All things being equal, Nigerian-born attorney Adewale Adeyemo will become the next Deputy Secretary of Treasury on the United States in the incoming Joe Biden administration expected to begin on January 20 next year.
If confirmed by lawmakers, Adeyemo, 39, will deputize for Janet Yellen, 74, a former Federal Reserve nominated by the president-elect a week ago. Yellen brings with her decades of academic and professional experience and has served under both Democratic and Republican governments.
Adeyemo, on the other hand, is unknown to even many of those who have closely followed intra-Democratic politics. He appeared to be the least familiar of six names and faces tweeted by the @Transition46 account on November 30.
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Who is the Adeyemo?
In many ways, Adeyemo is not yet a truly public figure. So little is known about him but that is bound to change in the coming weeks.
Born to Nigerian parents in Nigeria in 1981, Adeyemo’s upbringing was actually in southern California. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Juris Doctor from Yale.
But Adeyemo, popularly called Wally as an affectionate spin on his first name, became involved in Democratic politics at a very young age. Not older than 24, he became the Director of African American Outreach for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid.
But his upcoming role will not be his first stint at the Treasury Department. In 2013, he was made deputy chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, after Adeyemo had left his editorial role at the Hamilton Project, an economic policy initiative by the Brookings Institution.
At the age of 34, Adeyemo was tapped by former President Barack Obama to replace Caroline Atkinson as the administration’s Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics. This appointment was greeted with a lot of praise in his native country of Nigeria.
One of Adeyemo’s most significant achievements in the Obama administration was his role as chief negotiator for the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (TPP). He also became Obama’s deputy director of the National Economic Council in 2015.
In 2019, Adeyemo’s relation with the former president gained new meaning after the Nigerian-born was made the inaugural president of the Obama Foundation, a Chicago-based non-profit organization committed to social justice and offering socio-economic opportunities to young Black Americans.
Adeyemo’s nomination by Biden to the position Deputy Treasury Secretary may only be viewed as a reward for the commitment shown to the Obama-Biden Democratic tent as well as his able capacity over the years.