About Neera Tanden: American political consultant (born: 1970) | Biography, Facts, Career, Life
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Neera Tanden
American political consultant

Neera Tanden

Neera Tanden
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American political consultant
Is Lawyer Political advisor
From United States of America India
Field Law Politics
Gender female
Birth 10 September 1970, Bedford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA
Age 52 years
Star sign Virgo
Politics Democratic Party
Spouse: Benjamin Edwards (artist)
University of California, Los Angeles
Yale Law School
The details (from wikipedia)


Neera Tanden (born September 10, 1970) is the President of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington, D.C., that she has helped build through service in prominent roles there since 2003.

Tanden has worked on the campaigns of several Democratic presidential candidates, including those of Michael Dukakis in 1988, Bill Clinton in 1992, and the general election campaign of Barack Obama in 2008. Tanden advised Hillary Clinton’s successful 2016 primary campaign and unsuccessful 2016 general election campaign, and was a senior staffer on Clinton's unsuccessful campaign for the 2008 Democratic nomination. She helped draft health care legislation for the Barack Obama administration with work on the Affordable Care Act.

She is regarded as a Clinton loyalist and longtime confidante.

Early life

Neera Tanden was born on September 10, 1970, in Bedford, Massachusetts, 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.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1992. In 1996, she received a Juris Doctor degree from Yale University, where she was Submissions Editor for the Yale Law & Policy Review.

As a freshman at the University of California, Los Angeles, Tanden met her future husband, artist Benjamin Edwards. Edwards and Tanden both volunteered on Michael Dukakis's unsuccessful run for president in 1988. Tanden worked as a precinct leader in the Bel Air district of West Los Angeles where many households had already contributed to the Dukakis campaign.


After graduating from Yale Law School, Tanden moved to Washington, D.C., where she has worked on domestic policy on Capitol Hill, in think tanks, and for Democratic senatorial and presidential campaigns. She has also written on Indian-American issues.

Work with the Clintons

Tanden has been regarded as a Clinton loyalist and personal friend of Hillary Clinton’s, whose career has largely been defined by her professional ties to the Clintons. She worked with President Bill Clinton's campaign on new energy policies, and health-care reform, as associate director for domestic policy in the Clinton White House, and as senior advisor in the First Lady’s Office.

In 1999 and 2000, she worked for Hillary Clinton on her successful senatorial campaign in New York, as her deputy campaign manager and issues director, where she crafted policy proposals for the campaign. After the election, Tanden served as Senator Clinton's Legislative Director from 2003 to 2005.

She served as Hillary Clinton's policy director for her unsuccessful bid for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, shaping its policy proposals. Tanden supervised debate preparation for Senator Clinton's participation in the Democratic presidential nomination debates during 2007 and 2008.

Continuing her association with Hillary Clinton, Tanden was an unpaid adviser to Mrs. Clinton’s successful 2016 primary season nomination campaign and unsuccessful general election campaign in opposition to Republican candidate Donald Trump, while also running the Center for American Progress. Tanden was considered a candidate for a top White House job, had Mrs. Clinton won the presidency. After Clinton secured the Democratic nomination for president in 2016, Tanden was named to her transition team.

2008 Obama general election campaign

After Barack Obama was nominated as the Democratic presidential candidate, Tanden was one of a few former Clinton campaign staffers to join his team, and she served as Domestic Policy Director for his successful general election campaign, where she managed all domestic policy proposals for the campaign.

Obama administration

Tanden also served in the Obama administration as senior adviser to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of the Department of Health and Human Services. She worked on the drafting of the administration's health care legislation, including work specific to its proposed, but later withdrawn public plan option, before parts of it became public law as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and negotiated with Congress and stakeholders on several provisions of the bill. She has been described as one of the “key architects” of the Affordable Care Act.

The Center for American Progress

In 2003, Senator Clinton pushed for Tanden's involvement in the founding of the Center for American Progress, or CAP. Tanden worked as Senior Vice President for Domestic Policy, while also serving as Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and, starting in 2010, as Chief Operating Officer.

In October of 2011, Tanden succeeded John Podesta as CAP's president. At that time, the Washington Post's Jason Horowitz described CAP as "Washington’s leading liberal think tank, which is an incessant advocate for a broad progressive agenda and as such a sharp thorn in President Obama’s left side."

In 2016, a hacker gained access to John Podesta's private emails (aka the Podesta emails), some which were emails exchanged with Tanden. In one exchange, on August 11, 2015, while discussing news that Harvard University law professor Lawrence Lessig was exploring a bid for the Democratic nomination, Tanden wrote of Lessig, "I fucking hate that guy." Lessig responded to the incident by saying that while he supported whistle blowing and a 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. Tanden called the release of her personal communications, which often feature her blunt private assessments, a painful experience to endure.

After the 2016 election and Clinton’s loss, Tanden refocused the work of the Center for American Progress, aiming to have the think tank, and especially its advocacy arm (the Center for American Progress Action Fund), serve as a “central hub for Trump resistance” as well as playing a leading role in shaping the healthcare debate within the Democratic Party.

In 2018, reports emerged that Tanden had unintentionally revealed the first name of a CAP employee complaining of sexual harassment.

On April 28, 2020, Tanden was named to serve on New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s Restart and Recovery Commission tasked with preparing the state to reopen after the novel coronavirus lockdown.

Media and writing

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.

Political views

Neera Tanden, who frequently describes herself as a progressive, belongs to the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. She credits her experience as a child relying on welfare programs as well as the formative moment of witnessing Anita Hill's testimony against Clarence Thomas in 1991 with setting her on the path of career in public policy.   

Tanden is an advocate for robust social programs. Under her leadership, the Center for American Progress has proposed strengthening the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and joined efforts to push for universal paid leave, and she has argued for expanding TANF to serve more families and has taken a stand against work requirements for welfare recipients as well as against Right to Work laws.

Having worked on passage of the Affordable Care Act during the Obama administration, Tanden has remained a strong proponent of universal healthcare. In 2019 the Center for American Progress proposed Medicare Extra for All, a blueprint for achieving universal healthcare coverage without abolishing the private insurance industry. Tanden has praised the Medicare for America bill introduced in the House of Representatives.

In 2018, Tanden endorsed the idea of a job guarantee to help revitalize economically-stagnant regions in the United States.


At the University of California, Los Angeles, Tanden met Ben Edwards, an artist, whom she later married. They have two children.


  • 1992, the Asian Pacific Alumni of UCLA awarded Tanden (then a senior at UCLA) the first Sam Law Leadership Award, based on "her leadership experience, community and university service."
  • 2011, Tanden received the India Abroad Publisher's Award for Excellence.
  • 2012, Tanden was named one of the 25 "Most Influential Women in Washington" by National Journal.
  • 2014, Elle magazine honored Tanden during its annual "Women in Washington Power List" as one of the ten most powerful women in Washington, D.C.
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 23 May 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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