On Thursday, December 31, 2020, Joe Biden announced Osaremen Okolo as one of his advisers on COVID-19. This came weeks after Biden appointed Nigeria's Adewale Adeyemo as the deputy treasury secretary. This appointment was well received especially for its inclusion and representation of black women in policy-making.
So, how did Okolo, the daughter of Nigerian immigrants, rise to become one of the first 100 White House appointees that will work with the president-elect when he finally takes over the Oval Office this January?
Okolo was born by Nigerian parents and raised in Massachusetts. She graduated from Harvard College in May 2017. She concentrated primarily in the history of science (medicine and society focus) with an allied, joint concentration in African-American studies. She also obtained a secondary in Global Health and Health Policy.
According to The Street Journal, just before her recent appointment, the Democrat served as a senior health policy adviser to U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois. While working for Schakowsky, Okolo drafted, negotiated, and managed the Congresswoman’s legislation, oversight, and policy across a comprehensive health care and public health agenda, most recently focusing almost exclusively on the COVID-19 pandemic.
This role and her background in public health placed her in a visible position that fostered her appointment in Biden's cabinet.
Her journey in Public Health and Policy has been intentional from the start of her academic career to her roles in government.
These experiences equipped her with the prerequisite skills and knowledge required to excel in this new role. Her appointment stands as a beacon of hope to young African girls in the U.S. and across the world with ambitious visions for their future.