Several key additions to Joe Biden‘s incoming administration were announced Sunday night following some criticism that the president-elect’s growing group of advisers lacked the proper amount of Black representation. That chorus of concern is expected to die down, at least in the interim following Biden’s latest selections that carry historic implications.
One of those selections is Cecelia Rouse, who was tapped to be the next chairperson of the Council of Economic Advisers, an influential three-person panel defined by the White House as being “charged with offering the President objective economic advice on the formulation of both domestic and international economic policy.” If confirmed by the Senate, Rouse would be the first Black person to ever hold the position.
The position is far from inconsequential and will give the Princeton University labor economist a role in helping to turn around the country’s coronavirus pandemic-stricken economy, something that is at the top of Biden’s totem pole of priorities once he’s sworn into office in January.
Rouse, 56, is also in the unique position of having White House experience under her belt, as she served as a member of President Barack Obama‘s Council of Economic Advisers from 2009 to 2011 as well as the National Economic Council under President Bill Clinton from 1998 to 1999.
Aside from working in the upper echelon of government, Rouse also boasts a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University and is the dean and Lawrence and Shirley Katzman and Lewis and Anna Ernst Professor in the Economics of Education at Princeton University, where she is a professor of economics and public affairs, too.
Her father was one of the first Black people in American history to earn a Ph.D. in physics. As such, she has been a staunch proponent of diversity and inclusion and spoke out against racism at Princeton University and around the country. In an open letter this past June, Rouse drew upon her own experiences “As a black woman in a field where there are few” and challenged the university “to combat racism, injustice, and inequality.”
While a part of Clinton’s National Economic Council, Rouse helped to coordinate economic policy for that administration and even worked on an immigration bill.
But it was her stint as part of the Obama administration that likely endeared Biden to her. That was when she advised Obama on how to successfully dig America out of the Great Recession to historic proportions that saw the unparalleled job and economic growth that continued well into Donald Trump‘s presidency.
Rouse was also directly involved in Obama’s Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act that invested heavily in HBCUs. “It was one of the largest investments the federal government has made in these institutions which are so important to so many individuals,” Rouse said at the time.
According to Rouse’s bio on the American Economic Association website, when she was asked what her dream job would be, she responded, “I’ve got it!”
Chances are that after Sunday, she’ll need to revise that answer.