Political partyDemocratic
Ben Edwards (m. 1999)

Neera Tanden (born September 10, 1970) is the President of the Center for American Progress, a public policy research and advocacy organization in Washington, DC.[1] She has served in this role since November 2011, before that serving as chief operating officer from 2010 and in earlier roles. During the 2016 Presidential primaries, Tanden was a member of Hillary Clinton's "inner circle" of advisors.[2]


After graduating from Yale Law School, Tanden moved to Washington, DC, where she has worked on domestic policy on Capitol Hill, in think tanks, and for senatorial and Democratic presidential campaigns. She has also written on Indian-American issues.[3]

She worked with President Bill Clinton's campaign on new energy policies and health-care reform. Continuing her association with the Clintons, Tanden was policy director for the 2008 Hillary Clinton campaign, shaping its policy proposals.[4][3] After Barack Obama was nominated as the Democratic presidential candidate, Tanden served as his domestic policy director for his campaign.[3] She also served in his administration as senior adviser to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of the Department of Health and Human Services, aiding the effort to gain passage of Obama's healthcare legislation.[5]

Tanden with John Podesta (left) and Governor Martin O'Malley (right)

In 2011, Tanden was selected as President of the Center for American Progress, a Washington Democratic think tank. She had started with the group soon after its founding as Senior Vice President for Domestic Policy, also serving as Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and, starting in 2010, as Chief Operating Officer.[5][6]

Tanden has had a regular column for The New Republic online. She has appeared on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Real Time with Bill Maher, MSNBC, CNN, and Fox programs.[5]

Tanden with Ed Lee, Nancy Pelosi and Thomas Perez, 2014

In 2016, WikiLeaks released thousands of private, stolen emails in a data dump which came to be known as the Podesta emails. In one exchange, on August 11, 2015, between Tanden and John Podesta, while discussing news that Lawrence Lessig was exploring a bid for the Democratic nomination, she said of Lessig, "I fucking hate that guy." In turn, Lessig responded that while he supported whistle blowing and a pardon of Edward Snowden, Tanden should not have to be burdened with having her private emails scrutinized and that it was not in the public interest.[7] Tanden called the release of her personal communications, which often feature her blunt private assessments, a painful experience to endure.[8]

Tanden supported the NATO-led military intervention in Libya.[9] She argued that Libya should be forced to hand over its oil revenue as reimbursement for the military intervention in Libya.[9] In 2016, she met India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi.[10]

In 2019, Tanden welcomed the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and condemned his leftist supporters, tweeting that "the Assange cultists are the worst. Assange was the agent of a proto fascist state, Russia, to undermine democracy. That is fascist behaviour. Anyone on the left should abhor what he did."[11]


Neera Tanden was born on September 10, 1970,[12][13] in Bedford, Massachusetts,[14] to immigrant parents from India. She has a brother, Raj. Her parents divorced when she was five, after which Tanden's mother was on welfare for nearly two years before obtaining a job as a travel agent.[4]

She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1992 and a Juris Doctor degree from Yale University in 1996. Tanden became involved in politics at an early age, first working on the presidential campaign of Governor Michael Dukakis.[5] Tanden more recently has worked for Hillary Clinton on her senatorial campaign in New York. She served as Clinton's policy director for her bid for the presidency in 2008. Tanden later served as policy director for Barack Obama. She was a senior adviser to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, working to gain passage of healthcare legislation.

At the University of California, Los Angeles, Tanden met Ben Edwards, an artist, whom she later married.[5] They have two children.[14]


  • 2011, Tanden was named one of the "Most Influential Women in Washington" by National Journal and received the India Abroad Publisher's Award for Excellence.[citation needed]
  • 2014, Elle magazine honored Tanden during its annual "Women in Washington Power List". The event was held at the Italian Embassy in the United States.[1]


  1. ^ a b Watters, Susan (March 26, 2014). "Gucci and Elle Honor Women in Washington Power List". WWD. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
  2. ^ How Neera Tanden Works. Emails released by WikiLeaks reveal the maneuverings of a liberal think-tank president and member of Hillary Clinton's inner circle. By Alex Shephard and Clio Chang. New Republic. October 28, 2016
  3. ^ a b c The New Republic: "The GOP's New Diversity", NPR, June 30, 2010
  4. ^ a b Nikhila Panti, "Hillary is a role model & a friend", Times of India, March 11, 2007
  5. ^ a b c d e Appointments: "Neera Tanden", NRI (Non-Resident Indian) Internet, February 2, 2011; accessed August 1, 2016
  6. ^ Bio: Neera Tanden", Center of American Progress, 2016; accessed August 1, 2016
  7. ^ Golshan, Tara. "Lawrence Lessig's classy response to being insulted in John Podesta's leaked emails". Vox. Retrieved October 20, 2016. Neera has only ever served in the public (and public interest) sector. Her work has always and only been devoted to advancing her vision of the public good. It is not right that she should bear the burden of this sort of breach
  8. ^ Eder, Steve; Confessore, Nicholas. "WikiLeaks Lays Bare a Clinton Insider's Emphatic Cheers and Jeers". NYT. Retrieved November 6, 2016. In a sphere encrusted with suck-ups, soothers, and self-puffery, Ms. Tanden has emerged as a loyal but insistent straight-talker and acute assessor of Mrs. Clinton's stubbornness and weaknesses.
  9. ^ a b "Donald Trump's Libya policy is strikingly similar to one of Hillary's top surrogates". Salon. June 20, 2016.
  10. ^ "PM Modi discusses US president poll with think-tank leaders". Hindustan Times. June 8, 2016.
  11. ^ "World reacts to arrest of WikiLeaks founder of Julian Assange". The CEO Magazine. April 12, 2019.
  12. ^ "Neera Tanden on Twitter". Retrieved November 6, 2016.
  13. ^ Drum, Kevin (May 21, 2016). "The Great Matt Bruenig–Neera Tanden Kerfuffle Sort of Explained". Mother Jones. Retrieved October 14, 2018.
  14. ^ a b "Neera Tanden". NNDB. Retrieved August 5, 2016.

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