Neera Tanden

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Neera Tanden
Neera Tanden.jpg
Tanden in 2014
Born September 10, 1970 (1970-09-10) (age 46)
Bedford, Massachusetts, U.S.
Alma mater University of California,
Los Angeles

Yale University
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Ben Edwards
Children 2

Neera Tanden (born September 10,[1] 1970) is an American domestic policy adviser and the President of the Center for American Progress, a progressive public policy research and advocacy organization in Washington, D.C.[2] She has served in this role since November 2011, before that serving as Chief Operating Officer from 2010 and in earlier roles.

She grew up in Bedford, Massachusetts, earning degrees from UCLA and a law degree from Yale University. Active in Democratic Party politics since working on Governor Michael Dukakis' presidential campaign, 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 senior adviser to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, working to gain passage of healthcare legislation.

Early life and education[edit]

Neera Tanden was born in 1970 in Bedford, Massachusetts,[3] 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]

Tanden graduated from UCLA in 1992, and received a degree from Yale Law School in 1996. She became involved in politics at an early age, first working on the presidential campaign of Governor Michael Dukakis.[5]

At UCLA, Tanden met Ben Edwards, an artist, whom she later married.[5] They have two children.[3]


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

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.[6]

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.[6][4] After Barack Obama was nominated as the Democratic presidential candidate, Tanden served as his domestic policy director for his campaign.[6]

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]

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][7]

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]

Wikileaks revelations[edit]

In 2016, Wikileaks released thousands of emails in a data dump which came to be known as the Podesta emails. In one exchange, between Tanden and Podesta, while discussing Lawrence Lessig's bid for the Democratic nomination, she insulted Lessig. In turn, Lessig responded that while he supported whistle blowing and the 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.[8]

In one email, Neera Tanden stated that "Israel is depressing. It's a good lesson that the wing nuts are just ruthless in every country."[9] In another, she lamented Hillary Clinton's "suboptimal instincts".[10] Tanden has called the release of her personal communications, which often feature her blunt private assessments, a painful experience to endure.[11]


  • 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.[2]


  1. ^ "Neera Tanden on Twitter". Retrieved November 6, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Watters, Susan (March 26, 2014). "Gucci and Elle Honor Women in Washington Power List". WWD. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Neera Tanden". NNDB. Retrieved August 5, 2016. 
  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. ^ a b c The New Republic: "The GOP's New Diversity", NPR, June 30, 2010
  7. ^ Bio: Neera Tanden", Center of American Progress, 2016; accessed August 1, 2016
  8. ^ Golshan, Tara. "Lawrence Lessig’s classy response to being insulted in John Podesta’s leaked emails". Vox. Retrieved October 20, 2016. 
  9. ^ 'Israel is depressing': Clinton adviser vents frustration in latest Podesta emails Published time: October 28, 2016 RT
  10. ^ Tapper, Jake (18 October 2016). "Wikileaks seems to reveal top Clinton advisers' frustration with Clintons over political attacks". CNN. CNN. Retrieved 14 December 2016. 
  11. ^ Eder, Steve; Confessore, Nicholas. "WikiLeaks Lays Bare a Clinton Insider’s Emphatic Cheers and Jeers -". Retrieved November 6, 2016. 

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