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Biden Taps Current, Former Harvard Spokespeople for Transition Team and White House

Several current and former Harvard employees are involved in transitioning to a Biden White House.
Several current and former Harvard employees are involved in transitioning to a Biden White House. By Caroline S. Engelmayer
By Camille G. Caldera and Michelle G. Kurilla, Crimson Staff Writers

It’s not uncommon for incoming presidents to look to Harvard to fill their administration’s ranks. So far, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has tapped two individuals from a little-known arm of the University: Harvard Public Affairs and Communications.

Annie Tomasini — a former senior director of state, local, and community relations and strategic outreach at HPAC — was appointed to serve as the director of Oval Office operations, a senior staff position in the White House. She worked as Biden’s traveling chief of staff during his campaign.

Tomasini started working for Biden in 2007 as he made his second run for the presidency. She later served as his deputy press secretary when he was the vice president, before leaving to join HPAC in 2010. She then left Harvard to return to Biden’s team in 2019.

Former University President Drew G. Faust congratulated Tomasini on Twitter Tuesday.

“Congratulations to @TomasiniAnnie on being named Director of Oval Office Operations and congratulations to @JoeBiden on a terrific choice! Annie is the best— wise, warm, super effective. We miss her in Boston but can’t wait to watch her do great things for the whole country,” Faust tweeted.

Jonathan L. Swain — who currently works as the senior director of media relations and communications at HPAC — was also tapped to lead the transition team’s “agency review team” for the Small Business Administration.

Under former President Barack Obama, Swain held two positions at the SBA. He was an assistant administrator from March 2009 through May 2011, before becoming the SBA’s chief of staff from August 2011 to October 2013, per his LinkedIn.

Swain has worked for HPAC since 2018.

He also runs his own communications firm, Swain Public Relations, part-time, and wrote on his LinkedIn that he provides “ongoing strategic communications support and advice” to former SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills ’75, who is now a senior fellow at Harvard Business School and a member of the Harvard Corporation.

Tomasini did not respond to a request for comment. Swain declined to comment.

—Staff writer Camille G. Caldera can be reached at camille.caldera@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @camille_caldera.

—Staff writer Michelle G. Kurilla can be reached at michelle.kurilla@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @MichelleKurilla.

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PoliticsUniversityUniversity NewsHarvard Communications2020 Election