Neera Tanden

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Neera Tanden
Neera Tanden, June 2016 (cropped).jpg
Tanden in June 2016
Born (1970-09-10) September 10, 1970 (age 48)
Bedford, Massachusetts, US
Alma mater
Organization Center for American Progress
Political party Democratic
Ben Edwards (m. 1999)

Neera Tanden (born 1970) is the President of the Center for American Progress, a public policy research and advocacy organization in Washington, DC,[1] associated with the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party.[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 a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1992 and a Juris Doctor degree from Yale University in 1996. 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 Health and Human Services, working to gain passage of healthcare legislation.

Early life and education[edit]

Neera Tanden was born on September 10, 1970,[3][4] in Bedford, Massachusetts,[5] 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.[6] Tanden became involved in politics at an early age, first working on the presidential campaign of Governor Michael Dukakis.[7] At the University of California, Los Angeles, Tanden met Ben Edwards, an artist, whom she later married.[7] They have two children.[5]


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.[8]

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][8] After Barack Obama was nominated as the Democratic presidential candidate, Tanden served as his domestic policy director for his campaign.[8] 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.[7]

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.[7][9]

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.[7]

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 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.[10] Tanden 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.[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. ^ "Neera Tanden on Twitter". Retrieved November 6, 2016.
  4. ^ Drum, Kevin (May 21, 2016). "The Great Matt Bruenig–Neera Tanden Kerfuffle Sort of Explained". Mother Jones. Retrieved October 14, 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Neera Tanden". NNDB. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Nikhila Panti, "Hillary is a role model & a friend", Times of India, March 11, 2007
  7. ^ a b c d e Appointments: "Neera Tanden", NRI (Non-Resident Indian) Internet, February 2, 2011; accessed August 1, 2016
  8. ^ a b c The New Republic: "The GOP's New Diversity", NPR, June 30, 2010
  9. ^ Bio: Neera Tanden", Center of American Progress, 2016; accessed August 1, 2016
  10. ^ 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
  11. ^ 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.

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