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UC San Diego Goes to Washington

University alumni tapped to serve in the Biden administration

Five University of California San Diego alumni have been nominated or appointed to positions within President Joe Biden’s administration, adding to a long list of university alumni and faculty leaders who have served the nation in high-level roles. In addition, one alum was tapped to serve as part of an agency review team for the Biden-Harris transition.

These UC San Diego-connected individuals will be involved in the new President’s administration in a variety of ways, implementing Biden’s agenda and driving groundbreaking impact in sectors ranging from education to finance. Some of these critical positions include newly created roles on the National Security Council and at the Office of Science and Technology Policy, as well as the No. 2 position in the Department of Education. Through their work, each alum will play a crucial part in efforts ranging from managing the nation’s relationship with Asian countries to protecting the rights of individuals and entities from unlawful discrimination.

“Decisions made at these levels drive meaningful change for our entire nation and can influence global policies for decades,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “These six Tritons are translating research, analytical and collaboration skills learned at UC San Diego into productive paths of civic engagement. Looking through a lens of equity, they are gathering information from diverse resources and using inclusive decision-making to address the most pressing issues of our time.”

As of March 4, here is a list of UC San Diego alumni who have been selected to serve in the new government:

Stephanie Akpa

Stephanie Akpa B.A. ‘06, Political Science

Appointed senior advisor for the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services

Prior to joining the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Stephanie Akpa served as chief counsel to Senator Elizabeth Warren, where she led a wide-ranging portfolio that included civil rights, criminal justice, anti-corruption and immigration issues. Akpa previously worked as a health insurance specialist at Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and as an Equal Justice Works Fellow and staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia. At Legal Aid, she led a project focused on ensuring access to health care for low-income African American communities in D.C. Akpa was a McNair Scholar at UC San Diego and received a Juris Doctorate from Yale Law School.


Kurt Campbell

Kurt Campbell B.A. ‘80, Special Project Major

Appointed to the newly created role of coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs at the National Security Council

Kurt M. Campbell has been appointed to serve as “Asia Tsar,” President Biden’s coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs on the National Security Council. Campbell recently served as chairman and chief executive officer of The Asia Group, LLC, a strategic advisory and capital management group specializing in the dynamic Asia Pacific region. He is also co-founder of the Center for a New American Security think tank. From 2009 to 2013, he served as the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, where he is widely credited as a key architect of the “pivot to Asia.” In 2013, he received the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award—the nation’s highest diplomatic honor.


David Marchick

David Marchick B.A. ‘88, History

Appointed as chief operating officer of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation

Longtime UC San Diego Foundation Board Member David Marchick has been appointed to serve as chief operating officer of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC). In this role, he manages agency policies, oversees business operations and coordinates strategy and priorities. Marchick previously served as director of the Center for Presidential Transition, where he worked with the Biden transition team on transition planning efforts. He spent 12 years as managing director of The Carlyle Group, one of the world’s largest investment firms. He also served in the Clinton Administration, with positions including deputy assistant secretary of state for transportation affairs, deputy assistant secretary for trade policy at the State Department and principal deputy assistant secretary of commerce for trade development.


Cindy Marten

Cindy Marten M.A. ’95, Education Studies

Nominated deputy secretary of the Department of Education

Cindy Marten has been nominated for the second-highest position in the Department of Education: deputy secretary. Since 2013, she has served as superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District, having been unanimously selected by the district’s Board of Education. In that role, she directed implementation of the district’s Vision 2020 initiative, committing to a meaningful graduation for all students with the district achieving the highest graduation rate among big-city districts in California and the fastest reading growth of large urban districts nationwide in 2019. “Work hard. Be kind. Dream big! No excuses,” is Marten’s mantra. Prior to becoming superintendent, she was a classroom teacher for 17 years.


Alondra Nelson

Alondra Nelson B.A. ’94, Anthropology

Appointed to the newly created role of deputy director for science and society at the Office of Science and Technology Policy

Alondra Nelson, an expert and acclaimed author in the intersection of science, policy and social inequality, has been named deputy director for science and society in the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House. She was previously the president of the Social Science Research Council and Harold F. Linder Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. She is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the National Academy of Medicine, and serves on the Board of Trustees of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, among other roles. She earned her undergraduate degree at UC San Diego, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.


Melody Gonzales

Melody Gonzales B.A. ‘02, Communication

Served on the agency review team for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management

Melody Gonzales recently served on the Biden-Harris transition team as a member of the agency review team for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. A former congressional staff member to then-Congressman Xavier Becerra and appointee at the U.S. Department of Labor and Office of Personnel Management in President Barack Obama’s Administration, she is now senior advisor for Latino advocacy at the National Education Association. Throughout her various roles in the union, nonprofit, campaign and federal sectors, much of her work has been centered on empowering and advancing diverse and often marginalized communities. She is also the founder of Hope and Power Strategies, an executive leadership and career coaching business.