President Joe Biden is set to name Jeff Zients to serve in his administration as his next chief of staff. Zients is a management consultant who was in charge of overseeing the administration’s Covid-19 response. According to several sources, he is expected to replace Ron Klain, who will likely leave in the coming weeks.
Zients departed the White House in April after steering the Biden administration’s pandemic response and leading to the most extensive vaccination campaign in the country’s history. Zients returned to the White House last fall to help chief of staff Klain prepare for midterm staff turnover. However, the project was ultimately limited as very few staff members in senior positions have left the administration.
In recent weeks, Klain has assigned Zients to different projects, a move some view as preparing him for the new top role.
Zients takes over the top spot as the president enters a new, challenging stretch of his presidency. Since taking control of power in Congress, Republicans have launched a slew of investigations into the business dealings of the president’s son and the administration.
Recently, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to investigate how President Biden handled classified documents in his personal office in the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C., and his Wilmington, Delaware, home. The president is preparing to launch his reelection bid.
Zients has a much different background than Klain. His first job with the government was during the administration of Barack Obama; the whole rest of his career was in the private sector. Zients has only ever worked in the executive branch.
However, colleagues have praised Zients, calling him a master implementer with deep loyalty for the people he leads.
Chief of staff role likely to change as election nears
As President Biden increases his political activity, some Democrats have voiced they expect the framework for the chief of staff role to change. It is anticipated that Biden’s political advisers, including Jen O’Malley Dillon, Steve Ricchetti, Bruce Reed, Anita Dunn, and Mike Donilon, will take on more prominence under Zients’ leadership.
Zients is a successful management consultant and ran the Advisory Board Company along with David Bradley before taking it public and earning millions of dollars. In the early 2000s, Zients and a group he formed attempted to purchase the Washington Nationals in an unsuccessful effort.
He entered government during Obama’s administration and served in several senior roles, including running the National Economic Council and Office of Management and Budget. After leaving the Obama administration, Zients directed an investment firm and served for two years on the board of Facebook, an experience that has drawn fire from liberals.
During the president’s 2020 campaign, Zients was brought in to assist with the campaign’s finances in a demanding spell. He then served as co-chair for Biden’s transition before directing the administration’s pandemic response.
When leading the pandemic response, Zients took on one of the most critical and challenging tasks for the president. He oversaw the early efforts to promote vaccination to the American public. When he left the White House, President Biden praised him as a “man of service and an expert manager.”
“I called on Jeff Zients to lead my Administration’s Covid-19 response because there is no one better at delivering results than Jeff,” said Biden in a statement at the time.