President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Jeff Marootian, the openly gay director of the D.C. Department of Transportation, to serve as a key environmental advisor in his administration.
Marootian will serve as Special Assistant to the President for Climate and Science Agency Personnel, a post under the executive Office of Presidential Personnel, which regulates and vets potential staff members who may work for the administration.
Historically, the Office of Presidential Personnel determines who gets hired or appointed to various positions within the executive branch, including about 1,600 positions that require U.S. Senate confirmation.
In his new position, Marootian is likely to advise President-elect Biden, and his advisors, about staff positions dealing with environmental or scientific issues, including positions in the Office of Domestic Climate Policy, the Department of Interior, the Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Because the incoming administration is Democratic, it also means that the types of people who will be appointed to such positions will likely fall largely on the side of prioritizing climate change, which many in the party believe is a real, man-made phenomenon, and that the government should take action to address it. President Donald Trump, in keeping with Republican party orthodoxy on climate change, did not have any such position in his administration.
Marootian, who has served as the director of DDOT since 2017, where he oversaw about 1,100 city workers. In a statement, Mayor Muriel Bowser praised him for having “worked tirelessly to make our roads and sidewalks safer and more efficient, and to build a transportation network that not only meets our needs today but looks ahead to the future,” according to The Washington Post.
He previously served in several political roles, including as Director of LGBTQ Outreach for the Democratic National Committee in 2012, followed by stints as liaison to the White House Office of Cabinet Affairs and Presidential Personnel, and later, as Chief Sustainability Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration in the U.S. Department of Transportation during the final two years of the Obama administration.
Other LGBTQ appointments within the administration include: former presidential candidate and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who Biden has nominated to be his next Secretary of Transportation; Rufus Gifford, the gay former Ambassador to Denmark, as Chief of Protocol; the gay former White Hosue staffer Gautam Raghavan, who has been tapped to serve as Deputy Director of the Office of Presidential Personnel; Karine Jean-Pierre and Pili Tobar, both lesbian women of color, as White House Deputy Press Secretary and Deputy Communications Director, respectively; and Carlos Elizondo, a gay man, to be White House social secretary.