This profile contains Biden Administration nominations and appointments made at the U.S. Department of Education.
Nominations and Appointments
Miguel Cardona is Secretary of Education. Cardona had served as Commissioner of Education for the Connecticut State Department of Education since 2019. He also formerly served as an elementary school teacher, school principal, and district assistant superintendent in Meriden, Connecticut, as well as co-chairperson of the Connecticut Legislative Achievement Gap Task Force an the Connecticut Birth to Grade Three Leaders Council. He taught for four years as an adjunct professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at the University of Connecticut.
On April 27, 2021, Fox News reported that during Cardona’s tenure as Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education, he had taken steps to ensure teacher support for the state’s new African-American, Black, Latino, and Puerto Rican Course of Studies high school curriculum. According to emails obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, Cardona wrote that “we need teachers behind this wave of our curriculum becoming more ‘woke.'” The curriculum reportedly addresses “the construct of race and why and how it was developed,” and spends three days each on systemic racism and the Black Lives Matter movement, among many other topics.
Cindy Marten is Deputy Secretary of Education. She had formerly served as Superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District since 2013. Before that, she was an instructor, teacher, and school principal in San Diego. She has served on the board of the California Schools Voluntary Employees Benefits Association (VEBA) and as a member of the San Diego Public Library Commission.
Marten’s nomination attracted some criticism, particularly related to her policy as superintendent of keeping San Diego schools closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. In January 2021, The Washington Free Beacon noted that “Marten’s refusal to set a timeline for schools to reopen is in direct contradiction with Biden, who has vowed to have schools reopen within the first hundred days of his presidency.” A former Republican San Diego county supervisor praised Marten’s passion as superintendent, but remarked that she had “consistently favored the loudest voice at the decision-making table, and that is the teachers’ union. It’s alarming to us as parents to witness the strong influence of labor unions on the continued closure of public schools.”
Donna Harris-Aikens is Senior Advisor for Policy and Planning in the Office of the Secretary. She was a member of the Education Agency Review Team for the Biden-Harris Transition and a member of the Democratic National Convention Committee Platform Committee. Harris-Aikens formerly served as Senior Director for Education Policy and Practice at the National Education Association, before that served as Policy Manager at the Service Employees International Union, and also worked at Advance CTE. She has served as a board member at the Learning First Alliance.
Emma Leheny is Principal Deputy General Counsel at the U.S. Department of Education. She formerly served as Senior Counsel at the National Education Association, and before that was Chief Counsel at the California Teachers Association. Before that, she was a partner at the law firm of Rothner, Segall & Greenstone. She has served as a member of the Executive Board of the National Immigration Law Center, and as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law.
Juliana Herman is Chief of Staff in the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development. She formerly served as chief of staff and senior advisor at the Markle Foundation. Before that, she was a Broad Resident, serving as deputy chief and policy advisor at District of Columbia Public Schools. She also previously served as a senior policy advisor in the office of U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), and as an education policy analyst at the Center for American Progress.
Jen Mishory is Chief of Staff in the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education. She formerly served as a senior fellow and senior policy advisor at the Century Foundation. Before that, she was a co-founder and the executive director of Young Invincibles.